Putting People before Profit

Daily Sparkle founder Chris Harding writes: We have recently been awarded social enterprise status, a fact which makes me incredibly proud.

Ever since we started the business, the goal has been to be a business that gives something back. And I know we achieve this every day, so for us the social enterprise label was a really natural fit. There’s been no sense of box ticking or meeting specific criteria, we just are a social enterprise. It exists in the heart of our business.

While the charity route was an option, we felt the possibilities and scope created by running a business were better, and we liked the challenge of being business-minded, while remaining ethically-sound at the same time.

At its core, we develop commercial strategies for human well-being. I love this concept. Yes, the business came first, but the social enterprise came quickly after.  And now it’s actually the reverse. Someone recently asked me: “If you’re considering new projects, new resources, new products – it’s clear you think about how they will help people first. But when do you start to think about money?”

The answer is – eventually! But first, and always first, we think about what more we could offer, what more we could be doing, how we could be better, and – crucially – how it can help people living with and caring for those with dementia.

“A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact rather than profits for external shareholders.”

Take the cost of the monthly subscriptions of The Daily Sparkle, which has been the same for seven years. Initially, for that price you got the daily newspaper emailed to you each week. But that was all. Since then, for no extra cost, we have added printed versions, magazines, training resources, CDs, music, quizzes, resource packs, carers’ notes, extra services and special birthday and personalised editions…but the price has stayed the same.

We’ve added these things because we’ve been able to. There’s been money in the kitty for it, so we’ve added it as part of our offering. We have never thought, let’s add this resource and make more money, what can we charge?

So we’ve added value without raising our prices. This is obviously the kind of thing that rewards loyalty, but it works well as a business model too – by adding more, for free, we keep our current customers happy and we make the Sparkles an attractive proposition to new customers.

The bottom line – or rather our bottom line – is that if we charge for something, it will be to cover costs – not to make a tidy sum. We want to look after people, make their lives better and make them happy – the way we finance it is what comes second. Always.

You can read more about work as a social enterprise here, and find out more about what The Daily Sparkle can do for your care home here