“Social Entrepreneurship” may sound intimidating, it really just means putting socially-conscious practices to work in your online store that will create positive changes in society, according to Investopedia.
You might be wondering, “How does that apply to me if I’m not a nonprofit?”.
Nonprofits use all their income or profit for a social cause, while for-profit organizations keep their own profit. However, you don’t need to be a nonprofit (or break the bank!) to make socially-conscious decisions with your business.
Here are 5 great options for your online store to make a difference this year:
1| Become a “Fair Trader”
The “fair trade” movement focuses on creating quality products and paying fair wages to the warehouses and people that produce their products in second and third-world countries.
Pintl+Keyt is a Chicago-based “Ready To Wear (RTW) fashion line that is passionate about bold prints”. This fair trade, for-profit organization practice ethical manufacturing by ensuring that they use quality materials for their product, and overseeing production in India through Skype calls and third-party visits.
But there is a lot more to fair trade then the materials you use and the workers you employ. To learn more about the ethical movement, and how you can be a part of it, visit the official Fair Trade USA website.
2| Participate in global fundraising campaigns
Social movements can be time-consuming and complicated, and take a lot of different participants to make a difference. For every nonprofit and fair trade organization, there needs to be businesses who are willing to work alongside them.
Every year, on the last week of November, thousands of nonprofits and organizations come together to raise funds for different causes. This international fundraiser is known as the “global day of giving”, or #GivingTuesday.
Whether you are an individual worker, small business or store or large corporation, #GivingTuesday helps you partner up with other organizations in need so that you can donate money or resources to a variety of nonprofits, both local and global.
Learn how your online store can participate this year at the #GivingTuesday site.
3| Support a program or cause
Sometimes it’s easier and makes more sense to partner up with a cause that complements your service.
By making an impact in an area of expertise, you and your online can not only contribute services or products, but help create a fundraising method that is beneficial to both parties. Well-known shoe chain, Zappo’s, has done exactly that.
“Zappos For Good”, the store’s nonprofit initiative, partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that provides gently-used clothes and shoes to people in need. Zappo’s encourages customers to mail second-hand items, and covers the cost of shipping, so that Soles4Souls can sort and send donations around the world.
4| Invest your time
Another great way to give back is giving resources that many causes are often short on: time and skills. While most of your online stores offer products, you as the owner, and any team members you employ need a variety of skills to run the business.
From IT to accounting, marketing and web design to sales, you have valuable skills that most social causes and nonprofits are in need of. An excellent example of a company that has used this type of social entrepreneurship successfully is Best Buy.
Aside from selling a wide range of home and office products and electronics, Best Buy uses its tech support service, Geek Squad, to provide year-round courses for children ages 10-18 in a variety of technology and computer science courses.
You can read more about the Geek Squad Academy here.
5| Donate money or products from your online store
Many online stores don’t have the time or ability to invest in social causes. But you don’t have to participate in fundraisers, rethink your manufacturing process or create new ways to give back.
Sometimes it’s as simple as donating what you already have.
Mega online store Amazon has hit on an innovative way to donate to many different causes at the same time. With Amazon Smile, customers are directed to a separate webpage where they are able to select the nonprofit of their choice to donate a percentage of their purchases to. The new tagline, “You shop. Amazon gives.” says it all.
Find more information about Amazon’s fundraising platform on their webpage.
Ultimately, social entrepreneurship comes down to this: how can you and your business make a difference towards a cause in a way that benefits you both? As you can see, no two methods are exactly the same and they each require different skillsets and types of businesses to function well.
Just remember that investing in a socially-conscious business can also make a return on investment that goes beyond donations.
As a business with a cause, your online store will naturally connect with other like-minded businesses and organizations. You may find that “giving back” (in a sincere and worthwhile way) helps you connect more authentically with your customers and provides far-reaching marketing and growth opportunities.
You don’t need to rethink your entire business plan, change your manufacturing process or let go of your profit margins to contribute to a cause. Being socially-conscious is an individual choice, and any business, no matter how small, can make a difference. Even those in your own community!
French Selz user, Pierre Soyard, a retail store owner who sells animal and gardening products, created his own campaign in February 2016. Cat & Dog Not Disturb helps raise funds for abandoned pets so that they can be adopted.
What can YOUR online store do to give back this year?