I think one of my favorite social trends from the past year (and yes, I would call it a trend of sorts) has been the exponential increase in socially conscious businesses and collaborations. It always seems that as soon as I fall in love with a brand, they go and create a campaign in collaboration with a non-profit group, making me fall even more in love. So if you were toying with the idea of incorporating some social good into your business practices, you’re in luck because today Kristin Moses of DesignGood & DesignGood Studio is sharing some easy tips for making that happen. She’s sharing eight steps for infusing a little more social good and awareness into your own life. –Stephanie
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There’s no doubt that social good has become popular over the past few years. Really popular. It seems like every new business or product that enters the market these days is giving back in some way.
This isn’t just a flash-in-the-pan trend. Thanks to the digital world, the real world has become smaller, and the many digital platforms now available to us make it much easier to make an impact in new, creative ways.
This is something we see every single day at DesignGood and DesignGood Studio. As a branding agency and online community working with creative entrepreneurs and individuals looking to give back, we come across some pretty amazing and innovative projects on a daily basis. Trust us when we say that there’s no limit to the number of ways to incorporate a philanthropic element into your work.
Whether you’re an employee at a large company, own your own business or are just looking for a little philanthropic side hustle, there are plenty of ways to incorporate some social good into your life, projects and your work. To make sure this is done seamlessly, you’ll need to be innovative and think creatively. Here’s how to get started:
1. Identify your passion(s): First things first – identify the cause you want to support. What issues or causes are you passionate about? It could be animals, education, clean water, entrepreneurship, recycling – the list goes on and on. If you’re having trouble thinking of a cause that you’re truly passionate about, dig deep – there’s likely something you’ve always wished you could change, and this is your chance to really make a difference.
2. Put your talents to use: Once you’ve identified your cause, you need to figure out how to connect the cause to your business or project. How could your talents – the work and skills that you’re known for – be used to help the cause that you’re passionate about? The answer might not always be immediately obvious, so allow yourself some time to think creatively about the best way to merge these two together in an organic, seamless fashion.
3. Review your resources: Consider what’s already available to you in your community. What relationships do you have that might prove valuable in your new business or project? Reviewing your resources is an absolute necessity during the early stages of development. After all, you might be further along in the process of becoming a social entrepreneur than you think.
4. Consider your audience: If you already have an established business, think about your current customers or clients and the types of social causes they would want to support. Haven’t started your business or project? Even better: Think about what your ideal client or customer would be interested in supporting and imagine developing the social good side of your business from that perspective.
5. Get creative: Make a list of everything you came up with in the first four steps (Passions, Talents, Audience, Resources) and think about how these items might cross paths. Write them all down and draw lines connecting the dots from column to column. Where is there overlap? What could be paired together in a way that makes sense? Your result will either be completely obvious, or will require some extra creativity and thought. Either way is fine – incorporating social good into a business or personal project isn’t always easy, but the rewards are worth it. To get your brain going, look at the example of Bureo Skateboards – a small business that designs and manufactures skateboards from recycled plastics pulled from the ocean, and in turn educates the communities from where the plastics are pulled about recycling methods. This is a perfect example of a business doing good in a creative way that makes sense to their product and business model. Genius.
6. Focus on strategy: You’ve found a way to connect your Biz Lady skills with the cause you’re passionate about. Great, but you’re not done yet. Now is the time to think about how to put your idea into action. You might want to consider how your new business or project will align with trends in your industry or community. Incorporating a social good component into a business model can be good for your business, but only if the incorporation is done in a way that makes sense for you, your business, your customers and your industry.
7. Add cause to your culture: Everyone wants to work with passionate, giving co-workers, so you’re creating a pretty amazing company culture by incorporating a focus on social good. If you’re a solopreneur or have a small team of part-timers, you can still make social good a big part of your business. Own it, and the people around you will, too.
8. Build a community: No matter the size of your business or project, building a community is one of the most important things you’ll do. Remember that everyone you work with through your business or project is a potential member of the community you’re building, so choose the vendors and collaborators you work with wisely and make sure their goals and values are at least somewhat in sync with yours. These are the people who believe in your cause, your project and you, and will ultimately be some of your biggest supporters.
Even if you’re an experienced entrepreneur with an established business, it’s never too late to incorporate a component of social good into your business. Here are a few ideas to add a philanthropic element to your established business:
Create an employee-driven initiative: A business with an integrated social impact program is attractive to young, talented employees. Give them the time and resources to start an initiative and it will pay off with employee retention and happy workers.
You are who you work with: Use vendors and order products from businesses that are socially conscious and passionate about the same things you are. Not only will this make a statement about your business, but remember that everyone you work with is a potential member of your community (see above).
Set-up a giving program: Maybe there isn’t a specific cause that aligns with your brand, and that’s okay. Set up a giving program, and for every product sold, consider making a donation to a cause you feel connected to. Start small if you need to, but just make sure you follow through and are able to keep up with your promises.
Like with any project or business, keep in mind that being flexible and open to change is absolutely necessary. The world of philanthropy is always evolving, and if you want the integration of a social cause to come together in a seamless, relevant way, you need to be ready to change and think creatively on a daily basis.
The obvious benefit of adding a socially conscious component to your business or new personal project is that you’re helping an important cause you’re passionate about. But that’s only the beginning. Incorporating social good into your work means collaborating with passionate people and thinking innovatively in a positive way. Also, it just plain feels good to know that you’re giving back and that makes the extra work required for a socially focused business or project beyond worth it.