Charity + Profits = Social Entrepreneurship

Being charitable and earning a profit are two opposite ends of a pole. A common misconception. Over the past decade, the Business world has witnessed a shift towards social responsibility. To me, it almost seems ignorant and mercenary now, if a company does not aim for social welfare along with its other goals.

And that is where social entrepreneurship is defined – running a profitable business that also benefits the society as a whole. Most large companies run Corporate Social Responsibility departments. Here’s how they work. Socially aware aspiring entrepreneurs approach them with their ideas. These departments then choose the projects they would want to fund. The problem here is that CSR departments are flooded with commendable causes but not all of them can be approved. To be an entrepreneur, social or not, requires skills and a level of ability.

One can start off just like any other entrepreneur, with one brilliant idea – Cause related marketing, for instance, that is, linking a cause to a brand. One of my personal favorites is UK’s Peppa Pig charity for Tommy’s pregnancy health charity. Another notable partnership is Apple’s Product Red campaign for Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa, where a portion of sales revenue from certain products goes to the charity.

This marketing strategy has mutual advantages for all participants. The business benefits from improved brand image, customer loyalty, opportunities for marketing. The non-profit organization benefits from wide-spread promotion, funds and a greater reach to the public. So why not tie up with charity? It’s a win-win situation and a lot of companies are starting to realize that.

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