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February 01, 2010

DSA News

Championing Direct Selling’s Future

by Charles L. Orr

“Our success depends on working side by side with our partners.”

As all of us at the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) began planning for a new year serving the public interest and enhancing direct selling’s image, I found myself reflecting on my 20 years in this industry I’ve come to love. When I assumed the position of executive director at DSEF in March 2009, it felt very much as if I’d come full circle.

Beginning in 1990, I’ve had the privilege of serving the direct selling industry in a number of capacities. Throughout the years, I’ve come to admire most the industry leaders who learned direct selling from the ground up.

One of the most valuable lessons these friends and colleagues taught me is this: Success in direct selling cannot occur without that exquisite partnership between company employees at all levels and the salesforce. When things work best, the field and the home office are in sync.

That lesson could not be more apt for the work we do at the DSEF. Our success depends on working side by side with our partners in academia, women’s organizations and consumer protection groups to implement effective programs and events. It is through these invaluable partnerships that we can succeed in our mission to serve the public interest by advancing the direct selling industry’s support of consumer rights and protection, education about the industry, ethical leadership and individual economic empowerment.

As we plan our programs for 2010, I’d like to highlight accomplishments you helped achieve in 2009 and provide an overview of our plans for the coming year.

In 2009, the DSEF successfully:

  • Collaborated with the Association of Women’s Business Centers to hold innovative Direct Selling Fairs that bring together DSA member companies and would-be direct selling entrepreneurs.
  • Launched an Ethics Leadership Seminar in conjunction with the University of Texas at Arlington to better promote ethical business practices, including corporate social responsibility.
  • Sponsored the launch of the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  • Developed the “Girl’s Night Out” program with Simmons College to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and promote direct selling as an entrepreneurial experience to Generation Y women. More than 25 DSA member companies supported this fun and educational event spearheaded by DSEF Board Member and Simmons College Professor Susan Duffy.
  • Launched a Web site supporting the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), held March 1–7, 2009.
  • Implemented the re-tooled DSEF Academic Research Program by inviting renowned scholars to conduct industry-related research on topics such as image of direct selling, ethics and corporate social responsibility, field development and entrepreneurship.

Two thousand students, faculty and citizens participated in the DSEF’s 2009 public interest events. In 2009, the DSEF showcased direct selling to nearly 4,000 individuals, including students, faculty, opinion leaders and the general public through our public interest and flagship university programs, such as Direct Selling Days on Campus and Consumer Days on Campus.

The coming months will bring even more exciting initiatives. One we’re particularly excited about is a program promoting ethics in business, in partnership with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), which will launch this spring. There is not a more highly regarded brand than the CBBB when it comes to ethics and consumer protection, and the DSEF is proud to partner with that organization in this effort.

Once again, the DSEF will work with our consumer organization partners to promote the Federal Trade Commission’s National Consumer Protection Week (March 7–13, 2010). This year’s theme is “Dollars & Sense: Rated ‘A’ for All Ages” and will highlight the importance of using good consumer sense at every stage of life.

Of course, none of this is possible without the generous financial support of direct selling companies, industry executives, partner foundations and individuals who believe in the DSEF’s mission and programs. When we show direct sellers that we’re stepping up to the plate to work in the public interest, we are also supporting our vision for direct selling—as an entrepreneurial opportunity, a channel of distribution and unmatched personal development for all. All in all, DSEF sponsors a bright future in a welcoming marketplace. It is your support that makes all of this happen, and we again look forward to your participation as we begin a new year.

We are counting on your support and fair share. With it, all things are possible!

Charles L. OrrCharles L. Orr, Executive Director, Direct Selling Education Foundation

For more information, contact Charles Orr at the DSEF at