Fieldtrip: Social Impact Discussion with MailChimp’s Lain Shakespeare

BrightHouse is often tasked with bringing purpose to life for its clients. Sometimes we “activate” purpose internally for a client and sometimes we bring purpose to life through authentic social impact. To get new perspective, our office went to visit with Lain Shakespeare, Corporate Citizenship Manager at MailChimp.

For decades, companies have sought to have social impact beyond their work. Often, this takes the form of grant making, social cause marketing, sponsorships, and corporate foundations. To look deeper and discover authentic ways for a company to engage beyond its walls, BrightHouse visited MailChimp’s Corporate Citizenship Manager, Lain Shakespeare, who has spearheaded the company’s hyperlocal social impact work.

Lain Shakespeare at Mail Chimp
BrightHouse meets with Lain in MailChimp’s office.

MailChimp has made marked impact in Atlanta, it’s hometown, by investing in nearly 100 small and medium sized non-profits in Atlanta all with the goal to make Atlanta “Better, Weirder, and More Human.” In doing so, MailChimp is focusing on “stopping cycles of poverty, supporting artistic excellence, and encouraging considerate urbanism.”

What is most remarkable is that (1) MailChimp has chosen to invest in these elements of Atlanta for its employees as much as for the community; and (2) that the social impact investments are largely unrelated to MailChimp’s global work: platforms for marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns.

During our time at MailChimp, Lain pointed out that “marketing is a gift” and MailChimp’s decision to invest heavily in small, upstart non-profits was both an opportunity to make a city in which their employees care and engage in as well as an opportunity to give resources to people doing great work that traditional philanthropy often might not support. Moreover, Lain noted that MailChimp’s social impact approach is reflective of the company’s humble, equitable culture and comfort being a tech company outside the Silicon Valley bubble.

Among the highlights of the visit was learning that MailChimp advertises on billboards, with art and splashes of color, that can be seen from inside its office so that employees won’t have to look at bad advertising while they work.

BrightHouse thinkers reflected on the experience:

“I think it offered a new perspective on the kind of social impact we can create. For example, creating change that people can see such as in the arts, as a way to inspire our community.”
“I loved the possibility of a “global” company creating social impact in their own backyard. I think this is something we should definitely recommend to our clients, especially those who are looking to create high employee retention, or those who want to create big change but don’t have the budget or resources to do so.”

Thank you to Lain and MailChimp for sharing their stories and insights on why making the world a better place is good for business.

And look for more information about our learning agenda here at BrightHouse on the blog. Stay up-to-date by subscribing. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest insights on purpose.