Beyond Philanthropy: Transform Your Business Into a Force For Good

by Oct 30, 2023BCorp, Giving, Philanthropy, Profitability, Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs

Conscious-Preneur Magazine, October 2023

The groundswell toward businesses moving from purely profit-driven to purpose-driven has been decades in the making. The rise of conscious capitalism, social impact, and the B Corp movement has given business owners new ways to consider their benefit to society and the planet.

At the same time, a new generation of employees and customers are seeking Purpose from the brands they support and the places they work. 

Some businesses think doing good for people or the planet involves making a donation and ticking a box – that’s philanthropy. While there is a place for it, it’s time to move beyond corporate philanthropy, ESG (environmental, social and governance) or CSR (corporate social responsibility).

Instead, companies should be striving to be a ‘force for good’, to exist for reasons beyond just making a profit with a clearly defined Higher Purpose. This Purpose then needs to be fully embedded in the DNA and operations of your business. Here’s how you can get started on your company’s Purpose journey:

Finding Higher Purpose 

Higher Purpose is the WHY behind what you do, beyond making money. It’s your company’s North Star – and provides clarity and direction, informs your business decisions, and allows your business to stay on track even when challenges arise. 

Your Higher Purpose is the WHY behind what you do, beyond making money. It’s your company’s North Star.

Your Higher Purpose includes the cause or issue you feel impassioned to help solve – your ‘rally cry’ – that engages your customers and stakeholders, and motivates your employees.

Higher Purpose is more than a mission statement on the wall or website, or a declaration of your business’ values. When done right, everyone who comes in contact with your business knows what you stand for – they see it and feel it. 

We find that many business owners have difficulty envisioning the impact they want to make. While ‘picking’ a cause based on a fad or movement might be tempting, it’s the wrong approach. Picking a cause for the sake of picking it, is not authentic or meaningful, and doesn’t represent the WHY and Purpose of the company. The cause or issue you support must be authentic and meaningful to you, the business owner. 

On the other side, are business owners who already know a cause or problem they want to tackle. But they have difficulty connecting the issue to their business goals, products or services.

Why Is Purpose Critical For Business Owners? 

Purpose is critical because your stakeholders (those are your customers, employees, and community) are seeking connections with your business more than ever before. They’re seeking companies that share similar values, make a positive difference, and take a stand on important issues. 

Millennials (the first digitally savvy generation) and Gen Z (who don’t know life before the internet) are plugged into the issues plaguing the world, with social media keeping it top of mind.

Millennials and Gen Z are plugged into the issues plaguing the world, with social media keeping it top of mind.

They will make up 75% of the workforce in the next couple of years. They are smart, aware of world issues and care about making a difference personally and professionally.

The incoming Gen Alpha, who will be entering the workforce and economy in droves in the years to come, are just as savvy as Gen Z.  

Purpose is critical to engage and attract these new generations of loyal customers and great employees – they are your present and future internal and external stakeholders. 

Purpose matters to them, so it’s time to consider this as a foundational piece of your business to future-proof your company. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s has always spoken out on racial injustice, so their support of Black Lives Matter was genuine and their followers knew it. 

It’s no longer enough to just make a great product or offer a fantastic service. Your new customers and younger employees also want you to authentically take a stand on issues.

Sustainable Development Goals: A Framework

A great framework to get your head and heart around the big issues of the world (and your community) is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Take some time to understand them and how they relate to the issues you see in your community.


Where does your Purpose (and issues you feel impassioned to solve), cross over with the SDGs?

Use the umbrella analogy to break it down:

  • Think of the bigger cause as the top of the umbrella.
  • What are all the contributing factors to the issue? Think of these as the ribs of the umbrella.
  • Now narrow down the contributing factors until you find the one part of the cause that resonates with you, and the one your business can champion for the long haul. 

As with any new concept, having a proven framework to follow and a consultant to help you do it right, is worth their weight in gold.

How Does Your Company Benefit Society?

If your company only exists to make money and you haven’t thought about how you can benefit society or the planet, these questions can help you get started: 

  1. When you look around your community or the world, what makes you mad or tugs at your heart? 
  2. What issue comes to mind if you think, “Someone needs to solve that thing and the world would be a better place”? What needs to be fixed now?
  3. If your products or services don’t directly relate to solving that issue, is there a way to innovate to connect the two?
  4. If you’re a new company, are you going into business with the specific desire to solve a world or community issue? 
  5. What Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) does your chosen issue relate to? Getting your head and heart wrapped around the issue is easier when you understand the elements of the related SDG. 

We’re pleased so many companies care deeply about making an impact. Once you know the Higher Purpose and the greater good you want to have, then it’s time to fully embed it into the DNA of the business by:

  • engaging your internal and external stakeholders (aka sharing it with your employees, customers and community)
  • developing a financially sustainable contribution model
  • aligning with an organization that’s working on the issue
  • reviewing your supply chain for sustainability and ethics
  • amplifying your message and impact
  • and finally … measuring your impact. 

Transforming your business into a social impact business is an exciting process.

Operating with an
impact lens helps to
future-proof your company.

Operating with an impact lens helps to future-proof your company. An impact focus increases revenue, attracts and retains top employees, and increases innovation. And of this while contributing to the greater good for your people and the planet. It’s critical to the future success of your business. Your employees and customers will demand it if they aren’t already! 

And finally, here are the top five benefits to your bottom line:

  1. Purpose is your company’s north star, providing clear direction in good times and bad, helping to future-proof your company. 
  2. Companies with a high sense of Purpose are more profitable – experiencing a brand valuation increase of 175% over the past 12 years. (Kantar Purpose 2020 study). 
  3. Purpose helps establish trust and fills your pipeline with customers who feel connected to you. Give your customers a reason to buy from you and support you. In turn, your revenues will increase!
  4. Purpose gives your employees meaning and motivation leading to more engaged happier staff. Reduce your onboarding costs, experience easier acquisition and better employee retention. 
  5. Purpose creates brand differentiation, and increases exposure and visibility. This helps you stand out as a purpose-driven company and impact leader in your industry. 

Business 4 Social Good works with clients shifting their focus to people, planet, purpose, and profit. Our clients gain perspective and tools to fully envision their impact and engage with their employees, customers, and community. We help bring impact to life in tangible, meaningful ways. Learn more about us at www.business4socialgood.ca 

(Original article link. Edited for clarity.)

Deb Alcadinho, Chief Impact Officer & Founder, Business 4 Social Good

Author: Deb Alcadinho

Deb Alcadinho is the Founder & Chief Impact Officer at Business 4 Social Good, and the Founder of The Social Good Academy. She’s a social impact trainer and consultant to female business owners who want to move beyond CSR and philanthropy, and position social good at the heart of their business.

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