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Growth Hacking for Good: The Parallel Between Startups and Charities

Janice Chaka

Charities and startups are possibly the worst business models in the world, so they've got a lot more in common than you think.

A charity doesn't provide much value to anyone donating, unless you count the warm fuzzy feeling they get in the pit of their stomach. Startups fare no better, and they're usually understaffed, underfunded, with a user base large companies would laugh at.

According to statistics, the third major cause of a startup failing is wasted advertising budget. It's one of the saddest stats in the business, because both charities and startups also happen to be the two business models most likely to improve the planet in one way or another.

They have different goals, but each of them want to create the biggest impact possible. However, according to BizShifts-Trends charities and a company's well-being are inextricably linked.

From 1972 to 2012, a correlation between increased donations to non-profit/charity groups increases the overall revenue of a company: 

Growing business through charity

Image via BizShifts-Trends

Startups and charities need to start thinking about how they can work together. Both sides could benefit from taking advantage of each other in an ethical way, so we're going to look at a few different ways they can partner up to fast track their way to success.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Promote Your Business With Charitable Marketing

The Appeal Of Socially Conscious Companies

Every time you buy a pair of shoes from Toms, they'll turn around and donate a pair to someone in the world who is desperate for something to put on their feet. Warby Parker donates money to charity when you buy a pair of glasses, and the money is used to help underprivileged people see properly.

Both companies have skyrocketed to success due to the fact society loves socially conscious companies. Millennials are a perfect example to use, because they've grown up watching clips of people suffering all their lives. 

Millennials are now at an age where they've started to climb up the professional ladder, and they're at a point in their lives where they have enough disposable income to treat themselves. Startups should realize that Millennials are more inclined to help socially conscious companies with a goal to change the world.

If a startup is looking to attract a worldwide audience, they shouldn't forget to pay close attention to charities in the part of the world they're targeting. Although we're kind enough to enjoy helping everyone, it's still great knowing you're helping those around you who are less fortunate.

The Power Of Growth Hacking

Startups don't sit around for years waiting for customers or users to fall into their laps. Growth hacking might have become something of a buzzword over the years, but there is no denying startups are built to grow as quickly as possible.

By taking advantage of viral marketing techniques, startups are more likely to build up a huge user base, receive a massive amount of funding to grow even quicker, monetize their audience to make a substantial amount of money, and potentially sell the company for billions of dollars.

No matter how hard a charity tries, they'll never achieve the same growth. That doesn't mean they won't be able to grow with their startup if the work together, so as you can see so far it's very easy for them to help each other.

Related Article: Corporate Social Conscience: Doing Good While Doing Business

Keeping Costs Low The Technological Way

Charities obviously need to keep their costs low, otherwise they wouldn't have much money for those in need. Ask startups how they keep costs at a minimum and the first thing they'll talk about is virtual staff.

Virtual staff

Image via flickr

Thanks to the technology we have access to today, contract staff and volunteers could easily work from their computer. This would drastically reduce real world costs like office space, but it would also mean people wouldn't be restricted to a tiny portion of the country when raising money.

There are an unlimited number of ways to raise money online, and there are also a huge number of ways to train people for free so they have the skills to raise money using nontraditional methods. If something does cost money, such as software, you could maybe strike a beneficial deal with the company like we talked about before.

The Lean StartUp Model For Charities

I know charities aren't as fluid as young startups, but they can still use some of the lean principles to raise more money. The only reason they're not doing so already is because they're caught up in the traditional way of doing things.

Why can't they test a way to make money as quickly as possible, before quickly pivoting to another model when it doesn't work out. They'll be able to test a lot more things, and they can drill down on the areas where they see the most success. Launchrock and Kickstarter are both great ways to see if there is a need for something before putting too much money into it.

They need to stop running marketing campaigns they've spent months coming up with. In most cases, they'll underperform, which means less money raised for the needy. A startup's ability to pivot is the real reason they hold all the power today.

Mentoring Opportunities Are Worth Considering

The main goal of a charity is to raise as much money as possible, and they've all been doing an excellent job since before we were born. Although the main goal of a startup is usually growth, they need to raise money and the right charity can share their secrets.

The opposite is true too, and even without piggybacking on the growth of a startup, a charity can still learn all about growth. Especially the new ways to exploit technology to grow as quickly as possible.

Everyone would be wise to attempt finding mentors they can learn from. A charity and startup definitely have vital skills they can share with each other, which means quicker growth and more money for everyone. 

You can find charities who are looking or help on VolunteerMatch.org or you can just look up local charities and contact them. Some charities only deal with certain countries like BPeace.org. So make sure you do your research first.

Take Advantage Of Each Other Now

Startups are great at taking advantage of social media, and with people hearing about charities through social media up to 47% of the time, it makes sense to learn from each other:

In 2013 advertising and marketing of charities

Image via NPTech for good

I hope you now realize that charities and startups are alike in many ways, even if they do ultimately have different goals. Each one still wants to change the world as soon as they possibly can.

You could see which charities are running events in your area and offer to help/sponsor which will help to get your name out there. Give them a shout out on social media!

Everyone might be able to pull it off on their own, but why do things the hard way when you can help each other? Charities and startups need to start paying more attention to each other, but who will take advantage of this fantastic opportunity first?

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Janice Chaka
business.com Member
Janice Chaka has over 10 years of international HR experience and is the founder of HR consulting company JC Global Services. As a part-time digital nomad, she is a great fan of promoting virtual working and paperless offices. Author of Events for Introverts: The how-to-guide to networking