Why is this important?
Getting the word out to larger audiences
When a social enterprise successfully markets a product or service, it will sell to broader audiences beyond its core constituents (stakeholders, staff, board members and populations already being served through the non-profit’s core mission). This exposure fosters more word-of-mouth endorsement of the products/services, and creates greater awareness of the non-profit’s core mission among new audiences, which is equally important.
Social media provides very cost-effective ways to leverage this “good press” (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, on-line discussion groups, etc.). These platforms become especially powerful when the product or service being promoted is of better quality or value than competing options. Customers become more passionate evangelists primarily because of these differentiators, and certainly because of the non-profit’s social impacts.
How this can impact funding to grow and sustain the non-profit’s core mission
Successfully launching and growing a social enterprise sends a strong message to funders, because in order to do this, the non-profit must be managed in a fiscally attentive manner. This assures that mission is delivered in a more sustainable way, through a predictable revenue stream, resulting in less dependence on traditional funding sources. These strengths provide a higher comfort level to donors and lenders, and they are especially important when a non-profit is competing with other organizations for grant funding from the same sources.
Collaborating to build brand awareness
A social enterprise can also build its brand through a strategic alliance with either another non-profit or a for-profit enterprise, wherein each contributes value to the relationship. A great example of this is the partnership between Chicago-based www.metropoliscoffee.com and www.aspireofillinois.org to create www.aspirecoffeeworks.com, a social enterprise whose mission is providing employment for people with developmental disabilities. The adults who work on the Aspire CoffeeWorks team grind the coffee, weigh it, pack it, calculate inventory, ship it, and so on. They are really doing every job they possibly can, working side by side with the Metropolis staff. Read the full story at:
My next post will cover Critical Success Factor #9: The importance of business planning for your social enterprise, which will also include several resources tools to assist your organization in planning its social enterprise. It will conclude with a recap of this 9-part blog series and provide some actionable next steps. So stay tuned, and please post your comments or questions!