Working in a Social Startup can be challenging in many ways. People outside the organization tend to ask a similar set of questions: What is your business model? How do you create revenues? How can that be put in a sustainable approach? This blog post wants to give a few answers to these questions and give a surprising solution on how social startups can be successful in the long run.
In the system we are living in right now, one has to sell something another person or organization wants to buy. That approach leaves out a large number of initiatives with great ideas and the potential to create a better society. We are currently experiencing a situation where authorities are struggling to manage the large influx of new residents from all over the world. Initiatives spring into action everywhere, trying to ease integration for newcomers. Especially in a city like Berlin that is vibrant, has a large tech community and high cultural diversity, initiatives have all the prerequisites to become successful. For me personally, Berlin is the capital of opportunities. Still, doing good and creating revenues and thereby having a sustainable impact do not always go hand in hand for a small organization. So how do we solve this issue?
I got very encouraged and inspired at the Launch of bunt und verbindlich – a platform for integration, where businesses and social startups can meet and exchange needs and resources. The idea “I will do X, when someone helps me with Y” is just what we need. It can even be something simple, as an enterprise donating computers to an organization like Kiron who provide refugees worldwide the opportunity to graduate with an accredited university degree, which can be the key for a refugee to get off to a good start in society. As a social startup one cannot solve all challenges oneself, but by working together new solutions can emerge. Startups can learn from established businesses in areas such as organization and finance, while corporations profit from new ideas and CSR opportunities. The support businesses can offer to social startups, thus, foster and develop our approach to integration tremendously. Together we can do much more – the potential is huge.
This is exactly our approach at GoVolunteer. GoVolunteer is an active, country-wide community which connects organisations and volunteers, having the vision that it is supposed to be easy and simple to help where it is needed. On our social matching platform, organizers post their integration projects, volunteers sign up with just 1 click and companies easily find impactful projects to support. We want to motivate millions of people to get active, because we believe that true integration is only possible if newcomers and locals meet and get to know each other. By growing a new volunteering culture across society with all ethnicities, we aim to make integration a reality for everyone.
So far, GoVolunteer already supports over 1000 great integration projects all across Germany and new volunteers sign up every week. Social startups like GoVolunteer bring together passionate, creative and engaged people. With the support of businesses we can have an even greater impact. I am so excited to be a part of all this when mindsets are changing; people are realizing the strength in cooperating instead of competing. I hope that working together can become the new status quo in the future. And these are also my answers to the questions at the beginning of this blog post: Social startups can develop sustainable business models and create revenues by engaging in collaborations with established corporations willing to contribute their resources and knowledge, thereby often facilitating the first step towards a professional organization. Platforms such as bunt und verbindlich foster the cooperation between the two types of actors and play an important role in bringing those actors together. These partnerships allow social organizations to grow and develop as well as to have long-term sustainable impact on the society. That is why I am looking forward to see what we can accomplish together with bunt und verbindlich.
About the author: Kristina Pihlblad is Head of Community Management at GoVolunteer. She is born and raised in Swedish Lund, has a background in Sustainable Development and volunteered several times in South America. She moved to Berlin in Summer 2015.