The Socially Good Spirit of Christmas
4 November 2015 at 11:33 am
From community kitchens addressing food waste to coffees that help the homeless, the profits from the Christmas season could help achieve social outcomes, writes Ellie Cooper in this week’s Spotlight on Social Enterprise.
“It’s about raising the profile and sales for the burgeoning social enterprise scene in Melbourne, but it has very clear extensions that could go way beyond Melbourne,” Moss said.
“It could be anywhere in Australia, in fact anywhere in the world. The idea is totally applicable to any city where there are social enterprises, which now is rapidly happening.
“We want to target people’s thinking around going to a social enterprise for their Christmas drink or lunch or coffee… instead of going to their usual suspects.”
Moss hopes the Good Xmas Trail will be successful because people are already planning to go out over the festive season, and it’s just a matter of influencing their choice of venue.
“We can make people aware of the social enterprises that are out there and we can tap into behaviour that currently exists which is, ‘it’s December, we do something special at work for Christmas, we celebrate the break, we celebrate the end of the year’,” he said.
“That behaviour already exists, let’s just reframe people’s awareness and attention to making a difference with their money at the same time.
“There’s a rise of this sort of social enterprise happening over the last few years, and it was actually when I saw Dan Pool’s Crepes for Change van in the paper a while ago I thought ‘there are so many of these coming up now – do people know about them? are they getting enough exposure?’
“And they seem to be getting exposure on a one-by-one basis. I know Social Traders and Good Spender make a big push for the gifts you can buy or the online stuff you can buy, but what about going to these places?”
The Good Xmas Trail is a pro bono project of Good Business Matters, a for-purpose enterprise working towards B-Corp status that develops communication strategies for socially responsible businesses, with the help of Mossman Media.
In future years Moss said they will look at corporate partnerships to increase the project’s reach, but in the pilot year his focus is getting social enterprises on board. So far 15 enterprises have signed up, including Crepes for Change, Streat, Lentil as Anything and Shebeen.
Moss recently met with Social Traders and Good Spender and both organisations have offered to promote the initiative.
“We haven’t got a lot of money to throw behind marketing communication, if we had a corporate on board, which might be something which happens in future years, we might have some money to do some wider marketing,” he said.
“This thing will live or die based on the traction it gets with social enterprises. If there’s a lot of choice there for consumers, officer workers, people who go to the site and see all of the social enterprises on there, I feel it will be more likely to succeed. We don’t want to make it restrictive by saying there’s a cost to get involved.
“And the first ten or so social enterprises who are on there were delighted to hear from us and thought it was a fabulous idea.”
Social enterprises that register online will have their logo appear in the list of social enterprises involved as well as their own page on the site with details about what the business offers and its social impact.
Moss said once 40 or 50 social enterprises have registered, and “they’re all telling the same story”, the Good Xmas Trail will have significant reach.
“They're not saying, ‘we are Crepes for Change just come to Crepes for Change in December’, they’re saying, ‘go to the Good Xmas Trail platform and you can choose from any social enterprise’,” he said.
“It might seem counter-intuitive for a crepe van to say go to to the Good Xmas Trail website and find out about all the social enterprises that you can visit [but] what binds these social enterprises is the same core value, ‘you come to us and you enjoy what it is we have to provide but you do good at the same time’.
“So that ‘doing good’ value binds everyone together. That then makes it a lot easier for all those social enterprises to conceive of and make an effort to market the idea of the Good Xmas Trail themselves.”
In November, Moss said his focus would be on marketing and developing the next phase of the site, currently in beta mode, which will enable users to create a map of social enterprises they plan to visit.
Come December he would like to calculate the social impact the Good Xmas Trail has had via increased business for the social enterprises involved.
“If we can do that we can measure the social impact and that’s going to be a really important, but we haven’t resolved the mechanism for that yet… they will have a voucher, or you sign them off that they’ve come in from the Good Xmas Trail,” he said.
“It is important to be able to say in January or February next year, ‘we raised an extra $5000 or $50,000. Wow, wouldn’t that be amazing. It would be a great start.”
Moss’ long-term vision is for December to be the month of social enterprises and see the project grow in a similar way to initiatives like Movember.
“It’s where they started, they got half a dozen people to grow moustaches. I recall having a meeting with Adam Garone, the CEO of Movember, and he was doing what I am doing, talking to people and asking them to raise awareness,” he said.
“And now they’ve raised millions and millions of dollars. I’d love to be able to do something like that, to say, ‘every December, social enterprises you’re in the spotlight’.”