A mashup of corporate social opportunities and charities

I was recently in the House of Lords with Lord Andrew Mawson and a representative of the Australian Government discussing approaches to ‘social enterprise’ and the need to stop cultures of dependancy and entitlement. We spoke about the concept of corporate social opportunities where the line between traditional CSR activities of big businesses, social enterprises and charitable activities is blurring.

It was therefore interesting to reflect upon this discussion after spending some time this weekend watching Dan Pallotta’s TED presentation about how the way society views charities as being completely wrong, particularly how we confuse morality (why charities exist) with frugality (the widely held views about why charities should not spend much money on their overheads).

I’ve been fortunate to have some involvement with some great social enterprises, and there are a couple of charities that I massively rate. The one of most interest to me is the St Paul’s Way Transformation Project which explores a range of new business models by creating innovative partnerships – public sector, private sector, non-profits and so on; that being said, I’ve never really given traditional charities a great deal of thought until this video of Dan’s. I really value visibility around what charities are spending money on (and I am a trustee of a charity also) – and I particularly like how Kiva adds the operational costs on top of the underlying donation. But that doesn’t go far enough – we all need recognise that in the same way that successful, profitable businesses need to remunerate their teams sufficiently, invest in marketing etc, charities (or whatever the right term should be) must do the same – so thanks Dan for highlighting this very important issue!

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