Perth is an exciting place to be involved in the social impact space right now. With organizations like Spacecubed, Social Ventures Australia, the Centre for Social Impact, the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and the Perth Hub of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community all working to bridge Western Australia's commercial and social divide and to find new ways to synergise profit and purpose.
Today Perth-based creative agency DrawHistory launched a new social innovation program aligning perfectly with the energy of the city, partnering corporate ventures with altruistic initiatives. DrawHistory consult with businesses and on how they can engage better with audiences, while simultaneously building strong partnerships with social organizations to create real impact.
Frustrated by how corporate social responsibility had become little more than a tokenised branding strategy, DrawHistory decided to help to change the way that business sees social impact. They now sit at the intersection between business and community to build sustainable brands, craft clear user experiences and empower consumers. I spoke with Creative Director Jeffrey Effendi and Nonprofit Engagement Officer Angel Chen about DrawHistory's vision, mission and fresh approach to creating impact.
"We wanted to disrupt the way businesses do community engagement by opening that conversation to the corporate sector, and getting them to invest intimate time and targeted effort with smaller nonprofits whose missions resonate with them," says Jeffrey. "Imagine having innovative and sustainable solutions to your community's toughest issues being created together by diverse businesses and nonprofits. This alleviates some pressure for the nonprofits, raises awareness for important causes, and opens a conversation for corporates on how they can be more meaningfully involved."
Angel adds that "nonprofits are mission-driven organizations and are important channels to alleviating the injustices, poverty and starvation in the world. However, not all nonprofits believe in the importance of marketing and power of storytelling. On the other end, stakeholders can often attach a negative stigma to nonprofits that raises funds for advertising and marketing without understanding the benefits of reaching a larger audience."
So how does it work? DrawHistory provides nonprofits and commercial clients three different ways to collaborate, with each collaboration being scoped according to the needs and resources of each partner. Their partnership program is ultimately designed for business and nonprofit to start bringing change without the red tape.
Firstly, the partnership model could be a 'one of a kind initiative' where the partners will review where their goals and skills align. This could include launching online workshops or combining special knowledge to create new products.
Secondly, clients can provide pro bono services to address the needs of the nonprofit they deeply care about. This could include the creating of marketing strategies, shooting a set of photographs to tell their story or providing volunteers to enable the nonprofit to reach their goals faster.
Lastly, clients can provide financial resources if this will bring the greatest impact for the nonprofit. DrawHistory's clients and nonprofit partners arrange how they can maximise the power of every dollar. This can be recurring payments for additional staff or giving 5c of every $1 to one of their existing initiatives.
"For our pilot program, we have chosen to partner with 5 amazing nonprofits to create meaningful impact as we speak," explains Angel. "The agreement isn't exclusively geared for corporate and nonprofit partners. We've decided to partner with 5 diverse nonprofits because of their unique mandates, potential to grow, and need for capacity-building resources," says Jeffrey. "However, we're always on the lookout for social enterprises, whether for-profit or not, to engage with. If you lead an organisation, and you passionately believe in our vision to transform corporate culture, we'd love to chat with you."
Jeffrey and Angel haven't come across any other creative agencies in Australia that are facilitating partnerships in a similar way. Jeffrey believes that "branding, designing and marketing play influential roles in shaping company culture and consumer trust. As consultants, we make sure companies are engaging with their communities as effective as they can. In the long run, we'd like to see DrawHistory's model being replicated in other cities as DrawHistory hubs, housing skilled volunteers and creatives who will carry its mandate in their communities."
So how can you get in touch with DrawHistory? "If you're a corporate, we have a really intuitive Start a Project form on our website. This is to simply let us know where your organisation is now, and where you'd like to see it going into next," says Angel. "If you're a nonprofit, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a time to chat. We're always open to innovative ways for nonprofits and corporations to collaborate and build life-changing impact."