Social Entrepreneur Index nominee: Campaign Collective
We meet Simon Francis, one of our nominees for the Social Entrepreneur Index 2020, who introduces Campaign Collective and explains how giving back is at the heart of everything they do.
What does your social enterprise do?
Campaign Collective is a social enterprise helping charities, social enterprises, public service organisations and other campaigners benefit from affordable professional communications advice and support.
At the heart of our approach is a desire to run a communications agency differently and to create a sustainable business model which serves a specific client base in an ethical way. We do this by charging a day rate often half that of a normal agency and reinvesting profits we make into our social purpose fund to support campaigners.
We combine creativity with a solid integrated campaign management approach to create, build and deliver effective campaigns.
What made you start your business up?
The traditional marketing agency set up and fees tend to be out the reach of smaller charities and social enterprises. We wanted to change that. We’ve brought together a group of very experienced communications professionals – and ensured access is affordable, nimble and accessible.
We also wanted to reassure our clients that whoever worked on their account, they would have a minimum of 10 years’ experience working in marketing and communications.
Campaign Collective understands how the not-for-profit sector works and our clients can be confident that we’re not just in it for the money. Any profits we make are put back into helping very small charities and supporting people on the first rung of the PR and marketing ladder.
How do you measure your impact?
Profits are invested in our “social purpose fund” through which we then deliver on our social purpose. For more details on what we’ve delivered read our annual reports and check out our first major initiatives the Freedom To Campaign Guide and The Rooftop.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
We didn’t have any help when we started Campaign Collective. We were established with three founder members and we created our vision of offering affordable marketing solutions and then hit the ground running to build our business through our social networks. We also worked up a business plan to maximise new business leads.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
Our main vision when we set up Campaign Collective, as well as offering affordable marketing services, was to be able to give back through a social purpose.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
Having the choice to solely help charities, social enterprises, public service organisations and other campaigners benefit from affordable professional communications advice and support.
What have been the three biggest challenges that you have overcome (or that you’re still working on)?
Prior to COVID-19, it was getting people to understand that a communications agency that works remotely is just as effective as one that all works in the same office.
Perceptions on this have now been revolutionised. We now find ourselves in a situation where every agency has a remote-working culture, but without the depth of experience that we have gained over the years.
We will continue to develop a strong and unified workforce and find innovative ways to maintain and strengthen workplace relationships remotely.
Our biggest challenge in the future will be to continue to communicate our social enterprise status and the difference that makes when all organisations are now talking about how they benefit society and have a social impact.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Keep your overheads low. We are enthusiastic about our remote working model, which allows our members to enjoy a flexible work-life balance and means we can ensure each client has the best person for the job.
This also means that our overheads are low so we can fulfil our vision of offering affordable marketing solutions that are benchmarked at half the industry average.
Why do you think social enterprise is important?
We are one of the only communications agencies out there that combines having a social purpose with affordable support for smaller campaign groups and experienced consultants with a minimum of 10 years’ experience in their field.
It’s also vital that the structure of social enterprises are celebrated more broadly. While all organisations are shifting to say they benefit society, only social enterprises can pledge to truly serve society and exist to provide a positive impact on the public.
What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?
Our most ambitious project and biggest achievement was launching a positive news website to connect the public to campaigners and small charities. The Rooftop is a daily dose of positive news and available on Facebook and Twitter – we have also just launched a weekly YouTube show.
Latest audience figures are available online, but we now have more than 50,000 Facebook fans and have up to 500,000 content views a week.
What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Social Enterprise UK has provided us with lots of tips, advice and information and is our go-to website for information to help us. Social Enterprise Scotland also does a terrific job in supporting and stimulating the social enterprise ecosystem.
What’s been the most surprising thing about creating a social enterprise?
We still find it strange that social enterprises don’t work together more!
What are your plans for the next two to five years?
The objective of the Collective is to ensure organisations and campaigners creating a better society can benefit from affordable professional communications advice and support.
We have a positive social impact on society through our marketing campaigns, and we invest our profits in our social purpose fund. This is used to fund The Rooftop, which helps small organisations get their voices heard by the general public. This, in turn, increases our positive social impact.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?
We would like to see all charities, social enterprises and campaigners be able to access affordable, professional communications support.
More broadly, we want to see a transformation in how the media reports on stories globally, such as increasing the number of positive and heartfelt news stories and giving space for smaller campaign organisations.
We developed the Rooftop with this in mind, which gives a daily dose of positive news, with a particular focus on campaign groups who ordinarily don’t receive much media exposure for their efforts.
What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?
- Our most ambitious project and biggest achievement was launching a positive news website to connect the public to campaigners and small charities. The Rooftop is a daily dose of positive news and available on Facebook and Twitter – we have also just launched a weekly YouTube show.
- Using our social purpose fund to launch the Freedom To Campaign Guide to help charities understand what they can do under the UK Lobbying Act.
- Winning the Consultancy of the Year in 2018 at the Better Society Awards and being shortlisted in 2019 and 2020.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
If you claim your business is there to benefit society, prove it and become a social enterprise.
The UK Social Entrepreneur Index 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 information visit www.socialentsindex.co.uk