Australia-based Thankyou Group, a self-proclaimed social enterprise, launched new television ads to showcase their products and attempt to educate Australians on the meaning of social enterprise.
“We felt it was important to take a different approach with this ad. We wanted it to be more than just about Thankyou and our products; we also wanted to help educate the public on what social enterprise is,” said Justine Flynn, Director of Brand and People, in a news statement today.
The ad begins by describing poverty as a massive issue. Even though the public is aware of this, they often don’t know how to help. Thankyou Group sells consumer products to fund “life-changing projects”.
But wait a minute. Doesn’t this sound like a message from Procter & Gamble’s CSR department?
The one common question that gets asked by someone trying to understand social enterprise is, “What’s the difference between CSR and social enterprise?”
Although both share a common goal of societal good, the impact CSR creates is more of an afterthought – for example, donations to the community – and is communicated through yearly reports, whereas the impact social enterprise creates is part of everyday operations – for example, a product that prevents bed sores.
However, looking at Thankyou Group as an example, it would seem that social enterprise is just another name for CSR. The company sells bottled water, cereals, hand wash, and lotion products to fund “aid projects in developing countries” such as food programs and water wells.
This reminds us of a problem Ned Breslin, CEO of the nonprofit organization Water for People, noticed with the construction of water wells in areas without access to water. He says that up to 60 percent of water infrastructures break down because organizations would install them and then leave, causing communities to go back to rivers and streams.
Thankyou Group adds that with the commercials, their “aim was to provide an explanation of the difference between for-profit, nonprofit and social enterprise through our creative approach, in order to educate consumers on how a simple product choice can have a huge impact.”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is to understand the sort of impact hoped to achieve, because social enterprise, nonprofit, and CSR approaches can yield different results.
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