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Promoting

Promoting

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Published by Mary Buechler

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Published by: Mary Buechler on May 09, 2012
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PROMOTING SOCIAL ENTERPRISETHROUGH PUBLIC POLICYCHRISTOPHER RHODENBAUGH
Introduction: Better World Books
Social enterprise is the next rontier o American capitalism. It isthe market’s response to ineciency in the current economic systemo the United States. Companies are nancially rewarded or racingtoward the bottom, while the government burdens them indiscrimi-nately through a complex tax code. Meanwhile, non-prots spendtheir time soliciting donations rom the wealthiest to patch holes inthe social saety net and deciencies in environmental policy. So-cial enterprises address social and environmental problems throughearned revenue strategies. Solving social problems on every dollarearned has the capacity to revolutionize the way business and society interact, and the role o government in the United States. I compa-nies create a competitive advantage through a social mission, whilecreating a quality product at a competitive price, all stakeholders win.Social entrepreneurs are chasing the American dream, and in the pro-cess are making the world a better place.Imagine a customer with a choice between two websites to buy a book at the same price. Te rst will donate 8 percent o the protrom the sale to a literacy organization and give you ree shippingthat is carbon ofset.
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Te second takes 100 percent o the prot andthe customer pays or the shipping. Tat choice exists today: better- worldbooks.com versus amazon.com. How can a company be com-petitive when it gives away 8 percent o its prots? Welcome to a neorce in American business — or-prot social enterprises. For thesebusinesses, “mission equals margin,”
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and they are breaking into themainstream.
 
journal of undergraduate research
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Better World Books (BWB) receives a large portion o its booksthrough donations rom more than 1,800 college campuses and part-nerships with over 2,000 libraries nationwide. For every book thatBetter World Books receives as a donation, with the exception o li-brary donations that oten include a nancial donation to the library,the company’s only cost is collecting the books and stocking themon the shelves, enabling a much higher margin on used book salesthan traditional or-prot competitors. Te increased margin on usedbooks allows BWB to take a lower margin on new books, creating anonline store that is price competitive with the likes o Amazon. In aneconomic recession and a time in which booksellers have been strug-gling, including the bankruptcy o the major chain Borders Books,BWB has grown its workorce by 31% in the last three years. In thoseyears o signicant growth, BWB has raised more than $8.6 millionor literacy and education. In the process, it has diverted more than26,000 tons o books rom landlls.
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oday, BWB has donated morethan $9 million and recycled or reused 51.8 million books.
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Figure 1.1
Mission/VisionBetter World Books is a globalbookstore that harnesses the powero capitalism to bring literacy andopportunity to people around the world.
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Our vision is to be earth’s mostcustomer centric company; tobuild a place where people cancome to nd and discover anythingthey might want to buy online.
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Sales$45 million (2010) $57 million(Projected 2011)
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$34.2 billion (2010)
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Employees200-250 ull time employees (all with ull benets)
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33,700 (2008)
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Shipping PolicyFree international shipping on allproducts sold by BWB or in theBWB marketplace3.99 shipping minimum on allproducts sold, must pay individualshipping cost on items purchasedin Amazon marketplace
 
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promoting social enterprise through public policy
Philanthropy 
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-Raised over $9 million or Literacy including-$5.1 million or over 80literacy and educationnonprots-$3.9 million or librariesnationwide-Directly sent more than 4 millionbooks to Books or Arica, theNational Center or Family Literacy,and Feed the Children
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-No specic contribution data isavailable online.
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-In 2009,
Slate Magazine 
publishedan article, “Te New Scrooge: Arethere lemonade stands that devotemore to charity than Amazon.com?”
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-Amazon’s 2009 SEC lings andannual reports contain no mentiono corporate philanthropy.
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Environment-Re-used or recycled over 60 millionpounds o books-Reclaimed more than 720,000pounds o metal shelving romlibraries across the U.S.-19,000 tons o carbon ofset onBetterWorldBooks.com shipping
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-Amazon products ship in boxesmade o 43 percent recycledcardboard-Four out o 11 buildings atcorporate headquarters are LEEDcertied-Amazon is a world leader inselling used goods
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Price Comparisons(Total cost withshipping)
op 10 BestsellingBooks o theDecade
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$52.07 (save $12.07)
$64.14NY imes op10 Paperback Bestsellers (Fiction) April 2011
$88.59 (save $8.01)
$96.60NY imes op10 Paperback Bestsellers (Non-Fiction) April 2011
$99.80 (save $6.45)
$106.25op 10 extbooksin Sales Volume,Fall 2010$525.31Books within $1 o Amazon: 1/10
Textbooks cheaper than Amazon:3/10$479.09 (save $46.22)
NY imes op10 Children’s’Bestsellers, April2011$129.44Books within $1 o Amazon: 3/10
Books cheaper than Amazon: 4/10$120.68 (save $8.66)
Better World Books demonstrates how a mission-oriented business model can changethe competitive dynamic in a market. A company that donates eight percent o itsprofts to literacy programs is able to compete with the prices o the largest onlineretailer in the world.
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Better World Books is not alone. Te company exists be-cause market orces are calling or new business models that inuse

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