The recent recession has shown how corporate company budgets can tighten when it comes to philanthropy, in the face of budget cuts and a down market. Many companies are concerned that charities aren’t yielding the full benefits of non-cash resources that can be as valuable as money, when faced with recessionary pressures. This means that social change organizations need use strategic thinking by utilizing expertise, time, profile-raising, free advertising space, celebrity endorsement, and other gifts-in-kind, to raise awareness and create a positive impact.
Experts argue that there is a “mismatch” between corporations and charities when it comes to the value of their partnerships. While companies see reputation and credibility as important components in their partnerships with charities, charities are more predominantly focused on seeking out money. Additionally, a strikingly large number of businesses believe that expertise and non-monetary resources will have a larger impact on their charity partner’s work, then pure donations would, while a significantly smaller number of charities agree with such a statement.
There are a few examples of charities using donated resources such as call-centres or even manpower to raise funds or awareness for their causes – but are these enough? Or are these just a beacon for an increase in the value of in-kind donations to a charities mission?
Perhaps this is the gap that social enterprises can fill. This lack of imagination in terms of how to harness a corporate partnership to complete a social mission can be address through social enterprises. Instead of having a strong focus on monetary donations (which have huge potential of being mismanaged, or not reaching the people or projects that need these funds), focusing on how to best use resources to create positive change (with or without the additional benefit of profit) is where social enterprises differ from many charities.
Whether it is a social enterprise or charity, “resource-raising” is an important component that should be considered when planning the organization’s operations to generate income. By treating this as a component of the organizations core operations, considering the purpose and sustainability of the resources being used and being creative in the way that knowledge, skills, idea and influence is used – social change can be made more effectively and efficiently.