Now more than ever, my firm CauseConnect’s tagline of “doing business by doing good” is relevant. Nearly 20 years ago, I founded CauseConnect — inspired after the tragic events on September 11, 2001 to step up, step out, and step in wherever my services were needed. Two years prior, I was a co-founder of a regional network in Southern California called Sponsorship Professionals Association with my two friends and colleagues, John H. Good and Angela Easton. Tongue in cheek, we shortened the name to SPA since our profession certainly was not a relaxing day at the spa — rather, it was fast-paced, intense, and stressful.
When 9/11 occurred, our SPA trio decided that we needed to move from our quarterly gatherings to offering services that mattered. We began with a workshop series for 100 nonprofits under the umbrella of CauseConnect throughout Southern California that was sponsored by The Gas Company and Charter Communications, followed by a couple of consulting projects for nonprofit and corporate clients. During that first year, Angela unexpectedly died of a rare and incurable cancer, and John went on to establish a company focused on science museum exhibitions. I then set up and trademarked CauseConnect® as my business, and in January 2003, left my daytime position at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, taking that nonprofit among my first clients, along with City National Bank, Plaza de la Raza, InfoPeople, and Cheech Marin. For the next few years, I marketed, managed and helped fund several high-profile regional and national projects, which included bringing the Emancipation Proclamation to California; producing a first-ever Chicano art archival project; launching and expanding a corporate volunteer reading program throughout the state, then the nation; starting a national giving strategy for an international company, and galvanizing the Chicano art community through an annual art-and-music festival in East Los Angeles. Since those early beginnings, I have done so much more — much of it with incredible partners and clients, and I have so much for which to be grateful.
“Doing business by doing good” was — and still is — the focus of my work and the driving factor in how I choose projects and clients. In late 2016, I relocated my residence and my business from California and expanded my work to Texas. At that time, I started streamlining my workload, and refocusing on the types of services from the early days of my business — ones that I could do remotely and from afar. Now more than ever, since we are in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic in the United States and throughout the world, I can see that this was a good call, and I feel prepared, and able to support clients — current and new — with initiatives that can help them also with “doing business by doing good.”
While the situation around the globe is tragic, there is one bright light in all of this darkness — we have all been given the opportunity reset, redirect, refocus … on all things good and to let go of those things that have not been positive in our lives and in the lives of others. It is time to be happy, be kind, be brave, (but most of all) be you.
It is time. I look forward to helping others as I move ahead with love and kindness surrounded and supported by the goodness of many.
Melissa Richardson Banks
© Photo of “Be Kind” mural by Adrianna Ekqvist taken by Melissa Richardson Banks, 2020