Most every day at Impact! is fun and inspiring in one way or another, but this week was especially chock-full of excitement. Not only did we successfully present our Team Project ideas to our clients, we had a pizza-party-movie-night, AND we got to spend two class sessions with Lee Davis. The man behind NESsT taught us the ins-and-outs of social entrepreneurship. Halfway through the first class he had us standing on our chairs, pledging our allegiance to our own ability to work for social change and making a profit, both at the same time!
One of the most refreshing aspect of Impact! has been the revelation that folks today, particularly consumers, are looking for more than fancy features in the products they purchase. They’re also looking for meaning. Nearly all successful companies are implementing “Corporate Social Responsibility,” a concept that means they put some of their profit toward giving back. Research shows that consumers don’t mind paying a little extra more for a product if they know some of their money will be going toward a good cause. Now we can certainly debate whether these corporations are acting out of the goodness of their hearts, or are simply tugging at heartstrings in order to sell more. But the good news is, this concept works in our favor. As we design our own projects for social change, one of the biggest obstacles is financing. Grants and donations are the most common way non-profit organizations obtain funding, but those sources are not always consistent. A few very smart non-profits have borrowed from the for-profit world and found that by also selling products or services related to their mission, they can fund their missions in a more sustainable way. By applying the same approach to our own products, us Impact!-ers may have the key to funding our projects, supporting ourselves, and changing the world, all at the same time!