Do you run a socially conscious business? Or have you heard of cause marketing marketing before?
I’m sure you would have come across it even if you didn’t know exactly what it was called.
You’ve probably seen a brand you love supporting a social cause or charity via their sales. And if you decided to buy, you probably felt a bit warm and fuzzy for supporting such a great cause.
But there is more to running a socially conscious business than simply donating to a charity and waiting for the sales to roll in.
The #1 most important thing you need to do is make your cause authentic to you and your business.
This is just what my client Kelly, founder of Adinkra Designs, is doing with her business.
During a family journey through Ghana, Kelly was overwhelmed with the welcome they received from the local people in each destination they reached.
She was also drawn to the basketware that was created by local artisans using traditional techniques and local materials.
Despite the obvious high quality of the basketware, the artisans did not make much money from their work. As a result, they struggled to support their families. They lived in poverty conditions.
Kelly knew their beautiful products would be appreciated much more at home in Australia.
So she started her business, Adinkra Designs, as a way to bring these products to a wider audience AND help to increase the quality of life for the artisans and their families.
But she also knew there was more that needed to be done to help the artisans and their communities. Education is poor and there is limited access for children and adults to access books, computers and support.
Kelly could have stuck with simply buying the basketwares and selling them to boho-loving loving Australians.
Instead, she saw an opportunity to make a much bigger difference.
And so she established the Adinkra Project alongside Adinkra Designs.
The Adinkra Project currently supports two centres in Teshie, Ghana. They provide free educational programs for children with access to computers, the internet and a library.
The aim of these centres is to provide educational and social skills to the community. They also foster the childrens’ physical and mental health and wellbeing.
These two centres have been active since 2016 and already bursting at the seams. Kelly’s plan is to open five more centres across Ghana and other African countries within the next five years.
All supported by her socially conscious business, Adinkra Designs.
The first major step with this plan is for Kelly, her husband and her three children to move from their Sydney home to Ghana.
Once there, they will then employ the artisans who create their basket ware as staff, giving them a guaranteed consistent wage rather than sporadic contract work.
This will in turn support the community and allow the Adinkra Project to respond to the communities needs more easily.
It is incredible to see how much The Adinkra Project has achieved in the short time it has been in existence.
And, impressively, it is fully funded by the purchases made by customers at Adinkra Designs.
Only recently has she added a button at checkout enabling people to donate to the Adinkra Project if they wish.
So if you are looking to use your business to support a social cause, how exactly can you do that?
First up, using your business to support a social movement is more than a cheap marketing trick.
Customers can spot bullshit a mile away. By spruiking your dedication to a cause when you really just want to make some quick sales you will just hurt your credibility.
You want your customers to connect with and care about this social cause.
People love a socially conscious business because it aligns with their own personal values. Not only do they receive the product they bought, but they also support a cause close to their heart.
It’s almost like a two-for-one deal except that the extra bonus is feel-good feelings about supporting a social cause.
Being involved with a cause also gives you the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses who share similar values, increasing your visibility to other customers.
Recent “Buy Local” campaigns have shown that customers are willing to vote with their shopping dollars.
They can buy cheap from a big department store where the benefits are most likely to support the next tropical holiday for the CEO.
Or they can choose to buy quality from a business that exists for more than just the almighty dollar and is actively involved in making life better for others.
In this way, you are encouraging someone to make a purchase decision with their heart, rather than their head.
Logic – your head – will tell you that it makes so much more sense to spend $12 on a decorative basket from Kmart.
Your heart will tell you that by spending $30 on one from an Aussie Mum’s business is the better choice. Because it supports not only her family, but also a community in Ghana where opportunities for education are limited.
Sure, some are still going to choose the $12 basket. But there are those who will not hesitate to choose the $30 basket and these are the people who will become your most loyal, repeat customers.
These are your business tribe.
You might like to check out some other businesses that support social change:
Two-winged Fruit: this client of mine supports the protection of habitat for orangutans.
Thankyou: this Australian FMCG brand commits 100% of profits to end global poverty.
Deuce Shoes: closer to home, this NZ company supports the Young Hearts Project.
Patagonia: on Black Friday this outdoors brand donated 100% of sales to grassroots environmental organisations.
But you don’t have to be a big business to be able to support a cause (as Kelly and Adinkra Designs have shown!)
I know local cafes who are involved in training young people with skills they can use to gain employment. Yoga studios who regularly donate proceeds from a particular class to a charity or social enterprise.
Myself? My commitment is to support women and Mums to gain financial security and independence through employment and small business ownership.
Whatever you do, your purpose must be authentic!
Let me know in the comments below…
What kind of social movement or charity would you like to support with your business? Have you already done something like this on a smaller scale?
Let me know in the comments below about your experience and future ideas for using your business to drive social change!