The Future of Business is Good
A bold statement:
In 10 years businesses & charities will be difficult to distinguish apart.
Due to very difficult financial conditions, charities are increasingly innovating to be more focused on generating their own income.
Social enterprises (benefiting society rather than returning profit to shareholders) generate £60bn of UK GDP and employ 5% of all UK employees. (Social Enterprise UK report The Hidden Revolution). The new type of business called the B Corp, inherently focusing on the triple bottom line: social, environmental and financial, is growing apace.
Changing economic conditions, pressure from customers and issues like awareness of single-use plastics raised by Blue Planet II, mean many businesses are focusing on a social objective to their activities and increasingly, the growth in ‘authentic’ businesses suggests the previously-defined sector lines are blurring daily.
This (r)evolution is further driven by the millennial generation working for, buying from and supporting brands which do more than just make money. A report by FleishmanHillard Fishburn shows 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work at a purposeful company with 93% making product preferences on whether they believe a brand is purposeful.
A recent Blackbaud survey found the youngest UK donors are the most generous with 11.1m of them (65%) donating £2.7bn to charities.
What was known cynically at times as Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is becoming “Business For Good”. This seems to be accelerating and the interest I am seeing from charities and businesses in working together is growing rapidly.
In his TED Talk “Start With Why” Simon Sinek suggests that people connect with businesses and make buying decisions due to biology with the limbic part of the brain dealing with trust, loyalty & “gut” decision making.
He says people (customers) connect with others with the same purpose “they don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
I recently spoke at the Banbury Network and Natter group on “How to engage your local customer base by working with community groups and charities”.
On a practical level, I suggested businesses who do have a social purpose woven into their company ethos are attracting a loyal customer base who believe in what they do and keep buying from them.
An example is Timpson, who spend no money on marketing but give a huge amount to their employees in benefits (many of whom are reformed ex-offenders) to motivate them to give great customer service.
Similarly, local businesses like Your Letterbox focus on how they can support our community (see their free community pages) as they believe it is important to ensure that they are a Business For Good, not just paying lip service or ticking a box but deeply embedding a social purpose in their business.
This is why I tell everyone how much they help me in my work at Visit Banbury and previously as CEO of BYHP.
Working with such groups has many business benefits; exposure to new customers, loyalty and trust due to help given and a strong brand advocacy, not to mention the good news stories generated for press and social media!
It isn’t all about giving money; goods and services in kind, volunteer time, providing Trustees and support at events are invaluable and often enhance employee engagement and make the business an employer of choice.
Anne Mulcahy then CEO of my former employer, Xerox, said “Good citizenship in my view is, quite simply, good business”.
If this has made you think about starting on your Business For Good journey or are a charity wanting to work more closely with business, get in touch and let’s all do good!
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