I have spent the last three years of my life working in the growing segment of businesses known as triple-bottom-line companies or social ventures. According to the Skoll Foundation (http://www.skollfoundation.org –a foundation based on the principles that strategic investments can lead to lasting social change) a social entrepreneur is: society’s change agent, a pioneer of innovations that benefit humanity.
Although this is a relatively new movement, all around us we see the growing momentum of companies identifying and implementing aspects of social responsibility into their models. This is as much a financial decision as anything else! Dollars spent on social programs can often make more marketing or operational sense than traditional advertising or waste management methods. In these circumstances everybody wins. As society continues to demand more responsibility it continues to pay for companies to develop and demonstrate a competent social strategy.
There is a wealth of knowledge on the subject, best summarized and directed, (In my personal opinion) on Wikipedia.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship and the internal and external links provide a very good summary. Applying these principles in a business certainly does not have to be a gigantic overhaul, or a substantial change in the business model. Sometimes it’s as simple as a personal change in perspective. Implementing these principles into a business model however, can create lasting strategic partnerships and goodwill that provide a legacy and public image much bigger and better than money alone can provide.