The desire to “do good” is becoming increasingly popular, and powerful . In addition to the nearly $300 billion donated to charities this past year, an extra 8.1 billion hours were donated, valued at nearly $175 billion. Beyond these massive numbers, legislative bodies have harnessed the trend to launch campaigns such as Chicago’s GO DO GOOD and the federal government’s United We Serve.
And while charitable giving still creates a positive impact and is vital to overcome major challenges and issues, an emerging type of enterprise has grown rapidly and promises to create even more change, faster… and more sustainably.
What is a Social Enterprises?
Social Enterprises (SEs) use business as a tool to generate public, social, and environmental benefit. The success of SEs is typically measured by a triple bottom line, also known as the 3 P’s: impact to People, Planet, and Profits.
So why support these social enterprises? In short, Social Enterprises are the most effective tools to improve social and environmental conditions around the world. At MovingWorlds, we are especially excited about the following 4 reasons:
1. Social Enterprises Create Positive Impact, Fast
Since SEs use business as their tool for change, they are forced to stay afloat while doing good. Unable to rely on donations, grants, and other sources of income, they need to start making an impact right away in order to survive. A new study by the World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group highlighted that “These highly profitable companies… are turning eco-consciousness into a source of competitive advantage… and are using greenery to reduce costs, motivate workers and forge relationships.”
2. Social Enterprises Develop People (In Addition to Creating Change)
As reported by The Economist, the most salient quality of these companies is innovation, and that they “turn limitations (of resources, labour and infrastructure) into opportunities,” and in doing so, reward and recognize innovation, creativity, and the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals.
3. Social Enterprises Drive Healthy Progress
As the success of these enterprises is measured not only by profits, but also by positive impact to people and planet, they are setup to create positive, long-term change from the start. In addition to developing core businesses practices that are healthy, these “firms also work hard to reach and educate poor consumers, often sacrificing short-term profits to create future markets.”
4. Social Enterprises Instill Dignity, Ownership, and Long-term Success
Perhaps the most import reasons to support Social Enterprises is this fourth and final point: They instill dignity. The Acumen Fund believes that people seek dignity, not dependence. And in many cases, charity creates dependence. The following video from Slavoj Zizek explains why. In short, charity (at least in most cases) is better than nothing, however, consider a child who is better fed because of donations is still living in the same corrupt system that produced him. In order to truly be successful in our giving, we need to invest in sustainable businesses and infrastructure improvements that enable people to create their own wealth, not just accept charity.
Should you stop giving to charities? Absolutely not, especially those that invest in research! However, when spending money or volunteering time, please support these Social Enterprises, at home and abroad. You can use the B Corp company finder or the 1% For The Planet member companies tool to find better companies.