This post was originally produced for Forbes.
We are now in the golden age of purpose (see my last piece.) This unique moment in history may provide an unprecedented opportunity to profit from implementing solutions to the world’s biggest problems.
Estée Lauder’s Nancy Mahon suggested that now is the time. She lead’s the company’s efforts to raise money to fight AIDS, an effort that has yielded $480 million, making the company a leading source of funding.
Accepting Mahon’s challenge to identify ways that we can capitalize on this purpose-centered time, here are nine specific ideas for employing purpose to solve real-world social problems while benefiting from the efforts as a business or entrepreneur.
- Be like MAC Cosmetics. Sell a product unrelated to the problem you hope to sell and donate the proceeds to the cause. Get your distribution partners to donate their piece of the pie on that product as well so you can maximize your impact.
- Sell a product and donate only the profits to your cause. Choose the product carefully so you can fine tune the donation size to your goal and ability. (If you sell ice cream and 40% of your profit comes from chocolate, 5% comes from strawberry and 2% comes from bubble gum, pick the product better fits your objective for social impact).
- Sell a product that solves a big problem for low-income families at an affordable price, take JIBU in Africa, which sells bottled water more affordably. Not only do families benefit from more affordable drinking water, the company empowers small entrepreneurs through a generous franchise program.
- Commit to old-fashioned values, like IBM, which didn’t lay off a single worker over a seventy-year span. Are layoffs really a necessary part of your business?
- Aggregate customer donations for a cause by collecting change at the till (like McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House Charities) or rounding up orders online (like GoDaddy, giving you a choice of four charities).
- Integrate your vision of the world into your supply chain by empowering low-income communities to do business with you directly, keeping more of the value for themselves rather than working through brokers who add little value. DōTERRA calls this co-impact sourcing.
- Ensure that 100% of your power is from renewable resources. In today’s economy, this can bring cost savings as well as an environmental benefit your employees and customers will appreciate. If you can’t get to 100% you can buy offsets less expensively than you’d imagine at Cool Effect.
- Share ownership with your employees through a co-op structure or an employee stock ownership plan. The tax advantages, improvement in morale and customer loyalty may leave you better off owning less of your company.
- Start by redefining your company’s responsibility as solely to shareholders and the creation of value for them and refocus on creating value for all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, your community and the planet. Registering as a b-corporation can help you reach those objectives.
These ideas are incomplete but all of them are being implemented in real life every day by companies and entrepreneurs who are determined to do business in a way that is good for the world.
This is “the golden age of purpose” and business can accelerate solutions to all the world’s major problems from poverty to disease and climate change. Capitalism can be the driving force for good in the world if we impose a conscience upon it. Conscious capitalism, as it is sometimes called, takes many forms and offers even more benefits than naked capitalism. How will you have impact?
If you share my passion for doing good with your money, learn how you can become an impact investor with my online course, 25% off with this link.
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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!