I interview Social Entrepreneurs the world over on my podblog. I’ve also worked alongside these folks for about a decade. Across all of this, I’ve noticed common themes in the ways that they build successful cause based businesses – so, I offer these 10 keys as the first step on your journey to pursuing your dream of sparking social change. I’ll publish new keys each week, so follow this series, learn from it, incorporate it into your work, and become a part of our movement at socialchangenation.com
4.) Don’t Be Afraid to Sell Social Impact
There’s a major problem with the social mission of most every company in America: they don’t sell their social impact. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered what charitable causes a large company donates to only to find that I have to dig through about 20 web pages to figure it out. And even then, they always leave many questions unanswered: how do you help this charity? Why do you help it? How are your employees engaged with it? How does this actually fit with your mission? Why is this the most effective use of your charitable dollars and time?
The fact is, they don’t answer these questions because they seldom have an answer themselves. More often than not, corporate charity is nothing more than an afterthought – something companies do as part of some vague notion of their corporate responsibility.
The best ones – Tom’s Shoes, Ben and Jerry’s, and several others sell their social impact. Now, before you cringe at that, let me explain… yes, I agree,.. true giving should be done without credit taking, and without putting the spotlight on yourself. That is the core of generous giving, I know… I know… but the simple reality is, people and companies are fumbling about in a hapless effort to prop up their version of creating social good. Most of them have it all wrong, and the only way it can be gotten right is for companies to start having a dialogue about this.
So, here’s my message for you as you build your movement: don’t be afraid to sell your social impact. Wear it proudly, make it a central part of your mission, explore how it fits with what you do as a company, engage your followers with it, and, most importantly, BUILD IT INTO YOUR BRAND. As a customer of your products or services (and I can’t emphasize enough that, even if you aren’t forming a for-profit, these same rules apply!), I will be proud to know that my involvement with you supports a social good – we consumers, now more than ever, want to know that our purchases are doing more for the world than providing an item for us! Sell me on what you’re doing for the world, why you are a good company. Do that well, and I will become a rabidly loyal customer. Do that poorly, and I’ll move to your competition, which has convinced me my purchase is part of something bigger than myself.
3 Quick Tips to get Started on this Key:
- Think about attaching a short impact story to each product you sell. This could be as simple as a little card attached to the product that tells the story of who the purchase impacts. Encourage sharing with a short note on their asking your customer to tweet out a pic of the card.
- Build a blog that is all about sharing stories of people impacted by your customer’s purchases.
- Put videos on your site of you serving your cause.
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