by Sue Tobias – Jul 31 2015
Me to We – An innovative Social Enterprise
Over the past four years, Mission Measurement has conducted four studies on the work of Free The Children and Me to We. In addition to these studies on social impact, our organization has independently assessed the following questions:
- Is Me to We a viable social enterprise?
- Is it well run? Innovative? Sustainable?
- Does it offer a meaningful and differentiated value proposition for Free The Children?
Here are my findings:
Me to We is intentionally designed to be a financial support mechanism for the organization Free The Children (FTC). This commitment is both transparent and internally consistent with the way in which the programs and services are aligned.
Me to We has also created a new class and generation of consumer that is powerful and very influential. Their purchases in the West create transformational change in the lives of individuals and their families overseas. As a social enterprise, Me to We enables consumers to solve many problems that government and nonprofits cannot.
Me to We donates 50% of its net profits to its charitable partner, Free The Children. This funding supports the long-term, charitable goals of FTC. The remaining half of Me to We’s profits are invested back into the social enterprise to secure its sustainability and growth.
This specific model has drawn recognition, validation and support from renowned social entrepreneurs such as Jeff Skoll, founder of the Skoll World Forum and Participant Media, and Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group. Both men have served as mentors to the Me to We leadership team.
The studies done by Mission Measurement have shown the significant impact of Me to We and Free the Children, more broadly. One of the most powerful outcomes that we have seen is that engagement with the brand and the organization have raised youth’s awareness of socially conscious consumption and made them more critical consumers. Our research shows that young people involved in Me to We and FTC are 40% more likely to reward companies that commit to solving social problems than youth who are not involved with the organizations; 50% of these youth identify as socially conscious consumers.
What I have found most compelling is how Me to We has created innovative for-profit initiatives that actually extend the social impact of Free The Children’s international development model.
For example, The Me to We Artisans line of products help support alternative sources of income for women in developing communities. The Track Your Impact code on Me to We licensed and handmade products sold in North America and Europe let’s you track in which developing community your life-changing gift was delivered. Me to We takes the charitable model and makes it more sustainable. Non-profits can’t live off the leftovers of the economy. A leading social enterprise, such as Me to We, has shown how you can inject a stream of commerce into a charity.
Based on experience with, and study of, Me to We and its leadership, I believe that it serves as a model for best practices in the field of social enterprise.