Gone are the days when an entrepreneur was expected to be entirely focused on making a profit. Obviously, earning money is important to being sustainable and therefore staying in business, but it’s possible to both earn a profit and make a positive difference in the world around you, too.
There are great reasons for doing so. Making a positive difference contributes to the greater good. It can also boost employee morale for people to know they work for a company that gives back. Consumers like to shop at businesses that give back, too. According to a Nielsen study, up to 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more to purchase from companies that are dedicated to making a positive difference.
It’s called social entrepreneurship, which means running a business that has a charitable component.
So, how can you have a positive impact while making money?
Start by building your business model around it
The first step is to look at your business, its mission, and values, and determine the best ways for you to contribute. Any type of business can give back—those that sell products can contribute those products to local or international organisations that need them. Some businesses can contribute financially or with infrastructure aid. Others find ways to donate their time or expertise.
Whatever you choose to do, it needs to fit and be sustainable within your business. Don’t contribute so much that your business suffers.
Here are some ways your business can make a difference:
1. Contribute financially
Not every business sells a physical product that can be donated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Choose a cause that’s important to you and partner with an organisation to give them a portion of the proceeds from every transaction, or certain types of transactions. You can do this on an ongoing basis or as part of a limited time engagement.
2. Encourage your clients to contribute financially
You could have an even bigger impact by hosting a fundraising drive in which your business matches all proceeds donated by your clients. Email your clients with a link to donate through and tell them you’ll match them—or contribute a certain percentage for each dollar they donate. Doing so can drastically increase the amount of money raised.
3. Contribute your time
Not everyone can afford your services, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from your advice or knowledge. If you have specialised expertise in an area, consider partnering with a local organisation to host free workshops for people in need. You could give a workshop on financial literacy or ways to pay down debt more quickly, for example.
If you already host workshops and charge participants to join, consider offering a free spot or two to a relevant organisation so they can choose to have someone attend. You’ll be doing good and helping them at the same time.
4. Pay your employees to contribute their time
Your employees may want to help out but don’t have the time or financial ability to do so. Consider giving your employees a paid day off to contribute their time, or pay them to host workshops. You’ll not only be helping a worthwhile cause, you’ll be showing your employees you support them, too.
Making a difference doesn’t have to interfere with earning a profit. The two can even go hand-in-hand. What’s important is that you choose causes that are important to you and your employees, and you build a charitable vision that makes sense for your company.
Just remember that it’s okay to make money while you’re doing good. Your business needs to be sustainable, so make decisions about giving back that work with your business.