Social entrepreneurship may sound intimidating, it really just means giving back. If you are hoping to give back to your community this year by putting socially-conscious practices to work in your online store, read on.
Social entrepreneurship has the power to 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 of 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 and give back with your business.
Here are 5 great options for your growing business to make a difference this year:
1. Give Back by Becoming 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. Give Back by Participating in Global Fundraising Campaigns
Social movements can be time-consuming and complicated. It usually takes many different participants to make a difference. For every nonprofit and fair trade organization, there need to be businesses who give back and are willing to work alongside those organizations.
Every year following Black Friday and Cyber Monday thousands of nonprofits and organizations celebrate Giving Tuesday. This international fundraiser is known as the global day of giving where organizations come together to raise funds for different causes.
Whether you are an individual worker, a small business or a large corporation, #GivingTuesday helps you partner up with other organizations in need so that you can give back by donating 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 give back to a cause that complements your service.
By making an impact in your area of expertise, you and your online store can not only contribute unique services or products, but you can also help create a fundraising model that is beneficial to both parties. Well-known shoe chain, Zappo’s, has done exactly that.
Zappos For Good, their 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. Give Back by Investing Your Time
Another great way to give back is giving resources that many causes are often short on: time and skills. While most 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, web design to sales, you can give back by donating valuable skills that most social causes and nonprofits need. 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
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.
Online megastore 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. The new tagline, “You shop. Amazon gives.” says it all.
Find more information about Amazon’s fundraising platform on their webpage.
How Can You Give Back?
Ultimately, social entrepreneurship comes down to one thing. How can you and your business make a difference in a way that benefits both you and the cause? As you can see, no two methods are exactly the same. They each require different skill sets to function well.
Just remember that investing in a socially-conscious business can also make a return on investment that goes beyond donations.
As you give back 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. At the same time, it can also provide 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.
What can YOUR online store do to give back this year?