Since I joined the Norwich Business School team, I’ve been scouring the internet every day for interesting business articles to put onto the school’s social media for the last few months.
Through my research, the one which struck me the most has been the wonderful work of ‘The World needs more love letters’.
In the lead up to comic relief it’s important for businesses to assess how they’re giving back as well as how they’re bringing in, and although Brencher’s (the Founder’s) idea is not a ‘profitable’ business per say, it has become a global phenomenon which is spreading goodwill and cheer everywhere it goes.
The reason that this is one of my favourite stories is because the Founder of ‘The World needs more love letters’ wanted nothing more than to cheer up one person – and the rest of it snowballed. From her generosity, she’s given a prestigious TED Talk and been featured in countless newspapers and blogs including the Business Insider.
So, I thought I’d write about it.
While some people have quoted it as a very ‘touchy-feely Americanized idea’, I see little problem with it. Perhaps us Brits just need a little bit of this to counteract the current weather anyway – this chap from Aberdeen has the right idea by leaving little notes around the place.
Although I will try to avoid the soppy tone, I hope that you’ll see something in it which will make you think too.
Here’s a little overview of how Hannah came to start writing:
“Brencher hatched the idea during a particularly bad day in October 2010. Recently graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., Brencher had moved to New York City to work with the Augustinian Volunteers, a Catholic community service program, and found herself so lonely and depressed that she would “cry pretty profusely” on the train.
One day, Brencher noticed a woman on the train who appeared similarly downtrodden. Impulsively, she started writing her a letter of encouragement and felt her own mood lift.
Brencher started writing love letters and leaving them in coffee shops, coat pockets, bathrooms and lobbies. She wrote a blog post about it, and within 24 hours received 100 requests from people asking that she write letters to loved ones who could use a dose of cheer.”
Since its official launch a little over a year ago, ‘The World needs more Love Letters’ has sprinkled over 5,500 handwritten love letters across the country and around the world, from Brazil to Australia, with the goal of cheering whomever they are sent to. You can request them for someone you know is going through a hard time, or if you’re lucky enough to live in the city, you may just find an anonymous love letter left in a café, addressed to “You”.
Through the generosity and caring nature of the Team of people associated with this enterprise, they have gained a huge following, and thousands of contributors who also write letters on behalf of them. You can see from their Support pages that they don’t charge people for the letters, nor do they generate any income off the letters themselves, and rely entirely on support from other people who can donate money based in the form of vouchers.
Personally one of my favourite testimonials: Ruth Werstler, founder of the New Life for Old Bags project that turns plastic bags into sleeping mats for homeless people, was working a booth at the Chicago Green Festival at Navy Pier May 2012 when she noticed an envelope on a nearby table. It read, “For you.”
The handwritten letter inside was long and thoughtful: “I love you for all the amazing things you do you think no one notices,” it said. “I love you for the uniquely caring way you approach everything in your life.”
“I get choked up reading it, which is crazy,” said Werstler, 45, who keeps the letter on her dresser. “That’s what everyone wants to hear, that you matter.”
An amazing achievement born from a tiny idea, encouraging thousands of people to be just a little kinder to each other. What could be better than that?
I’m not saying that you have to have an entirely philanthropic business, but I think it’s important for every entrepreneur, every enterprise to take just a small leaf out of Brencher’s book and have some social responsibility in what they’re doing.
Give back, do good. Even if it’s just in the smallest way.
So – I’ve written a letter and left it somewhere (not on campus, before you shout).
Did you get it?
Let me know what you think about ‘The World needs more Love Letters’ and what you think about the social responsibility of SME’s and larger corporations. I’d really love to hear your opinion. Or contact me, Kirstie Tostevin, on Google Plus.