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The Business of Good: News for Socially Minded Entrepreneurs


Socially responsible business practices, including organic, fair trade, giving back and going green, are becoming the norm for for-profit, as well as nonprofit, businesses. We’re committed to covering this side of small business with our weekly wrap-up of news affecting businesses that have embraced this socially responsible model, combining a for-profit business with nonprofit sensibilities.

A little help, please

Socially responsible businesses in New York City looking for a creative spark as they put together their next big communications campaign can turn to some of tomorrow’s industry leaders for help. BusinessNewsDaily reports that New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies is accepting applications for its Annual Public Relations Strategy and Execution Summer Intensive , where students and experienced professors craft free PR campaigns for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Best of both worlds

Interest in socially responsible businesses among today’s youth continues to rise. NextBillion.net writer Shanika Gunaratna blogged last week about her experience at a recent panel she attended, "The Best of Both Worlds: Merging For-Profit and Non-Profit Models," at the Global Engagement Summit at Northwestern University. The panel’s members, she said, believe the future of innovation lies in socially responsible businesses that can figure out effective ways to merge the best of both ends of the spectrum.

Reaching customers

When targeting customers with social media, it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. BusinessNewsDaily reports this week that a study concludes wealthy customers follow brands online not to be tantalized with coupons, but because of a pre-existing affinity for the company or a desire to be kept informed. A separate study shows Gen-Y members are typically advertising-averse and prefer more sincere and authentic forms of connecting online.

Does a business good

Running a socially conscious business does a lot more than make you feel it good.  According to an article out last week by Property Casualty 360, a national underwriter website, it improves employee morale and teamwork, attracts the best recruits, creates additional networking opportunities and improves community relations. The authors provide a five-step process to adding a socially responsible aspect to your business.

Benefits of fair trade

One way of attracting consumers with a conscience is through the use of fair trade practices. BusinessNewsDaily reports this week on the strict process businesses must go through to earn a fair trade certification, as well as the benefits that come along with it. Reporter Joseph Shure also profiles a few businesses that are using fair trade to help distinguish them in the marketplace.

Vermont leading the way

Socially responsible businesses are spurring on the economy in at least one state, according to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.  Dan D’Ambrosio of the Burlington Free Press reports that during last week’s spring conference of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Shumlin said the state’s emphasis on social responsibility is creating a climate that is making Vermont a bastion of economic opportunities.

New center of sustainability

There’s a new resource for companies aiming to place sustainable business practices at the core of their operations. A renamed and expanded Center for Sustainability was re-launched last week by The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association. The new center is designed to help strengthen and accelerate the transformation of companies into sustainable business enterprises.

We hear about a lot of socially responsible businesses each week.  Here are this week’s favorites:

Anti-AgingGames: The first online site offering scientifically based brain fitness games for mentally healthy people over age 35. The company donates 20 percent of its pretax profits to organizations involved in Alzheimer’s prevention research.
On Twitter @AntiAgingGames

The Road Less Traveled: Offers adventure trips for teens and young adults to locations around the world. Programs feature a service-focused component in which kids have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and broaden their horizons while making a societal contribution. Over the past two decades, The Road Less Traveled staff and participants have contributed over 400,000 hours of service to communities around the world.
On Twitter @therlt

Global Girlfriend: Specializes in fairly traded apparel and accessories handmade by women and communities in need. Between 5 and 30 percent of each purchase is used to fund micro-grants for women in Africa to launch small businesses.
On Twitter @Staceedgar

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.