With the economy still in recession and the world's financial institutions sitting firmly in the global doghouse, companies that have a social conscience are taking the moral and economic high ground. Yes, social enterprise is the new buzz word in business, and refreshingly so.
Indeed, four British entrepreneurs have come up with what they claim is the 'ultimate' social enterprise.
'All 4 Charities' (http://www.all4charities.co.uk) is an online shopping portal which promises to donate 100% of the commission it receives from its affiliate retailers to charity.
So how does it work? In the simplest terms, one company pays another a commission for bringing them customers. Website affiliation of this kind has been around since 1994, driving traffic from one site to another and increasing profit margins for both parties. Affiliation itself is big business, with the most successful sites generating hundreds of thousands in profit.
Customers who shop via the www.all4charities.co.uk online portal, can buy items from their favourite retailers then donate the commission that All4charities receives for the transaction to the charity of their choice. It costs the customer no more to buy through this website than any other, including buying from major high street retailers, and there is no membership fee. There are over 200 retailers to choose from including, M&S, Amazon, Tesco, HMV, Asda, and Play.com.
This is obviously great news for charities too, and provides an opportunity to make a real difference. Online trade is approximately 25 billion pounds in the UK alone, and Verdict Research predicts that this figure is likely to reach 45 billion by 2012. Much of this is believed to be affiliate linked. So by encouraging individuals to shop through the All4charities portal, charities could benefit from sizeable chunks of cash.
Existing dedicated charitable funding shopping sites take between 25% and 75% of the commission derived from every online sale.
The founding members of All4Charities are so passionate about the project that even additional income derived from deposit interest (100%) and advertising revenue (75%) is also donated to charity, allowing the difference of 25% to cover their operational costs. Therefore charities will not only get 100% of online commission income but more besides.
The idea has also been a hit with charities themselves and All4charities and Good Causes Ltd was approved for registration by the charities commission. To ensure all is above board there is an independent financial committee to oversee the commission payments.
In times of financial crisis, we all tighten our belts, and charitable donations are often the first to go. But now, thanks to All4Charities, we can all go shopping online with a clear conscience, knowing that by buying the latest must-have item, we are, in fact, helping those most in need.