Measuring Social Profit

Measuring Social Profit

“What do you do?”

When we say we run a business it’s the 1st thing we’re asked.

What we say next will either capture the enquirer’s attention, drawing them in or leave them cold.

This is common marketing knowledge, but how well do we all really use these opportunities?

For Owl XL CIC I could say, ‘we help people plan’ and I see the blank expression, showing a total lack of interest.  Whereas, if I said “we help social enterprises vocalise the changes they make to people’s lives and the communities around them” elicits the question “How?”. And a conversation starts.  The first response is a method, how we do it in technical terms and how most people start explaining their business.  The second response is our purpose, the reason we exist, which is far more engaging and exciting.

Social Profit is all about achieving your higher purpose, not an end in itself like plain old Profit which is just measured in financial terms.

So how do Social Enterprises break down their social profit into a ‘balance sheet’ that shows the whole range of impacts they make?  This is all about having a clear focus on what their objectives are and outcomes.  That is, being able to describe what positive change they expect to achieve, clearly defining the planned community or individual impact.  For Owl XL CIC it is important that this is done in a bespoke way that makes sense to the social enterprise, that they know when they have achieved them.  No vagueness, no intangibles, just clearly described impact measurements.

Why is it so important to do this?  In this day and age, when everyone is far more concerned about how businesses work, making them aware of the good businesses do is key marketing.  Businesses that can describe and outwardly promote, in ways people relate to, the benefit they provide above financial profit, they have an upper hand in the market, which in turn increases their business and their social profit.  If they can describe how their whole business improves people’s life chances, wellbeing, provides training and employment opportunities for those furthest from the market, give opportunities for genuine diversity and inclusion not offered elsewhere, how they support communities or help the environment, it attracts investment in customer numbers, word of mouth promotion, funders and sponsors.  Promotion is raised to another level.

For Owl XL CIC we provide affordable support to social enterprises to be able to do this, in whichever way each individual entrepreneur relates to, a bespoke service.  And when we have financial profit ourselves, we donate it to The Rotary Foundation, that’s Rotary International’s own charity, to further support Economic Development around the world.

The trouble is that entrepreneurs generally struggle to explain what their social profit is.  They know, in their hearts, but find it hard to describe.  We have met with amazing entrepreneurs who can describe their mission and vision, then go on to describe the amazing things they are going to do. We have to work hard at drilling up to clearly define that gap between their mission and what they do, the detailed objectives that give meat to their vision, that layer of planning that is the key to effective promotion.

Social enterprises need to be able to shout from the roof tops what they are achieving.  They are changing the World for the better and everyone needs to know they are there doing it and know where to find them.  Measuring their social profit is what empowers them to do this.

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