Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4
Michelle Wright (CEO) talks to BQ about how Cause4 - the social enterprise supporting charities - came to be, how they measure impact and their plans for the future.
What does your social enterprise do?
Cause4 is a social enterprise and one of the first certified B-Corporations in the UK.
The company was founded on ethical values to support charitable organisations to change and grow, as well as to raise vital funds working across the charity, arts, sports and education sectors.
Our model is based on three founding principles which run through all our work:
Income – developing robust and sustainable business plans and effective fundraising and investment strategies to ensure that organisations can grow and evolve.
Innovation – leading from the front in developing new ideas, implementing new innovations and supporting the change management needed for success.
Insight – offering a range of learning opportunities through our unique blend of face to face training combined with our e-learning platform Cause4 Advance, all underpinned by the latest data and research.
Provoking change is at the heart of our mission, it’s not the size of a project that matters to us but whether it can make an impact.
What made you start your business up?
We started in May 2009 six months after the last recession in 2008. At that point I knew that the world had changed and that charities and social enterprises were going to need to adapt their business models to succeed in a tough climate – that’s where the concept of Cause4 emerged from.
How do you measure your impact?
Cause4 measures its social impact based on the level of income achieved for clients, and supporting organisations to grow so that they can reach more beneficiaries, more effectively.
Our commitment to lifelong learning means that we also track the careers of the graduates we invest in and our staff. Our aim is for Cause4 to support individuals to go on to have brilliant careers in the charitable sector and beyond.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
We have benefitted from several Accelerator programmes such as the Goldman Sachs 10k SB.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
We kept it simple and started with a company limited by shares to give us flexibility.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
Being able to take on causes with real social impact.
What has been your biggest challenge when setting up and running your social enterprise?
For the first few years I felt on the verge of burn out, it can be tough running a scaling business.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Find some good mentors and hold onto them! Talking to other founders is essential.
What information sources would you recommend to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Take advantage of any accelerator funding you can and find a small group of other founders that you can confide in and learn from.
What are your plans for the next 2-5 years?
To add depth to our three key areas of income, innovation and insight and to deepen the impact of our work.
The UK Social Entrepreneur Index, sponsored by UBS, is a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.
Open to social entrepreneurs tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale, entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact.
For more info visit www.socialentsindex.co.uk.
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