How much ‘social revenue’ did your company accrue in 2019?

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My company is looking to establish record revenues in 2020. I am not talking about the customary top-line revenue, but rather something I’d like to call, “social revenue.”

I define social revenue by simply taking the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “revenue” and replacing the word “income” with “benefit.” Therefore, “social revenue” is a benefit of substantial nature for a company or organization. It is those three words, “of substantial nature,” that we are focusing on at Valley City Electronic Recycling (VCER). As a company, we want to add value or benefit of substantial nature to the community we serve in 2020.

VCER has numerous ways of generating social revenue. The most obvious is through our core competency of protecting the environment by keeping precious metals out of the landfill. We accomplish this by being an outlet for companies and individuals to discard their end-of-life and obsolete electronics.

A second source of social revenue that is intertwined with our core competency is education. While VCER does have salespeople on staff, internally they are viewed more as educators. The IT asset disposition or e-waste space that we are in still is relatively new and the service that we offer still is foreign to many companies. A large part of our sales force’s job is to educate companies about the hazards of improper electronics disposal and offer them a landfill alternative.

A third way VCER generates social revenue is by our practice of hiring returning citizens. VCER offers positions to those whom others deem unemployable due to gaps in their job history caused by incarceration. This allows these individuals to work on and improve their soft skills, and at the same time establish a meaningful resume. Hiring returning citizens is important, not just because it gives someone a second chance, but because it is proven that the chance of recidivism is reduced when returning citizens are in the workforce.

Lastly, VCER generates social revenue through donations. VCER donates one penny of every dollar of sales. Donations are made to organizations that are investing in the community, such as inner-city schools, inner-city community centers and organizations that are fighting homelessness. Not all VCER’s donations are monetary, however. VCER employees donate their time and talents by volunteering at organizations that are meaningful to them. The act of giving is a key driver of social revenue at VCER.

These are the four main ways that VCER generates social revenue. In 2020, we intend to achieve record levels of social revenue by using the principle of compounding, like compound interest. We want to double down and build on all the ways we generate social revenue, perhaps even thinking of new streams. In 2020, we want to increase our audience and education outreach. We want to help eliminate barriers for employment, as well as increase our staff and our employee wages. Finally, we want to be able to give more of our time and finances to our community.

Companies that focus on social revenue often are very profitable as well. People typically want to do business with companies that are beneficial to the greater community. To that end, we want to know: What can your company do to reach record highs in “social revenue” in 2020?

Jason Kehr is president of Valley City Electronic Recycling, a certified B Corp and licensed large quantity universal waste handler headquartered in metro Grand Rapids.

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