During the past century, governments and charitable organizations have mounted massive efforts to address social problems such as poverty, lack of education, and disease. But while governments around the world are straining to fund their commitments to solve these problems, many organizations are simply limited by old ways of doing things. Today, this situation is changing. Social impact investing and entrepreneurship models have injected new energy and thinking into this space by offering innovative approaches that move beyond the current models.
At ReD Associates, we partner with companies and organizations that want to use their commercial presence in an area to create social impact and make a difference for people that would otherwise often go underserved. We help organizations re-examine assumptions and build new strategies when faced with changing or uncertain structural conditions. We work with them to build new solutions by developing a clear perspective on the actions that will drive change built on a clear understanding of the social fabric that new solutions will exist within. And we create engagement strategies and action plans to get the solutions and resources into the hands of those who need them most.
By drawing on the disciplined human-centric approach to strategy and solution development, which has long been a best practice for developing the commercial agenda of the world’s most advanced companies, we strive to help companies and organizations alike accelerate social change. We apply some of the same tools and techniques that we know from pure commercial endeavors in order to develop the best scalable solutions that can change people’s lives and, in doing so, help our private sector clients become meaningful partners with local players and governments. It’s our experience that these approaches utilize the best of both worlds - making social problems more tangible and solutions more sustainable and scalable.
Our work focuses on three main areas:
- Social Impact Strategy
- New Solution Development
- Engagement Strategy
1. Social Impact Strategy
As many companies see value in having CSR-initiatives to help realize core parts of their mission, CEOs are increasingly demanding more impact and relevance from their CSR projects. Clients come to us with the ambition of doing CSR in a way that makes sense for both the company’s vision and the lives of people they are trying to reach. This requires a new approach to the existing business models, as well as a larger upfront investment in understanding, not just the true needs of the targeted areas or demographics, but also where it would be meaningful for the company to play a role. ReD has assisted clients in developing new business cases and modeling, providing them with the understanding as well as the tools needed to implement CSR initiatives with genuine impact.
2. New Solution Development
A common challenge with addressing many social issues is creating solutions that are properly embedded in the social fabric of the targeted communities. All too often, solutions that worked well in one area, fail when scaled elsewhere because they do not take into account local differences or tap into local networks, resources and power structures. In creating sustainable solutions, Local and Global NGOs, and other organizations working in the targeted areas are often indispensable partners to corporations with a social agenda. They have the local knowledge and access needed to drive successful implementation. When we work with with companies to develop new impactful solutions, we therefore often build strong partnerships with NGOs or other 3rd parties to get the best of both worlds; combining the resources and goal oriented nature of corporate entities with the execution capabilities and insights of local operators. The outcome tends to be solutions that are at once economically sustainable, easily measurable, and deeply impactful on the ground.
3. Engagement Strategy
When delivering a solution that addresses a social issue, carrying out traditional marketing activities - such as outreach and communication plans - are important but rarely are they enough. By working on social impact initiatives and solutions, companies and organizations become local players. This not only requires a deep understanding of the target community but also a more holistic take on engagement – one that combines the art of telling and selling with the art of building and maintaining relationships with community members who are critical partners. This is how to get people engaged in a cause and connect to them in such a way that they will choose your product, again and again. Through our engagement work, ReD has helped companies navigate and thrive in this space by developing strategies that identify key community partners, provide guidance on how to engage them, and the marketing activities needed to ensure success. Depending on the client needs, ReD has participated in all levels of execution - as research partners and strategic advisors, co-creating and sharing methods and plans with local and regional partners, developing and facilitating workshops, and developing print and online materials.