How To Pivot Your Business To Make A Social Impact (And Profit)

There’s something happening in the business world. And it’s been a long-time coming. More and more companies are focusing on making a positive impact on the world.

And it’s not just idealism. The change actually leads to greater profits. Consumers are more likely to purchase products and services from companies who donate money to charity, have partnerships with non-profits or B-corporation certification.

According to The Alternative Board’s survey on social good in the workplace, “48% of socially-driven companies consider themselves ‘ahead of the competition’ compared to 38% of their counterparts.”

The Impact Of Making A Social Impact

“Businesses should consider being community conscious because it drives morale up (way up), increase productivity, increase positive branding, and give others more reasons to support the business,” says  Khai Tran, founder of Penji. “Our team members are significantly happier (we do evaluations every three months to determine this metric) knowing they’re working for a company that actually gives back in meaningful ways.”

Other benefits include:

  • Increased brand awareness and positive PR.
  • Increased sales to socially engaged consumers.
  • Stronger relationships with your company’s local community.
  • More tax write-offs.

There’s really no way to fully quantify all the benefits of pivoting your business to make a social impact. But there’s one thing to keep in mind: “When the people around you do well, you do well.”

Making The Pivot

A growing number of new businesses are starting out with social impact in mind. Fortunately, it’s possible for more established companies to join the movement.

“Instead of thinking about ‘what’ your business does, think about ‘why’ it does it—and then organize your business behind that,” says Luke Vincent, founder of BeLucent. “Get clear on what is wrong with the world that you are trying to fix. This will inspire your employees, build trust with your customers and change how you think so you spot more opportunities for innovation.”

“Before you help those outside your organization, take care of those inside your organization,” urges Tran. “Make sure your own team members are well taken care of first before you venture outward and pivot to be socially aware. Define your visions, mission, core values and allow them to guide your actions as you pivot to become a community conscious organization.”

The Options

Once you have your house in order—we call that gaining Clarity—there are a number of ways to start making changes to your business.

B-Corp Certification

“A great way to pivot your business towards social good is by starting the process of becoming B-Corporation Certified,” explains Chelsea Bennett, PR and Events Coordinator at Lulu.com.

According to BCorporation.net, “B-Corp is to business what Fair Trade is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

The process of getting that certification can be complex. This guide walks Business Owners through each step of the process. The site also features a self-assessment test. The test determines your company’s impact score, an overview of legal requirements for certification and more.

Once a company has been B-Corp certified, social good literally (and legally) becomes part of its DNA.

“We wanted to be more intentional with our environmental and social impact and becoming B Corp certified was a great way to challenge our organization to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk,” says Sheridan Howie, Coordinator of Sustainability & Outreach at Lulu.com. “The third-party certification verifies that we really do live by our words. People are becoming more thoughtful and at times, even a bit skeptical about the companies they purchase from and the promises those companies make. We embrace the skeptics because we know our business is built on a solid foundation of doing good. There’s no greenwashed veneer. Being a certified B Corp helps prove our authenticity.”

There’s another benefit to becoming B-Corp certified. Joining a growing network of companies around the globe that are social-good verified.

“[We] wanted to join the movement of companies using their business to do good,” Howie continues. “We recognize that we make up a humble portion of the global economy. However, by working with other mission-driven companies, we can move the dial on making all businesses not only better but also better for the world.”

Partner With Non-Profits

Another way to build impact is to partner directly with different non-profits. And you can do this in such a way that company revenue is directly tied to giving.

TOMS Shoes forever changed the game with their mission. They vowed to donate a pair of shoes to communities in need for every pair of shoes that consumers purchased.

This model has been implemented in other industries—perhaps most notably the Even Stevens restaurant chain, which donates one sandwich to its charity partners for every sandwich sold. Partners include A New Leaf, Azcend and Bienvenidos Food Bank. To date, the company has donated almost three million sandwiches.

“Cause capitalism is based on a philosophy of abundance rather than scarcity. We’re taught, in fact, we are even wired in college, in our Economics 110 class, that the study of economics is a study of the scarcity of resources and how to use them. It’s only a theory. It’s a theory with no basis. I know we live in a world of abundance,” explains Even Stevens founder Steve Down. “People who don’t practice cause capitalism in 10 years [will] be perceived as politically incorrect and it will hurt their business.”

Give Back Directly

In lieu of partnering with charity partners, businesses can opt to give back directly to their select communities.

“Our social pivot is that we also have a Women’s Empowerment Fund,” says Melissa Scott, founder of beautySEAFARI. “We are paying it forward to women entrepreneurs [and] business owners in countries where we source our beauty traditions. Our inaugural funds are earmarked for Annet N. in Uganda, who has a dressmaking studio. We have pledged $1,000 for her to buy more sewing machines and bikes for delivery services. With these resources, she will be able to empower more women in her community with jobs.”

The Women’s Empowerment Fund wasn’t always a part of the company. She knew she wanted this piece of her business but ended up incorporating it later. And it actually proved easier than more traditional approaches.

“We started off knowing we wanted to ethically source our products, preferably using female farmers,” she explains. “Our main plan was to develop work for women in the countries where we sourced, but that was a whole ‘nother animal that involved too much red tape, going through NGOs and dealing with bureaucrats (domestically and internationally). Once we launched, while still trying to develop the social good aspect, we realized that we could empower women more efficiently and within their own community by creating a fund.”

New models for making an impact are emerging every day. Doyou have an idea for pivoting your current business to focus more on social good? Because now is the time to start implementing it!


The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author. They do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.

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