The phrase, “Cause Driven” gets thrown around a lot recently. I’ve heard myself say these exact words: “I finally left the corporate world, the business world, as I want to use my marketing expertise to help organizations who are 'cause driven' and hold the same values I do.”
Well I’m busted!
First that sounds a little righteous, as many corporations and for profit companies exist within the business world that are cause driven. Second, do we even understand what it means to be cause driven? And who decides whether an organization is cause driven?
But first let’s review some key trends around why this matters:
1. According to the 2015 Millennial Impact, Millennials aren’t interested in structures, institutions and organizations, but rather in the people they help and the issues they support.
A 2016 Survey of Millennials, conducted through Mobile Cause, “The New Generation of Giving”, 87% of Millennials donated to charities last year. That is more than any other age group.
In sum, Millennials, now the largest population bubble, say that a major factor in making purchasing decisions and employment choices, is based on whether an organization is “cause driven” and reflects their own values.
2. There is a growing movement among for-profit companies, to file their laws of incorporation as a “Benefit Company”. This legal designation means allowing the company to move beyond the purpose of generating profit to only serve the financial interests of shareholders --- but to also accommodate and allow profits to be used to benefit the “greater good”. Some Benefit Companies may even choose to go through a rigorous third party certification process and become “B-Corps”.
3. Many retiring baby boomers, are choosing to stay active, often as volunteers or start up entrepreneurs, using their talent and energy to participate in efforts to improve the environment and work toward social justice. They often use the phrase, “It’s time to give back.”
In other words within the new world order, an emerging strong contingent believes a shift is occurring:
“The overarching goal is not profit but IMPACT!” Michelle Obama, July, 2016
This is the evolution of organizations and corporations who dedicate themselves to the triple bottom line: People, Profit, Planet. This is a framework that touches social, environmental (or ecological) and financial aspects. Some businesses are even calling it the quadruple bottom line, adding Purpose.
But beware of the phrase and exploiting its marketing value!
It’s popular to claim you are “cause driven”, or that you are a Benefit Company, as this phrase resonates with current customer preferences. So take note... this next step is very important: You must pass the sniff test. We are talking about being authentic. Demonstrating you practice what you preach. The Millennials are adept at ferreting out the truth around an organization and with the transparency of social media you must be honest about your efforts.
There is also going to be more and more auditing and scrutinizing of Benefit Companies. They are required to complete an annual “Benefit Report” outlining how they fulfilled their promise to practice the principles outlined in the tenets they've agreed to follow in becoming a Benefit Company --- and what impact they are making. This report has to be shared publicly! Today very few Benefit Companies have complied with this requirement, as no one has been checking. But those in the know say those days may be ending.
A benefit company like ourselves, HCollaborative was honored to recently help a local Portland LLC, develop its 2016 Benefit Report. This for-profit company is truly making a difference around equity and sustainability and embodies the spirit of being cause driven.
So ask yourself these questions:
1. Is it time for a “manifesto statement” describing the very essence or heart of the company, that goes beyond a vision or mission and demonstrates your "Cause"? (P.S. we can help you with this)
2. Is it time to explore becoming a Benefit Company? If so check with the Secretary of State’s office within your state of residence.
3. Do you practice the principles reflected in the triple bottom line?
a. People – truly investing in your employees
a. Profit – using profits for the better good – making an impact
b. Planet – practicing good stewardship of our planet
4. Are you sincere, authentic, honest and put your money where your mouth is? Words are easy, but actions are what matter.
THE TIME IS NOW… Take the step, and together with other cause driven individuals, businesses and nonprofits, we can make the world a more equitable and just world for ALL.