If you’re Australian and partial to all things sustainability you have probably seen the latest crowdfunding effort from Thankyou. In a nutshell, co-founder and managing director Daniel Flynn has penned a book called Chapter One and it has been released under a ‘pay what you want’ price model, with 100% of the profits to be invested into scaling the business. Thankyou hopes to raise over AU$1.2 million to expand the social enterprise into New Zealand as well as take on the traditional nappy giants and expand into the baby care product market. As always, all profits will go to funding life changing projects for those in need.
Having noticed the huge surge of support Thankyou has received from its customers and the community at large, I thought I would share 3 of my key takeaways from this successful social enterprise and its go-get’em crowdfunding initiative (which is still live so be sure to click here and pick up your copy of Chapter One now!).
1. People support businesses that give back
The momentum this crowdfunding campaign has been able to achieve, as well as the success of the Thankyou brand to date, is proof that people want to affect positive change and are increasingly expecting more from the businesses they buy from to help them do so. Are people wildly sharing their love for other bottled water brands or handwash products? No. The reason they pour enthusiasm into the Thankyou product offering is because Thankyou stands for something – it has a purpose. There’s a variety of research to back this notion up, which ultimately begs the question: why don’t MORE companies include a stronger social-cause element in their overall offering? Regardless of what the answer to this is, it’s clear that the companies who do are being rewarded in the form of customer support and loyalty – Thankyou being no exception.
Researchers have delved into the realm of ‘pro-social behaviour’ which refers to the actions of individuals who engage in activities intended to benefit others. This concept does not take into account motivations behind the behaviour, but rather focuses only on the result. A survey conducted in America by the Centre for Giving found that just over 80% of survey respondents, who were also all millennials, volunteer (either weekly, monthly or once or twice a year). This is just one example of how young people possess a strong desire to affect positive change. The same survey also found that 61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference. When these findings are considered alongside a plethora of similar research (such as Deloitte’s annual Millennial Survey 2016 finding that 9 out of every 10 millennials believe business should be measure in terms that extend beyond just financial performance), the message is loud and clear: if your product and/or service can fulfil a need as well as provide a social benefit to others, you will stand out from the crowd.
2. People love a fearless leader – a rebel with a cause
In 2008, alongside co-founders Justine Flynn and Jarryd Burns, Daniel Flynn created Thankyou, which has to date generated AU$3.7 million to bring clean water, sanitation, food programs as well as hope to those in need. The fact that Chapter One has been penned by Flynn, and sold thousands of copies, shows people are not only interested in supporting Thankyou but are also interested in hearing more about his story. Flynn’s proactive approach to PR, willingness to be interviewed as well as his complete embodiment of the possibilities Thankyou has as core to its brand, is no doubt a key factor to the enterprise’s overall success to date. When people encounter a business that embodies such a strong purpose, they are naturally going to be curious about the founders – which is half the reason people pay to see John Mackey (co-CEO and founder of Wholefoods), Leila Janah and Adam Braun speak on a world stage about how we can all use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. So if you’re thinking of starting a social enterprise, you need to walk your walk. People will want to know more and this is a huge opportunity for you to cement their loyalty even further!
3. Social enterprises create fans, not just customers
When the purpose of your business equates to more than just making a profit, you will win yourself a host of loyal, supportive fans. Can you imagine a one of the big supermarkets starting a crowdfunding campaign, similar to this, and everyone rallying behind them to support their expansion overseas or into new markets? No, neither can I. The difference here is clearly Thankyou’s social element. Back at the very beginning when they were simply offering bottled water it was their social enterprise factor that set them apart and it continues to be their differentiator today. This is the core reason behind why everyday people are sharing the Chapter One campaign on their personal social media channels, leaving thousands of comments and most importantly, donating thousands of dollars. The proof is in the social-pudding, if your business exists to genuinely help others, your fans will find you and support you along your journey.
So, what are your thoughts on social enterprises? Love them? Share below! Also, be sure to click here and pick up your copy of Chapter One now and let’s help this Australian not-for-profit do what they do best on a larger scale!