Before one can figure out how to develop a social profit mindset, it would help to know what a social profit even is. Right? Although I did not coin the phrase, it is my preferred term in lieu of nonprofit. The use of “non” in front of something can carry a negative connotation. Non is described in the dictionary as “expressing negation or absence.”
Even though it might not come in the form of cash, there is absolutely some return on investment or profit, back to the community in which social profits do great work to address the societal ills we all face.
Throughout the brief history of this country, too many in positions of authority have actively and intentionally sought to continue to divide us along such lines as race, ethnicity, gender, or even dare I say, political affiliation. Race in fact is a social construct meant specifically to divide us, as well as to perpetuate and justify such national stains of embarrassment such as the enslavement of people for ill-gotten profits, Jim Crow, and the “Trail of Tears.”
That attempt to divide is painfully apparent even more so today, as we see shameless efforts to further suppress a full and accurate account of the American story, as well as the right of all to vote. At the end of the day, no one is immune from the challenges that life throws our way. In my opinion, a social profit mindset speaks to the intrinsic mission that God, no matter your religious or political affiliation, has admonished us all to embrace. Which is that we are on this earth to serve others.
One of my favorite Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes is – “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” If an organization has servant leadership and community engagement as components of its corporate culture, then they are on its way to having a social profit mindset. Ask yourself if you as an individual are on that path.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that making money is your primary motivation. There is certainly nothing wrong with desiring to run a profitable business. After all, it is not money that is the root of all evil, it is the LOVE of money that clouds judgment, and causes us to do things that we would be embarrassed to share with our grandkids one day. If your company is drawing customers and employees from the community that keeps earnings up, doesn’t it stand to reason that you should be giving something back besides simply a base transaction? Being a constant “taker” doesn’t seem to be a sustainable business model. Life is not an athletic competition and should not have to be a zero-sum game.
Most companies that endure and thrive in either the social profit or for-profit sectors, tend to be those that can effectively illustrate their true value proposition to, and passion for, the communities it serves. Additionally, goods and/or services notwithstanding, they can also clearly define what the return on investment (ROI) is for said transaction. Being able to do those things can take a company from being merely transactional, to one that is transcendent and seen as a true community partner.
An organization with a social profit mindset is in it for the long haul. Believe me, most people know the difference. We can fake many things in life. Passion and commitment are not among them. As the saying attributed to President Abraham Lincoln goes, “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” One might therefore argue that being true with yourself and others, and speaking truth to power is part of the social profit mindset.
Lastly, diversity, equity, and inclusion as a tenet of your corporate culture is an existential part of a winning organizational culture and a social profit mindset. Don’t get so caught up in just saying the words, and not deeper into what they really mean. This is not a fight in which any of us can be AWOL. We all have a stake and must be honest with ourselves that it has taken over 400 years of intentionally denying equity and inclusion and discouraging diversity to the point of stealing land and denying basic human rights, to get us to where we are yet today. It will take equal intention, but hopefully not as much time to change things for the betterment of all our kids, our grandkids, and our country. There is certainly the wherewithal to do so. The question of course is the will. Personal. Political. Collective.
No matter if you are a social profit enterprise in business to find solutions to the problems that life throws at us all, or a company just trying to make a buck, you should be engaging in service above self. If you think hard, you will be able to find your WIIFM – What’s in it for me? The first step in the process is to take the first step toward a new way of thinking about life and business. Yes, that does take a little faith!
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
The staircase is in front of you. What are you going to do?