Tag Archives: Social Capital

Just Do It: Transforming Stakeholders Into Brand Evangelists using Philanthropy + Social Media

Increasing Competitiveness Through Good Corporate Citizenship

Companies today are facing increased pressure to be socially responsible as well as increased competition for customers and for the best employees.
As American business and families are on tighter budgets, they are making more conscientious decisions about the purchases they make. There is a subtle shift in the value proposition, where people are choosing where to put their time, energy and money not only into products, services and jobs that satisfy their self interest – what’s in it for me—but also a larger question of what value companies are bringing: how it effects their local community, the environment, and society.

Social Responsibility as a Differentiator
There are different ways companies choose to be socially responsible, by:
* Providing products that are designed or manufactured to minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Focusing on their operations and using supply chains that minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Engaging with their local communities to alleviate and solve local environmental and social problems, like illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, littering, conservation, and air pollution.

Companies choosing to focus on their product development or operations often invest significant amounts of time and energy into these initiatives and face both market and operational risks. These are critical aspects of developing a sustainable economy, but they are not equally accessible to all types of businesses.

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Alternatively, all companies have the opportunity to engage with their local communities, and there are a wide range of ways to participate that can have long-lasting impacts.

This type of engaged social responsibility is also very visible to a company’s stakeholders. Consider the difference in opportunities to engage your key stakeholders and the different attitude and feelings you will prompt in them if your company announces a bold new recycling program (an internal effort) versus collaborating with neighbors to build a new playground that will give neighborhood kids a safe place to play (a public effort).

While both are worthy initiatives, one creates the opportunity to invite your stakeholders’ participation and is a tangible symbol in your community of your company’s impact. The other resides in corners and under desks and is hardly a rallying cry.

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com

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What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social Entrepreneurship is both a philosophy and a practice. Philosophically it takes a cue from Jean Baptiste Say, one of the intellectual godfathers of entrepreneurship:

Social Entrepreneurship “is a way of moving resources from low yield activities to high yield activities”, with the specific goal of addressing social and environmental problems and challenges we face today.

As an practice we see it across the global, in the non-governmental, non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors. It varies in scope from world-changing to neighborhood changing.

Social Entrepreneurship is about innovation and creating value.

Social Entrepreneurship is about innovation and creating value.

The beauty of it is that regardless of one’s immediate resources, it is accessible. It is a worldview and a type of leadership that mines the natural capital and resources that are available in communities and finds ways to unleash them. It understands that power comes in many forms, not just economic or political power, but also intellectual capital, the passion and engagement of individuals, and social capital. It works whether one is trying to promote positive change from the top down, the bottom up, the “grass tops” work of community leaders, or through coalitions.

Social entrepreneurship isn’t always about creating new organizations; it includes a range of entrepreneurially-minded activities that include innovation, invention, adoption, and adaptation. It might be in the form of:

  • Developing new/better goods or services, like solar powered light-bulbs for consumers in the developing world
  • New methods of production, like developing a way of creating durable family housing solutions for $300 or less
  • Adopting existing solutions to underserved markets, like microfinance
  • Creating new forms of supply, like organic farmers partnering with urban businesses to divert waste from the trash to composters, or
  • New forms of organization, including new strategic partnerships or alliances, like Denver’s Road Home, a national model for how to bring for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations together to address homelessness.

Social entrepreneurship, in it’s highest and best form, is about developing solutions that are practical, scalable, cost-effective, politically rooted, and sustainable that will make better use of the resources available and gain the necessary support to make some headway addressing our pressing social and environmental problems.

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com