Saving and Publishing

news / skill-share 04.09.2017 Words:Caterina Giorgi
Artwork: Lukas Benson

For Purpose Venture p. 1

Starting a for purpose venture

This series of three blog posts explores the things to consider when embarking on a social venture before take-off, after take-off and while airborne.

Part 1: Starting a for purpose venture? Here’s what to consider before take-off 

Before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about what we mean by ‘for purpose venture’. I’m using this term as all-encompassing to describe a business, not-for-profit or social enterprise that has been developed or created with the primary purpose being to create a positive social impact.

Put simply, it’s a venture that exists to make the world a better place. This doesn’t mean that the idea behind the venture has to have a global impact or be huge. It just needs to have social good at its core.

When I’m talking about for purpose venture, I’m also not talking about tax status (whether you’re for profit or not-for-profit) or classifications (whether you’re a social enterprise, charity or social business). I’m focusing on the potential social impact – a venture that benefits the community first and foremost, rather than owners, stakeholders and customers alone.

Start with your purpose

Purpose: ‘the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists’. Yes, this is the Oxford Dictionary definition and the concept is really simple. But we don’t often stop and reflect on purpose. When we are working in a job, we are often consumed by ‘To do’ lists and reporting the tasks that have been completed. When you have an idea for a social venture you need to really think about its intended purpose. Who are the people (or animals) that it is seeking to help/empower/enable/support? What problem is seeking it to address? What is the desired impact? How will that benefit individuals/the community/Australia/the world? It is the people and impact that need to be at the centre of your for purpose venture and this needs to be prioritised ahead of all other things. Understanding this will help you to shape your purpose.

Do your homework

When I was working as a tutor at a University I would always say that if you have an idea, it is likely that someone else has had a similar idea (this was all about ensuring that people appropriately referenced and acknowledged other people’s hard work). This isn’t to say that you’re framing, your concept, your perspective isn’t different. It just highlights that there is much that you can learn from people who have done the hard yards in understanding the issue that you are wanting to work on.

There are a lot of places that you can go to investigate your issue. The Analysis and Policy Observatory (APO) has more than 34,000 resources on any social or environmental issue that you can think of. The Centre for Social Impact has great research reports into a range of issues and impact measurement. Government sources like the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have data on anything and everything population related to help you to understand your people and problem.

Put simply, it’s a venture that exists to make the world a better place. This doesn’t mean that the idea behind the venture has to have a global impact or be huge. It just needs to have social good at its core.

Talk to people currently working in the space

Nothing beats a conversation with someone who is working in the space that you are seeking to work in. These people are working everyday on issues relating to your areas of interest and their brain is better than Google in helping you to understand the issue and the entities currently working in the space.

You can check out the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission website to find a list of charities and NFPs in Australia, you can also check out the members of organisations like the Australian Council or Social Service to look at organisations working on a range of different social issues. 

Work out if you can work with existing entities

Before starting something new, check out if you can work with existing entities. It may be that your idea sits really well within an existing organisation, social enterprise or business. It may be that you find and meet another person who cares deeply about the issue that you are wanting to pursue. It may also mean that you don’t have to worry about start-up costs, constitutions, boards and administrative costs. Remember that for purpose ventures aren’t about ego, they are about the potential social impact so really have a think about whether you can create the desired or even a better impact by working within an existing entity.   

Special thanks to Caterina Giorgi of For Purpose for writing this article. Click here to read part 2.

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