SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Courtney Abud

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Social Business: How We Can End Poverty

Scaling social innovation to end world poverty

Tami McEvoy

TamiMcEvoy.com

What if inspiring social organizations like Free the Children could be developed to become as large as Coca Cola or Microsoft? What if they generated the same revenues and had other resources of the same scale?

What if lots of them could be grown this same way?

What would happen next?

Inspiring social innovation
My children (age 9 & 10) have surprised me with their natural sense of right and wrong and their insistence to see things to be 'fair'.

I have been awestruck at what little humanitarians they have become, they showed commitment to doing extra chores to pay for our sponsored child, they happily promote gift giving to those in poverty and actively demand equality for all of the worlds children. I genuinely believe that children are instinctively drawn towards social justice and that it's what we do as parents, educators and governments to cultivate or stifle that instinct.

They inspired me to get more involved and I'm very excited about continuing to work in areas that focus on the intractable challenges in our society, like poverty and global starvation.

I'm particularly interested in working with organisations that focus on educating children in social activities and philanthropy from an early age, and those encouraging young adults to become more hands-on in solving the problems of the developing world.

Social Business
Social Business is how social organizations can adopt more business-like practices to become more successful in achieving their social goals.

What if they could do this to the point of ultimate conclusion that they become as big as Coca Cola or Microsoft?

There are many organisations, non-profits and social enterprises that focus on these areas, but with innovative strategic planning they can can achieve more if they can reduce their dependence on government funding and donor contributions by achieving self sustainability.

Adapting corporate strategies to social organisations enables them to develop products and revenue streams that will give them both more independence and greater exposure to a wider audience.

Investing in technologies that capture valuable insight can also give the enterprise the added advantage of being able to develop database marketing techniques that are tailored to individual demographic groups, this will reduce the cost of donor acquisition, increase the average length of commitment and build a more mutually beneficial longer term relationship with the donors.

Direct marketing and a varied product portfolio is important for social enterprise if they are to maximise public response to their cause, knowing what makes people decide to contribute, how they might want to help, and what they want in return for their commitment, is pivotal to the success of the organisation as a whole. It is imperative that specific messages are used to entice a specific type of donor.

Take child sponsorship for instance, it's usually promoted via TV with video showing children in dire circumstances in need of help. I assume the biggest target market is young mothers, but how many times do they have to watch before they donate? However if the same 'product' was re-branded as 'friend sponsorship' and promoted with a much more positive spin on it, you could also target young children for a double hit approach to get a faster response and wider market.

Children are the most powerful 'sales people' in this equation, their idealism is infectious, they're determined with incredible negotiation skills. Who could argue with a 10 year old who says “it's not charity, it's our duty as civilised humans”.

They have big voices amongst their peers so I'm sure if there was a competitive edge added to it (involving local school children for instance) it could go viral in a short space of time.

Teens and young adults are by far the most important demographic to target as they are the voice of change. Can you imagine how quickly the world would change if this group were educated in world development, inspired towards philanthropy and encouraged to be entrepreneurial and then given the opportunity to have hands-on experience doing missionary type work?

A year out to follow their social passions, locally or in developing worlds, sponsored by large corporates like Virgin, Microsoft, Pepsi etc., will encourage a generation to believe that it is no acceptable we tolerate poverty in our modern society.

By directing our pensions, insurances and other investments towards these social organizations rather than the 'purely for profit' corporate world, and equipping them with modern business skills, they'll be able to act on it too.

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