‘Coalition of Mischief’ Targets NFPs
20 February 2013 at 11:23 am
It’s said that some Not for Profits need a push to help them reach their potential in the digital age to reach greater audiences online through digital marketing and to maximise donations. One social enterprise start-up is helping make this a reality.
Based on a ‘profit for purpose’ business model, two young entrepreneurs, Kevin Bathman and Zara Choy decided that they had had enough of “selling their souls” to the corporate world and decided to start a social enterprise.
Coalition of Mischief works to offer communication strategies to Not for Profits who are making positive social impacts in their field of work. But the road has not been easy.
The pair’s initial struggles were with their start-up company’s identity and choice of name.
“Our main challenge was being small and people not having heard of us. It’s typical of all small enterprises until they build up a reputation,” Choy said.
“We’re starting to be more well-known and growing a reputation.”
“For some NFPs the fact that we have chosen a cheeky name detracts them. Some people have a more traditional way of doing business.”
Bathman agrees that it can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
“It attracts those who want to do things differently but can be a deterrent to more traditional orgs who think it’s too much,” he says
“If its not in line with their organisation, then that’s fine.”
Another issue was the mentality of some more traditional Not for Profits who didn’t see the value in marketing or branding and did not assign any budget towards the area.
“The NFP sector perceives marketing a bit different. Many don’t recognise the need,” says Bathman.
“It’s a mindset that still needs to shift. Some NFPs question their return on investment.”
Creation of the Coalition
Bathman describes himself as a “flexitarian, social change advocate, urban gardener, sustainability nut, upcycling hobbyist and street art appreciator”.
Choy comes from an information technology background.
With 15 years of advertising and IT experience in various organisations, the duo’s passion is using creativity to address social justice and environmental issues.
Bathman teamed up with like-minded social change advocate Choy by replying to a Tweet she sent out using the #samehuman hashtag.
From there they formed the design agency based on a social business model designed to help Not for Profits by working with them on their online presence and digital strategy.
“Primarily we are an ad agency design firm providing communications for Not for Profits,” explains Bathman.
“We want to offer things that are a bit different.”
Bathman and Choy both say that new ways of sharing information and spreading messages is important for NFPs to adopt to maximise their reach on audiences.
The pair are trying to bring storytelling techniques to NFPs to allow them to better communicate with their donors and stakeholders, bringing to life stories of donors, beneficiaries and the impact that organisations are having on the sector.
“NFPs deal with difficult subjects that you can’t fit into a three minute add and expect people to donate,” Choy says.
“NFPs are not exploring other creative ways of doing campaigns. They’re stuck in ways 20 years old.”
The pair agree that there is ambiguity in the sector on the definition that defines a ‘social enterprise’ or a ‘social business’.
What is a ‘social enterprise’?
“There’s a discrepancy in calling us a ‘social enterprise’. In theory we are as our work directly benefits communities and society,” explains Bathman.
“Some organisations (like Social Traders) have a different definition. A large percentage of profit has to be given back to the organisation.
“We would like to do this but at the moment we are still a ‘start-up’. We’re still getting things up and running.”
Instead of “running around discussing definitions” the pair say they are more focussed on engaging with their clients to help the community.
“Our primary motif is not profit. It’s not our primary criteria. We are profit for purpose,” says Choy.
“It’s a new way of doing business.”
Life after corporate engagement
Bathman considers his greatest achievement to be proving to sceptics and disbelievers that there is life after a corporate job for people who are more interested in creating social change and benefitting the community.
“Knowing that my skills are contributing toward the greater good and that our work helps disadvantaged communities and sustainable initiatives is my favourite part,” he says.
“Many people are stuck with an uninspiring job and think that there are no other avenues for them. I was in the same boat just a couple of years ago.
“But just researching and learning new ways of making a living, with a positive impact on humanity and the environment, I have realised it is quite possible.”