Marketing Your Social Enterprise: Advice To Maximise Your Impact

Photo credits from ST Conference:  Just Gold Digital Agency .

Photo credits from ST Conference: Just Gold Digital Agency.

On August 20th, Impact Boom ran the ‘Marketing Your Enterprise’ session at the Social Traders Conference in Melbourne, bringing together some of Australia’s leading social entrepreneurs for some informative and lively presentations and discussion to help social entrepreneurs create better brands.

Cinnamon Evans, Mardi Brown and Cat Harding shared key insights, providing key marketing lessons learnt running their enterprises in a session moderated by Tom Allen. The audience provided some great questions, adding to a robust conversation. Listen to the podcast or find the article below.

Impact Boom would like to thank Social Traders for hosting the Conference and everyone from Australia’s growing social enterprise community who attended and contributed.

 

The Panelists

Cinnamon Evans
CEO, CERES

Cinnamon Evans is the CEO of CERES, a Melbourne icon, known around the world for embodying what is possible when communities come together to support more sustainable and just ways of living. Through Cinnamon’s leadership, CERES has developed an integrated suite of 13 social enterprises that enable customers to engage with and inhabit a more sustainable and just world. CERES is now 95% self-funded through their social enterprises, and remains a collaborative community organisation.

Cinnamon is the current Chairperson of SENVIC (Social Enterprise Network Victoria), an emerging network of social enterprise practitioners and supporters. Cinnamon is particularly passionate about the role of social enterprise in delivering environmental and social change, having experienced first-hand the transformative power of this movement.

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Mardi Brown
Co-Founder, PonyUp for Good

Mardi Brown is a trained Behavioural Specialist and Marketer and has worked as Head of People & Culture with TEDxMelbourne and in her own consultancy, helped businesses develop strategies and standards for their own workplace cultures. She has 15+ years experience leading teams as a Senior Marketer across Tourism, Hospitality & HR in both Australia and North America.

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Cat Harding
Co-Founder, PonyUp for Good

Cat Harding is a communications and project management professional with over 20 years experience across a multitude of industries. She has launched music careers, dressed 20,000 people for the Commonwealth Games and managed communications projects for London Underground, Pacific Brands and CitiPower and Powercor. Cat has two beautiful girls and wants to come home every day proud of the impact she has made in the world so she can teach her children that one person with the right attitude can make a difference. Her dream is to make ‘PonyUp’ as much the common vernacular for what you do with redundant technology as Googling has become the term for how you search for information.

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Tom Allen (Session host)
Founder & CEO, Impact Boom.

Tom Allen is Founder and CEO of Impact Boom and is passionate about working with purpose-driven organisations, entrepreneurs, individuals and regions to deliver strong, lasting social and environmental impact. Tom works to help social entrepreneurs and their regions to thrive, building critical skills and design-led mindsets capable of tackling complex challenges. 

He also works with leading universities, governments and clients locally & internationally to develop and deliver world-class programs across social entrepreneurship and innovation. Tom is highly active in building the social enterprise ecosystem in Australia and is a Board Member of the Queensland Social Enterprise Council and Social Enterprise Network Logan, a Fellow at the Yunus Centre (Griffith University) and an Advisory Panel Member of QUT Bluebox ImpaQt. Tom is leading the bid to bring the Social Enterprise World Forum to Australia.

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Highlights from the Event

(listen to the podcast for full details)

[Tom Allen] - I'd like you to think about one of your best friends; someone who you've known for a long time. This is not someone that you met six months ago, but perhaps someone you’ve known for a while. Okay? Think about the first moment that you met that person. What was it like when you met that person for the first time? When you shook their hand or gave them a hug? Was there a warm intro through other friends? Was it in the school playground? What did that feel like for you to meet that person? Initially, there might've been some excitement there. Initially there was a connection with this person. You felt good, you felt like there was a strong possibility that this person could become a longterm friend. Over time when you met the same person again, how did it feel then? This is a story that Leanne Farnworth, who we do a little bit of work with as a presenter on our programs, (and who wrote this guest blog post about branding), tells really well.

Why was it that over time you built a relationship with that particular person? What were those actions which helped solidify that particular relationship? There's other relationships you can probably think of where something went wrong and someone dropped off the radar.

When it comes to marketing your enterprises and building solid brands, it's very, very similar to the sort of human relationships that we have and form in our daily lives, particularly the good ones, like those of longterm best friends.

And what I mean by that is that marketing goes much, much further than some great Twitter or Facebook accounts or a snazzy logo.

Typically when people think of marketing, I don't know whether all of you agree, (and we can reflect on this a little bit later), but a lot of the enterprises I work with typically jump straight into the social media and the branding element of things and of course, the logo and getting the feel in that way. But it's important for us to reflect that if we're to market our enterprises effectively, we need to come back to those authentic relationships. Just like the relationships that you have with your good friends. Over time you see that those people are authentic. They are authentic in who they are, what their values are, and how they talk and what you expect of them. They are consistent over time. You come to expect something of that particular person, and as you meet them again, and again, and again, their values and behaviours will remain very similar. And they are trustworthy, you build trust with those people.

So coming back to marketing extending much beyond our social media and our websites, our marketing exists in all our interactions, in all our outward facing communications with our stakeholders, with our staff. Sally Quinn today was talking about a great example of culture where she said her staff were proud to be wearing the uniforms. Your brand is your culture. It's in the way that you respond to emails, the sort of conversations you have over coffee. This is all marketing for your enterprise.

Those are the starting words that I wanted to kick off with today before we jump over to Cinnamon Evans. Cinnamon, thanks for joining us for this session.

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[Cinnamon Evans] - Thanks very much Tom, and good morning everyone. As Tom said, I'm the CEO of CERES and also the Chairperson of SENVIC. CERES has both a narrative director and a communications manager in our team, and both of these lovely people would be far better qualified than I to talk to you about CERES marketing. However, as CEO, I have travelled the journey alongside them and I consulted our narrative director in preparing my presentation today. So I'll share a few stories with you and also four particular lessons that we have learned as an organisation.

Lesson number one is around narrative. CERES is very well known across Melbourne. Hands up who is familiar with CERES organisation. The majority of people in the room!

It's quite hard to explain CERES in an elevator pitch. We are many, many things to many people. We're a public park. We're probably best known as a public park with all sorts of demonstrations about sustainable and regenerative living and with a variety of facilities that the community can use. We're also Victoria's leading provider of environmental education programs for all ages, from bush kinder to school excursions, teacher professional development, permaculture and urban farming courses, weekend workshops. The list goes on, and we continue to think about ways that we can expand our sustainability education and training offerings. We are financially sustainable through our social enterprises, which are trading organic food, permaculture plants and farm grown timber, along with the onsite facilities that we have.

So all of this activity has developed incrementally over nearly 40 years into the diversity of offerings that exist today. For many, many years, we struggled to find a narrative that explains CERES, that was big enough to include all of these things, but which was also still meaningful. Here are some examples of some of the ways we've tried to explain ourselves in the past, including the one that you just read out earlier:

  • ‘CERES is a place which exists to initiate and support environmental sustainability and social equity with an emphasis on cultural richness and community participation…’ Well, that's a matter of fact description, but I didn't find it very uplifting. I'm not sure about you, but ...

  • So, in a similar vein, we also have, ‘CERES is a place for community based learning and action to create environmentally beneficial, socially just, economically satisfying, culturally enriching and spiritually nurturing ways of living together.’ Very wordy, very long. It's a bit better, but I still don't find it very compelling.

  • ‘CERES is a place where people come together to share ideas about living well together and directly participate in meeting their social and material needs in a sustainable way.’ That's okay.

  • ‘CERES is a model of positive solution oriented practises.’ Well, maybe, but we're also more than that.

  • And finally, ‘CERES is creating a new way of being’, but that one's a bit awkward because are we really creating a new way of being? Can we really claim that? What does that even mean?

So two years ago I was in Melbourne Airport with Chris Ennis, one of my team on our way to the Social Enterprise World Forum in Christchurch. It was early morning, and we are waiting in the departure lounge. And I was moaning, as I often do, about how I feel the root cause of all of our social and environmental problems is there’s a profound disconnection from the earth and from each other. And Chris said to me, "Say that in the positive." And so I said, "We need to fall in love with the earth again." And there it was. It took us years. It's not wordsmithed, it's not from an intellectual place.

It's a deep truth about why we exist as an organisation and why we do the work that we do.

I was a bit hesitant initially because it's a little bit different. But everyone seems to get it. Everyone I started saying it to, or presented it to, kind of looked and nodded and said, "Yeah, we need to fall in love with the earth again." So the lesson in this part of my presentation is…

have a clean narrative that sets out your underlying social and/or environmental purpose in a compelling way. Why do you do what you do? is it easy for people to understand what that is?

Because often our organisations are complex. Can you make it easy to understand?

Lesson number two is about brand. As I mentioned, CERES has grown over 40 years into the diverse and complex organisation that it is now. And because of this incremental growth, we ended up with multiple brands. Talk about brand dilution! So the big one in the middle [referring to her slide], is our previous brand, which we'd had for maybe 20 years.

The broad mix of CERES previous inconsistent branding.

The broad mix of CERES previous inconsistent branding.

On the right, there are some varieties that had sprung from that and on the left, some that were completely different altogether. So we were trading under all of these brands. And because of limited funds, a centralised communication and marketing resource was small, which meant that each enterprise had to market itself, which gave each manager of each enterprise full creative licence to create their own brand and their own brand identity. And over time they became very attached to those brands. But we knew that we were on the wrong path and it was only going to lead to further dilution, and also that it wouldn't fix itself. We had to actually take some action.

It was time to bring in the experts, and last year we were very fortunate to have pro-bono support from Seesaw, who are an award-winning branding agency, and they undertook a comprehensive consultation process and really took the time to understand us, which I feel very grateful for and they gave us this brand. I'll just show you some examples. So that's the primary brand and then all of the sub brands that go with it.

An example of CERES new branding, which is consistent across all their social enterprises.

An example of CERES new branding, which is consistent across all their social enterprises.

Each part of CERES still gets its own identity, but we have a consistent image. It was immediately accepted by all of the people, which is amazing and it's a joy to be able to communicate our diversity under a single brand. So the lesson here is…

have a consistent and recognisable brand.

Lesson number three is about heroes. Similarly to when you meet people for the first time, imagine that you're at a party and you meet someone and they only talk about themselves. It's not very interesting. Well, maybe it's interesting for a while, and then it's not very interesting.

Don't always talk about yourself.

Fortunately as social enterprises, we're not in it for ourselves. There are plenty of other people to talk about and raise up.

Promote other people's good stories and good work. Those of your audience, those of your beneficiaries, those of your partners and supporters, and also provide context.

Talk about your purpose. What is your reason for being? What is the bigger picture that your organisation is involved in?

So even when we talk about social enterprise, we can talk about the bigger picture. Social enterprise is not an end in itself. We all working towards a just, inclusive and sustainable society. So how does what you're doing support that movement?

So the lesson here is…

don't always be the hero of your own story. Raise up the people around you, make it about you and or your audience, beneficiaries, partners and supporters, and even better, make it about all of us.

And finally, conversation.

These days, marketing is no longer about simply broadcasting. It's more about having a conversation with your audience.

Going back to the party analogy, don't just talk about yourself. Give space for the other person to talk too. Ask them questions and be honest and authentic. Talk about your failures as well as your successes. At CERES we have an ongoing conversation across a number of channels, including our website and social media channels with people who are vegan. People who are vegan are often very, very passionate about being vegan. I'm personally not Vegan, but I absolutely respect and admire their choices. CERES sells and serves organic dairy products and a limited range of organic meat products. And we regularly get very, very public feedback that that's not acceptable to some people. Even among our staff, there are very, very divergent views, and we feel that our role is to allow space for the conversation. These conversations, and many others, as we co-create the future, we need to do that with our community in the conversation. And at some point we may choose to change our business practise, at this point we're sticking with our current business practise, but at some point we may change it in response to feedback from the community.

Sometimes communication with your community leads you down a path that must lead to change. So be prepared to change if you need to and if you want to.

So this lesson is about having honest and authentic conversations and being responsive to feedback from your community.

So in conclusion, as Tom said, communications is not something that happens separately and later on. It's at the core of your business.

Everything you do is a communications activity, from the stories that you tell, to the way that you interact with your community. Have a compelling narrative, have a recognisable brand, raise up the people around you and have honest and authentic conversations about how we'd like the world to be. Work together with your community, our broader community for a just, inclusive, sustainable economy.

Thank you.

[Tom Allen] - Thank you very much, Cinnamon, that was wonderful. Having those authentic conversations was a highlight that you really brought out then. Something else that came to mind was a quote by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, who says, "Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."

Next up, we have the Co-Founders of PonyUp for Good, Mardi Brown and Cat Harding.

[Mardi Brown] - Good morning everyone. Can I just repeat that little exercise that Cinnamon did earlier and see if anyone knows or has heard of PonyUp for Good? All right, we’ve still got some work to do.

We’ll give you a little bit of background about who we are and how we came about so that you can understand a little bit more about how we approached our narrative. Cat and I had known each other for many years. We had, I guess, shared one of those same values in life where we had the same feeling that we never wanted to be asleep at the wheel. We had spent several years in internal communications and marketing for large corporates and subsequently had our souls sucked out through our fingernails. And so at some point in time we both decided that we wanted to work together and we wanted to do something that was bigger than ourselves.

Off to the side, I had been working as a volunteer for a Cambodian charity for the last seven years and had been taking old tech or decommissioned technology from my husband's business and selling it and donating the proceeds to this charity. And I had a bit of a three o'clock insomniatic moment one night when we were looking at ideas and thought, "Well, hell, that's one organisation keeping technology out of landfill. What is everybody else doing?" And so we threw ourselves into the research, and ...

[Cat Harding] - For the record, what we knew about secondhand technology could fit on the back of a matchbox!

[Mardi Brown] - Oh yeah. Yeah. So we threw ourselves into that research and we found out that Australia is importing over 35 million pieces of technology into the country every year. And we're also responsible for landfilling globally over 20 million tonnes of technology; going into our land, going into our soil, going into our waterways. Some pretty bloody noxious chemicals going into there. This was enough to inspire us, so we came up with our business model PonyUp for Good. It is a social enterprise. To give you a very brief overview, (because I'm going to explain a lot of the moving parts of this as we go on), we work with big businesses across Australia. They donate, they decommission technology to us. We data erase it to Department of Defence Standard, we provide asset registers, we keep it out of landfill. We reuse in line with the EPS and we donate 50% of our profits to SecondBite who is a major food rescue charity here in Australia.

[Cat Harding] - When we were building our business model, we knew that the technology out of landfill was the first thing that we wanted to address, and the question then came, ‘who do we donate 50% of our profits to?’ And when we sat and looked at what was our core motivation around the technology, it was about keeping things out of landfill. And we felt that food rescue was a really natural link because it was about keeping food out of landfill. When we started to look into the stats, what we discovered is that $4 billion worth of food in Australia alone goes into landfill every year, while 4 million Australians go hungry. So here we've got all of this food that creates not just your standard gases, but your mega gases that are really creating environmental devastation. And there were people that are going without food that could have eaten that food. So it's something that just doesn't make sense. That was why we launched our partnership with SecondBite. Last year alone, they rescued 14 million kilograms of fresh food.

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They are fundamentally a logistics not for profit, and what they do is they collect food from supermarkets, markets. They partner with Coles primarily, but they also work with Woollies and Aldi. And then what they do is they re-divert that food to community groups, 1300 of them across the country. And then those community groups distribute the food to people who need it. It also saves the community groups up to $30 million a year which they get to then spend on other things. So they get to spend that on emergency housing and medical assistance and other things that people who are currently going without might need. They feed 75,000 people every day using something that would otherwise end up in landfill. So they're pretty amazing.

[Mardi Brown] - So, in the past three years that we have been trading, PonyUp for Good has kept almost 140,000 kilos of technology out of landfill with the assistance of our business partners, our business customers. We've been able to reuse over 43% of this technology, which is I think a pretty great number. And we are about to click over our 300,000th fresh meal donation to SecondBite. Our mission by the end of next year, (and we've been strapping several boat motors to ourselves in order to do this), is to keep 1 million kilos of technology out of landfill by the end of 2020, and to be able to donate 1 million meals. When we look at this report here, this is reflective of the report that every client receives for every tech collection that we pick up.

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So essentially when an organisation donates technology to us, they also receive data erase certificates, they also receive asset registers. But they receive this metric, and this metric is really important in providing a purpose for our clients to keep their eye on the target and know why they have engaged with us and know that they're part of something bigger, as part of their own brand culture and their own brand legacy as well. So every client gets an updated summary of this report every time they collect technology for us.

[Cat Harding] -

These statistics are a point of pride with our clients. They share them with their stakeholders, they are in their annual reports every year, and most importantly, they share them with their employees, which is primarily one of the reasons that I enjoy working with social enterprises, and that’s the stories, and the culture, and the values that they can build within their business.

So being able to have something tangible and real that we can share with a client has been something that's really helped us gain traction with some big businesses.

So just when we started the business one of the things that we really needed to understand was, what motivates the people that we'd like to work with? We've been incredibly fortunate in our client acquisitions. We're currently working with Australia Post, with Telstra, we're working with some various Victorian Government departments, McConnell Dowell…

the reason that we've been able to gain traction with some of those businesses is by understanding what motivates them.

There are a number of different things and I'm sure it'll be different for each and everyone of you and the clients that you're looking to work with, but we know primarily the areas that they're looking to fulfil is environmental, employment outcomes. A lot of people are working to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, have social procurement spend targets that you can help them achieve.

It's really important to spend some time before you engage with any client to understand what's motivating them.

So if you are able to understand a business overarching strategy and you can do that by looking at their website, by looking at their annual reports and by understanding what motivates them, what you'll achieve is that you'll understand at a senior level what they are measuring and what they are looking to achieve. And if you can walk into a business and say, "I know that you're trying to keep a zero waste target, we can help you achieve that." You are automatically going to be in a position where you can move quickly up the chain because they understand the value that you will bring to their business for something that they are already looking to achieve.

I think that that's been probably the underlying success that we've had in the businesses that we've worked with is knowing what are they looking to achieve and how can we help them get there.

Before I move on, I do want to give you a quick example of that. That was the Victorian Government, which was one of the key clients we've been seeking to work with. We know that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has a waste to landfill ban that they've implemented from July 1st, so we've been able to navigate through into that department. We know that there's a social procurement framework, and we are Social Traders Certified, meaning that any spend with us can contribute to that. And we're about to embark upon some work with them in the circular economy space as well.

[Mardi Brown] - I think a really great example of this is one of our clients SXiQ. And if I can paint a picture about using what you have to offer to provide a really relevant service to your clients, this is really at the core of where your marketing becomes valuable and where it becomes relevant. And you have a partnership that is sustainable and long term. We have a client by the name of SXiQ. They are an IT and managed services organisation. Their CEO, when he took over this business was doing a round of cultural workshops with his team and really understanding what was going to be their legacy moving forward. He had this opportunity to build that right from the start. And we were fortunate enough to meet him right at that point in time.

And some of the amazing things that we've been able to do to provide purpose to his business is we've set up volunteer days at SecondBite for his team. Some of the really measurable aspects of this is that a lot of their tender processes with their sales team, now have to have an environmental and community outcome as part of that end of life of their technology. So we are that solution for them and it's winning them business. We are doing dual speaking opportunities such as this. We spoke at a large health informatics conference together last week.

So it's making yourself part of their business and a valuable part of their business culture, and helping them to create a brand legacy, because I think sometimes a lot of organisations like to outsource their thinking around how can they engage their team? How can they engage their brand in something that is worthwhile? If you can make that really easy for them and have something that just clicks into their business as usual, that means it's not a lot of work, it's not a lot of overkill. They don't have to spend a lot of time out of the business, make it simple, make it part of their business as usual, and you're absolutely onto a winner. We do a lot of promotional work on top of all of these, but I think the main success for us is really getting ourselves into people's businesses, usual processes, and that's been what the partnership successes looked like.

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[Cat Harding] -

One of the ways that it's been really successful is by working with those clients to set their own unique and individual targets, and then helping them measure that.

And that's a really great way to engage and get the teams on board. So SXiQ, we've set volunteer targets for the amount of hours that their staff have volunteered at SecondBite. We've set targets for the number of meals that we've been able to deliver through our partnership with SXiQ and now working with Sensus, Red Energy, City West Water. They are bringing us clients because their team are motivated to reach these targets. And taking a certain pride in being able to deliver something that they can go home to their families and say, "Hey, I'm working on this project and it's not just an IT project, but we've fed 20,000 people on this upgrade program that we did."

It's something really real and really tangible that when I go home at the end of the day, that I haven't just done that, but they've given back as well.

So we get to share that sense of social enterprise and that sense of giving back with the people that we work with. And that's where setting targets and measuring outcomes becomes so valuable, because people feel a part of it. And they are motivated by a journey and an experience that they can take together.

And to that end…

the most important thing that you can have that will underpin all of the communications and all of the marketing that you do is your journey.

Every book and every movie that you've ever loved in your life has a protagonist, and they have a journey to a point. So if you set a target and then you take your clients and your customers and your stakeholders on that journey with you, you will have an engagement level that will engage people. As Cinnamon said really well earlier, ‘don't just talk about yourself,’ but talk about the journey. So the journey can be who are the people that you're working with? What are the wins that you've had? What are the challenges that you had? Who are the characters that are working or volunteering on the site? What are the locations? What's the back history to that?

And when you start to build all of those pieces, you'll have a social media strategy that tells the story from beginning to end that people will be interested in. Because it's real and it's vulnerable and it's authentic, and people will be engaged in the process from getting from A to B. We talk about our million kilos and our million meals, and that's the theme that sits in the middle of our journey. But we also like to talk about SecondBite because that's the real stuff.

[Mardi Brown] - Yeah absolutely, and storytelling along the way is really important. Who are the characters in the factory that are sorting our food on the day to day basis? Who are the people that are getting up at six o'clock in the morning with their kids to show them that they can go to the market and collect fresh food to help feed people. Why are they doing this?

Tell those beautiful little stories and help really engage people along the way because it helps to create that loyalty and that engagement really for the long term.

[Cat Harding] - And also talking about the things that are hard brings a sense of authenticity as well. I think it's really important that everything isn't shiny because some days it's hard, and also celebrate the wins. So when you hit a milestone, make sure that everybody who's been a part of it knows that they've been a part of it and knows that they've helped you get to a from point A to point B.

Thanks very much Mardi and Cat. That was wonderful. And the key thing I got from that was really about that shared purpose with your audience, understanding their needs and also having the metrics and measurement to help them understand how they can reach their goals.

We're going to move to audience Q&As. So who would like to ask the first question?

[Scott Ko] - Thank you everyone. Thank you so much for sharing your insights. To what extent do you think it's important to market the social enterprise component of social enterprise as part of your story? Because we want to understand what our customers and stakeholders want, but sometimes the social enterprise part doesn't necessarily need it or fit into that. I'd love to get your thoughts on that.

[Mardi Brown] - I think if we're talking about outcomes, we often get asked and interviewed quite heavily about where does our money go and how does our business model work? And we're very incredibly transparent about that. I don't think we ever leave the social enterprise part of it out because it's the leverage point of how we're able to create outcomes. I don't have a differing of opinion about why you would leave it out.

[Cinnamon Evans] - I think it depends on your audience. So as a whole organisation, when I explained CERES, I say we're three things. We're a park, we're sustainable through our social enterprises and we have education and training programs. They are three things that we do. And for me that feels important in telling the whole story of CERES. However, our largest single social enterprise CERES Fair Food is an online organic supermarket.

We have discovered over 10 years of trading that we absolutely have to compete on price, convenience and quality. And that the story is secondary to that customer segment. So whilst people will stay with us because of story, they will definitely leave us if we're not competing on a level playing field with everybody else; the non-organic supplies and non social enterprise suppliers.

So that customer segment, social enterprise is not a thing of significance, well, but telling the whole story of the whole organisation that is. So yes and no from me.

Thank you very much, Scott. Next up we have a question from Min.

[Min Seto] - I'm from the Australian Social Value Bank, and I really love the way that you have the infographics saying what your outcomes were, and I think that's where we are in the sector, in the space. Part of what we do is trying to translate that social impact into dollar terms. And it's not just about selling the story. There's lots of other reasons around funding and making the case and all those sorts of things around cost effectiveness. I'm interested to hear your perspective on actually going to that next step and translating outcomes into dollar impact and whether you think that would add to your case or whether you see that as just not being necessary. But if, for example, like with your savings from landfill and then your meals and those sorts of things, if you could aggregate all that up and give a dollar figure and say, "Well, we've actually created this much impact," whether that would actually strengthen the case and whether you think that is a good move or not?

[Cat Harding] - We work with a number of clients and one is London Benchmarking Group. One of the ways that they measure their outcomes is financial. And we do translate some of outcomes into financial. But Mardi and I made a very firm decision when we started PonyUp that that's not how we wanted to talk about our impact. So it's not that we're not able to do it. It's that we choose not to. We want to talk to clients about people sitting at a table and eating a meal. And we felt that that was a more tangible thing for the people that we work with. And the stories that they're looking to tell. In some rare cases we do do it and we are able to do it, but we choose not because we feel that steps away from the narrative that we'd like to tell around the impact that we make in the feeding of people in the keeping of technology out of landfill.

[Min Seto] - So do you think that will change as the impact in the social enterprise space becomes greater and there's more competition about the impact you're creating and being compared? So, for example, with SecondBite, and food banks and those sorts of things, whether that would strengthen or weaken it in terms of then you can become a collective and start to add and say, "Well, all of us together we've created this amount of social impact because it's all in the same terms." Do you think that will have any...?

[Mardi Brown] - I think if it adds value to the narrative and it adds value to the story, I have no problem in that. We're a pretty transparent organisation and yeah, we're always looking to evolve. We're looking at the moment in where we want to be in two years time and that absolutely includes more collaborative partnerships and if it makes sense at the time to talk about the dollar, because that is what the audience needs to hear, or that is what is going to help leverage something else for us, no problem in doing that. For us at the moment, at this point in time, the meal outcomes always just keeps us connected to that meals outcome narrative and the stories. Absolutely, if it needs to change, we would.

[Cinnamon Evans] - CERES hasn't had a lot of resourcing to do even basic impact measurement. But if we had the time and space and resources, I would love to do an economic impact assessment. I think that that would be amazing. And I also think that…

it is important that we are able to demonstrate how social enterprise is a piece of the puzzle with respect to economic change, economic system change.

And so therefore I do think it is important individually and also collectively as a sector that we can demonstrate how we are contributing to that movement towards, well, I think of it as a away from globalisation and toward localisation. And I think social enterprise is a key part of that. So let's raise up that narrative.

Some great points. And thank you for the question Min. We have time for one final question.

Social-enterprise-marketing-tips

[David Laity] - Hi, I'm David from Goodwill Wine. You mentioned that employment outcomes was something that your clients were engaged with or they liked that aspect. Does that mean you're employing from disadvantaged sectors of the community?

[Cat Harding] - It is an area that we have looked at. It is an area that we work in at the moment. We did start to embark upon a program of work a little while ago around that, but that was just a list of some of the things that your clients might be looking for. It's not specifically something that we do.

[David Laity] - Okay. How about at CERES, is that something that you're doing?

[Cinnamon Evans] - We employ some people from some disadvantaged cohorts. Yes.

[David Laity] - I was interested that perhaps you might be, because I've just started doing that within my social enterprise and I'm trying to work out on a marketing level what is more powerful to the consumer. Is it the fact that you've donated X amount of dollars? Is it the fact that you've re-homed or fed, or is it the fact that you're employing people who might otherwise have difficulty getting employment?

[Cinnamon Evans] - If I can answer that, there's probably two parts to that answer. One of the opportunities that we explored recently in Geelong was to work with G21 and the city of Geelong. They have some very adept targets at the moment around employment given they have some of the most highest unemployment rates in the state or in Australia for that matter. We were looking at opportunities to partner with them where we could employ people in the region. So I think the first part of that is partnering with Councils and areas that have targets that can help you leverage your own impact, but then also obviously look at who are the other organisations that you can tap into to help the people in that community. So yeah, I think it's also about looking at bringing community together, but bringing Council, bringing government together. Who else is motivated to those same targets as you? And how can you work together to bring that clear? Does that make sense?

[Cat Harding] - What I was going to say is it's really about finding the people for whom those targets will motivate them, and knowing that if that's the thing that you're delivering, then who are you looking to target? Because that is going to be the thing that's going to help them get where they're going. And understanding that when you approach a potential client or whoever it is, that's the thing that's going to motivate them because they are measuring it and they know that they are here and they want to be here. And when you walk into that conversation and you say, "I know you're trying to get to here, this is how I can help you get there." That's when your conversation will really start to kick.

 

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