The Different Types of Social Impact Startups

mentioned, I previously at a tech company
that really was not a social impact space at all. And so as we were
figuring out how to turn this into
a business, we went to a handful of
different events and I felt like there was a lot of
different definitions of impact investments, or of
social entrepreneurs, or of impact entrepreneurs. And it was a little overwhelming
and a little bit confusing. And so, essentially, I
looked at the different kinds of companies that people were
pointing at or highlighting as successes and
sought to figure out a couple of different flavors
that make sense to me. And so I wanted to share
those for a moment. And so the first
group I think of is organizations that
have dedicated themselves to taking a share
of their profits and making an impact with that. So that can be organizations
like TOMS, who sell shoes. And then for every
pair that somebody buys, they donate a pair
to somebody in need. Or Warby Parker, who does the
same with eyewear, or even a brand like Ben & Jerry’s,
who sells ice creams, but has dedicated
themselves to giving back to farming communities and a lot
of charitable work around that. I see that as one
flavor– organizations who take a portion of their
profits and give it back, but it’s core to their DNA. And consumers and
customers really know that, as part
of buying from them, a share of what they’re spending
is going to be given back. A second flavor that we often
see– and this is probably where our company
fits– is organizations that are helping more dollars
move to philanthropy and move to charity, whether that’s
organizations like ourselves or fundraising
organizations that are helping these organizations
more effectively operate or more effectively fundraise. And examples there,
GoFundMe obviously has been tremendously successful
over the last 10 years. We’re even seeing
Facebook now get into charitable giving campaigns
within the giving feed. Or an organization
like Classy, which is doing amazing work with
helping charities fundraise. And so I see that
being a second group, where they’re helping
charitable organizations be more efficient
and more effective. And then the third flavor–
which is it seems like both of these women’s
organizations fall into– are groups where giving
back is core to their DNA, and core to their
service, and core to their product
in and of itself. And so in that case, the
product makes an amazing impact in the communities, like
Layla was mentioning earlier. But also, they are
generating a profit. And so well-known
examples there can include Tesla, who
obviously are delivering an amazing vehicle,
but, at the same time, reducing carbon emissions
and reducing reliance on gas. So those are sort of
three flavors that I think is a useful framework to think
about things as you figure out what kind of impact is my
organization going to have, and how do we want to build
it into our business model, and into our core DNA.

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