Meet Doug Bell, co-founder of Global Prairie
, a communications agency with 100 employees nationwide, 20 of whom are in the Cleveland offices. Inspired by social impact companies around the world, Global Prairie had a simple idea: Do great work for clients so that Global Prairie can do good work in the world.
The theory is that by helping clients grow their brands in measurable ways, Global Prairie will grow too, allowing the company to give back to worthwhile organizations and causes. The company commits 10 percent of its profits to make the world a better place.
What inspired you to create Global Prairie?
There are three main concepts that served as the inspiration for Global Prairie: First, we wanted to create a communications agency that focuses on the strategy to help clients achieve their business objectives.
Second, we wanted to recruit people who are inspired by something greater than the clients we serve. They want not only to create great work within an agency, but also leave a mark on their community and society.
This led us to create a social enterprise based on the idea of “be well and do good.” Following the path of companies like Patagonia
, we developed a model for Global Prairie that allows us to give back 10 percent of our company’s time and profits to the communities in which we work and the causes that we’re passionate about.
What are some of the causes you support?
We choose our causes by identifying overlap between personal interest of one of our team members and our organization’s unique capabilities to help support the cause.
In 2012, Global Prairie invested more than 2,500 hours of pro bono time in support of 125 organizations. Each Global Prairie team member is given on his or her first day a fund from which to make donations to non-profit organizations that are personally meaningful. This helps new team members immediately become part of the philanthropic fabric that unites us.
Global Prairie contributes an inaugural donation as a gift to each new team member and, ultimately, to the community. During the year, Global Prairie makes three additional donations for each team member in celebration of his or her birthday, the holiday season and the anniversary of their hire date.
What causes do you personally support?
There are a number of causes that I’m involved in including the Red Cross
, the National Hemophilia Foundation
, the Immune Deficiency Foundation
and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The organization nearest and dearest to my heart is Boys Hope Girls Hope
, which shares my Jesuit roots. BHGH supports disadvantaged children who show bright promise if given the opportunity and tools to reach their full potential.
Do your clients come to you because they know your mission?
Our clients come to us almost exclusively by referral based on our good work; and based on our overarching view of life and business.
The success we’ve experienced generating new clients reinforces to us the concept that all things come full circle -- be it by good work yielding more good work, or because of what we feel is simply good karma. At Global Prairie, we feel that good karma comes from the pure and honest desire to make someone else’s life better.
Why is Cleveland ideal place for Global Prairie?
Cleveland is an ideal home for Global Prairie because of what we see as the massive untapped potential in Cleveland, and of Clevelanders in general. We feel there could be no better place to successfully tap, test and pilot the concept of social entrepreneurialism, grab the millennial generation by its soul and watch them rise to the occasion – whether it be a native Clevelander or someone from Cleveland who’s lived elsewhere sees what’s happening here as an opportunity to return to their native home and experience this renaissance.
Can you share a funny or amazing experience?
One recent experience that truly hit home for me was when a colleague answered the question, “Where do you see Global Prairie in 10 years?” by answering, “I don’t think anything will be different. I just think there’ll be a lot more people here.”
This answer to me reinforced the passion of the great people we’ve brought in. The fact that they can say they love what we’ve established and simply want to see more of that. We have a team that embraces at its core what Global Prairie about.
What most amazes and impresses me each day is the character and content of our people, and how they live out our mission of doing well and doing good at the same time.