Social Entrepreneur Index nominee: Cause4
Recognising changing market conditions for charities and social enterprises, Michelle Wright created Cause4 to help organisations plan and implement sound strategies for growth. She shares her story with us, from reaching organisational maturity to gaining B-Corp status.
What does your social enterprise do?
Cause4 is a social enterprise and one of the first certified B-Corporations in the UK.
The company was founded on ethical values to support charitable organisations to change and grow, as well as to raise vital funds working across the charity, arts, sports and education sectors.
Our model is based on three founding principles which run through all our work:
income – developing robust and sustainable business plans and effective fundraising and investment strategies to ensure that organisations can grow and evolve
innovation – leading from the front in developing new ideas, implementing new innovations and supporting the change management needed for success
insight – offering a range of learning opportunities through our unique blend of face to face training combined with our e-learning platform Cause4 Advance, all underpinned by the latest data and research
Provoking change is at the heart of our mission. It’s not the size of the project that matters to us but whether it can make an impact.
What made you start your business up?
We started in May 2009 six months after the last recession in 2008. At that point I knew that the world had changed and that charities and social enterprises were going to need to adapt their business models to succeed in a tough climate – that’s where the concept of Cause4 emerged from.
How do you measure your impact?
Cause4 measures its social impact based on the level of income achieved for clients, and supporting organisations to grow so that they can reach more beneficiaries, more effectively.
Our commitment to lifelong learning means that we also track the careers of the graduates we invest in and our staff. Our aim is for Cause4 to support individuals to go on to have brilliant careers in the charitable sector and beyond.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
We have benefited from several accelerator programmes such as the Goldman Sachs 10k SB.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
We kept it simple and started with a company limited by shares to give us flexibility.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
Being able to take on causes with real social impact and to instigate change.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Find a brilliant mentor and prioritize friendships with other entrepreneurs, this is where you learn the most from people that have actually done it!
Why do you think social enterprise is important?
We’re operating in a fast-changing environment where activism, change and challenge are par for the course. Social Enterprise and those people driving social impact are at the heart of this change.
What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?
Reaching our 10th birthday and realising you can reach some sense of organisational maturity!
What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Take advantage of any accelerator funding you can and find a small group of other founders that you can confide in and learn from.
What’s been the most surprising thing about creating a social enterprise?
That social and environmental values haven’t infiltrated the private sector more quickly.
What are your plans for the next two to five years?
To add depth to our three key areas of income, innovation and insight and to deepen the impact of our work and to roll out our e-learning model globally.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?
For people to be kind to each other, and for a complete rebalancing of vile comments on social media.
What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?
Reaching our 10th birthday milestone, raising c. £58m in charitable money, becoming one of the UK’s first B-Corps.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
Value your values – it’s your personal values that drive the most radical social impacts.