Social Entrepreneurship Has Unexpected Benefits for the Bottom Line Call it entrepreneurial serendipity, but businesses that embrace worthy causes are finding charitable giving is a powerful brand enhancer.
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More and more business owners and customers are looking for opportunities to be more charitable and help a cause they care about.
Entrepreneurship is one of the most cutting-edge careers a person can get into. Because of that, the industry is also one of the most welcoming when it comes to making a major difference in social causes.
Social entrepreneurship can turn passion into profit. Brands like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker have combined fashion and social good to create a major niche foothold in their industry. TOMS gives away one pair of shoes, and Warby Parker one pair of glasses, to someone in need with each sale. They are making a major impact on easing the lack of glasses and footwear in other countries and sharing those good feelings of charity with their customers.
These are both great examples of company founders who succeeded by incorporating their passion for both style and contributing to the greater global good. Entrepreneurs today have more freedom and courage to help social causes by building profitable businesses that give back to their communities.
Such entrepreneurs may see an increase in their profit, as well. According to a 2013 study by Cone Communications/ Echo Global CSR as cited in the Cause Marketing Forum, "91 percent of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality."
In addition, customers are also more willing to actually spend more for products when they know the company is giving back: "50 percent of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services", cites a Nielsen 2013 Consumers Who Care Study.
Another unique aspect of entrepreneurship that is tied into social causes is the financial windfall that can come from getting acquired or having your company excel to unbelievable success. Because many entrepreneurs are making more money now than many people thought was even possible 50 years ago, there is more to go around when it comes to committing funds to non-profit organizations. This frees up entrepreneurs to spend more money on causes they are passionate about.
One amazing example of this is Bill Gates' The Giving Pledge, which is an organization of some of the "world's wealthiest individuals" (all billionaires) who give away over half of their income during their lifetime or in their will. Famous entrepreneurial members include Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Sara Blakely (who, as the creator of Spanx, was the first woman to become a self-made billionaire).
The higher visibility of social causes through the Internet has inspired these billionaires and other successful entrepreneurs around the world to make a significant impact globally. And you don't even need to be an entrepreneur to give to a global cause that has ties with entrepreneurship. Sites like Kiva.org allow anyone to give a micro-loan of $25 or more to a business owner or entrepreneur in a developing country.
In addition, business owners and those with an entrepreneurial mindset are also seeing first hand the needs of the community through better visibility on social media, inspiring them to take matters into their own hands and create organizations or funding drives.
This was the case of Veronika Scott, who was doing a class project to finish her college studies. She recognized a need for the sleeping bag/coat hybrid she created. She founded the Empowerment Plan, which now hires formerly homeless people to manufacture her hybrid coat for those who are currently homeless around Detroit. The organization has been recognized by many large news outlets like Fast Company and CNN and has made a major impact for the estimated 20,000 members of Detroit's homeless community.
Social platforms can significantly influence social change. Many organizations, including startups, have had great success leveraging a social giving campaign to also gain brand awareness while making a difference.
Social media users love feeling like they can participate in making a difference. That has helped companies sell advertising and get their brands out there (which is crucial for start-ups and new businesses) while also supporting something they care about.
This line of thinking gives companies a chance to promote entrepreneurship and social good. One example of this was Pepsi's Social Refresher campaign, as mentioned by Mashable. It allowed anyone to pitch an idea that could change the world, then the community voted for the ideas they thought deserved grants from Pepsi to make it happen. This increased fan engagement while also encouraging ingenuity, which is the backbone of all great entrepreneurial endeavors.
No matter what influence social causes have on entrepreneurs or those wanting to make a difference, the fact remains that our ever-advancing technology and social platforms make it fun and easy to give to causes you are passionate about.