MM Memo 12.02.17

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Each week, we compile and summarize the top articles on corporate social impact, impact investing, and conscious capitalism from around the world, and deliver it to your inbox every Saturday morning for you to enjoy and digest.  

Feel free to shoot us an email with any feedback, insight, tips or suggestions. If you like what you are reading, we would love it if you would share it with your friends.


WHY PAYPAL PAYS IT FORWARD
(AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)


When it comes to corporate social responsibility, small businesses could learn a lot from PayPal. The payment processing giant facilitates charitable giving in several different ways, including its PayPal Giving Fund, which allows nonprofits to process donations without fees or deductions – plus, PayPal adds an extra 1 percent to Giving Fund donations made during the holiday season.

According to Sean Milliken, PayPal's head of global social innovation, promoting social responsibility is simply part of  the company's broader business plan. "People want to do business with companies that are aligned with a cause," Milliken said in an interview with Business News Daily. "Giving back, contributing to society, [and] being a good corporate citizen is not only the right thing to do, it's good for business."


 
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AMERICA INC GETS WOKE

Firms have been sucked into social and political debates before. Anti-apartheid campaigners mounted boycotts against firms that did business with the South African regime, for example. But it is happening more and more often, and the Trump era has made it even harder for executives to stay above the political fray. That is a big shift. In the past companies did their best to remain apolitical. “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits,” wrote Milton Friedman, an economist, in 1970. Lobbyists became increasingly adept at pushing policymakers towards lower taxes and fewer regulations; they said little or nothing about social issues.

No longer. The reactions to Mr Trump are reinforcing a longer-term trend for business to become more outspoken, and such trends are not confined to North America. The controversies of Mr Trump’s presidency aside, there are two big structural reasons for firms’ newfound sense of purpose. First, many bosses feel they have little choice but to respond to their staff, who are increasingly vocal on political and on cultural issues. Second, the main shareholders of companies—institutions such as pension funds and asset managers—are themselves paying more attention to social objectives.


5 WAYS PHILANTHROPY CAN HELP YOUR COMPANY GROW

According to the 2016 PwC Global CEO survey, 64% of CEOs consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) central to their business strategy and essential to growth. Company leaders are incorporating philanthropy into their workplace culture, by stepping forward to advocate for global issues such as child education, climate change, and fair trade. The following are some of the many ways philanthropic initiatives can benefit your business: customer outreach; cost savings; attracting talent; brand marketing; and investors. 


TRADING THIS MARKET COULD MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

Stock markets are often driven by fear and greed. Not this one. For sure, the Social Stock Exchange (SSE) in London is trying to raise funds for companies and make money for investors. But its companies must also fix social problems or improve the environment. "The organizations that pass our vetting process and meet [our] listing requirements are then free to trade," the Social Stock Exchange says.

The SSE has seen rapid growth since it launched with just 12 companies in 2013. Today it has nearly 50, including MagneGas, a cleantech company based in Florida, which joined the exchange earlier this month. Thanks to its partnership with NEX, a U.K. regulated exchange that focuses on electronic trading, the SSE operates like a traditional stock market, allowing investors to buy and sell shares.


IS VENTURE CAPITAL RIGHT FOR SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS STARTUPS?

Recently, a friend and founder of a social venture that increases access to basic services for underserved communities in the US, started gearing up for his Series A fundraising. As a mission-driven company, the advice he got about where to look for funding was split down the middle. Due to his company’s social mission, some investors told him to focus exclusively on raising from impact investment funds.

On the other hand, other investors who’d spent time understanding his business model encouraged him to raise venture capital for the strategic advantages it would unlock, including industry expertise, connections, and commercial credibility. If you are a founder building a company whose core mission is to solve a pressing social or environmental problem, you’ll likely find yourself in a similar position, asking yourself the same questions. So what do you do?


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BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN BUSINESS AND SOCIAL IMPACT.

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