Free Live Webinar: Trends in Social Enterprise 2019!

Free Live Webinar

Trends in Social Enterprise 2019

DATE: January 17, 2019

TIME: 9am PT / 10am MT / 11am CT / 12pm ET

What’s working in social enterprise?

*Learn about the top trends in social enterprise in this free live webinar, and how these trends may impact your social impact business.

*Also learn about Social Good Impact’s plans for 2019!

*Know someone who would be interested in this free webinar? Invite them!

Want to get the Launch Your Social Enterprise course for FREE?

Did you miss your chance to purchase the Launch Your Social Enterprise course at the discounted rate?

Want to win it for FREEEE?


We’re giving away the full course, including templates, to FIVE lucky winners!

Enter to win the Launch Your Social Enterprise course below!


Share with your friends for more chances to win.

Winners will be announced on January 2, 2019.

What is the Launch Your Social Enterprise course?

This course is for anyone with a potential social enterprise idea. (Hey, don't have a social enterprise idea yet? Take this free course and find your social enterprise sweet spot first!)

In this five-day email course, you'll get the tools to write your social enterprise plan, and make sure your social enterprise idea is sustainable, marketable, and impactful. This course gives you the tools to define your customer, analyze competition, begin building financial projections, and outlining the impact you hope to create in the world.

WHAT YOU'LL GET

Five-day email course. One email each day with 3-5 questions you can answer about your social enterprise idea.

  • Day 1 - Product/Service and Customer

  • Day 2 - Competition

  • Day 3 - Operations and Human Resources

  • Day 4 - Finance

  • Day 5 - Impact

Each email includes an audio recording of the lesson, to listen to at your leisure!

Social Enterprise Plan Workbook Guide. This is your printable download to jot your answers, ideas, thoughts and further questions about your social enterprise idea. This is delivered electronically.

ALSO INCLUDED IN THE COURSE…

You'll get other links, resources and tools to use in creating your feasibility study - including the Competitive Analysis TrackerCOGS Planner, Simple Monthly Budget, and Start Up Expense Planner (Value: $116).

Upswell 2018 Recap

I had the overwhelming joy to attend Upswell in Los Angeles in November 2018. (Thanks for getting me there, Bush Foundation!)

Those of you who know me well, know that I’m kind of a strong critic (see: curmudgeon). I’m not easily impressed, and always think we can do more and better.

With that disclaimer, Upswell was unlike any conference I’d been to, and I loved every minute of it.

I loved it so much I didn’t even have time to set up SocEntHotSeat interviews like I wanted! I didn’t get to see some of my local social entrepreneur friends in Los Angeles because I didn’t want to miss a minute of this conference.

And Upswell was all a bit of an experiment. It was the first time Independent Sector had held this type of “conference” so everyone in attendance wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. But it was the best conference I’ve attended this year, maybe ever.

So before I go on, mark November 13-15, 2019 on your calendar because Upswell is going to be in Chicago!

So, what made Upswell different and awesome?

Ground rules presented at the Upswell 2018 opening session.

Ground rules presented at the Upswell 2018 opening session.

Diverse and Engaged Attendees

You know how you go to an annual conference and you see all the same faces you’ve always seen? Most people go to fulfill some obligation to their employer, or receive professional development credits. Well, Upswell was different, and full of diverse and engaged attendees. I mean diversity of all kinds, not just race and gender. Attendees were from different sectors: government, corporate, nonprofit, social enterprise, foundations. And from different stages of the business life cycle: start up, growth, failure, closing. Attendees were genuinely engaged - wanting to learn, share experiences, not settle for status quo. I think the “ground rules” set during the opening session helped to shape this expectation for the rest of the week. The ground rules were:

  • Be non-transactional

  • Learn and grow

  • Build connections

  • Give feedback

Plus, you’ll see that on the bottom of the screen it says “This is about a growth mindset.” That was the caption because every main stage session had live captioning! Thanks to World Institute on Disability for making these sessions accessible!

Immersive Experiences

Rather than staring at the same beige conference room walls all week, Upswell included immersive experiences in the Los Angeles area to understand challenges faced by the local community.

I had the pleasure to attend a tour of Little Tokyo, just a few miles from the conference hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Our tour guide, Scott, from Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) was incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, leading our group of 20 on a walking tour through the Little Tokyo neighborhood. We learned about the waves of displacement of Japanese Americans throughout the decades and the impact of zoning decisions and community development in that area. We finished the tour back at the JACCC with a bento box lunch and Japanese calligraphy class with a local artist.

By starting the conference with this experience, it helped to not only connect with people right away from the tour group, but also stay grounded in the real world challenges, not just bask in the glow of idealism.

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC). Part of the Upswell 2018 conference.

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC). Part of the Upswell 2018 conference.

Huge mural in Little Tokyo, painted by many community members.

Huge mural in Little Tokyo, painted by many community members.

Scott, tour guide from JACCC, showing the 134 year old grapefruit tree. Every Spring, they pick the fruit, make it into cocktails, and have a big fundraiser party!

Scott, tour guide from JACCC, showing the 134 year old grapefruit tree. Every Spring, they pick the fruit, make it into cocktails, and have a big fundraiser party!

Thankfully, we had a few practice runs before writing our Japanese kanji symbol on the special paper. The stamp in the lower left corner is for good luck. The symbol I chose is Happiness.

Thankfully, we had a few practice runs before writing our Japanese kanji symbol on the special paper. The stamp in the lower left corner is for good luck. The symbol I chose is Happiness.

Amazingly talented artist-in-residence at JACCC. He’s painting with a palm leaf!

Amazingly talented artist-in-residence at JACCC. He’s painting with a palm leaf!

Yummy bento box lunch, complete with salmon, rice, veggies, and a bunch of things I couldn’t identify.

Yummy bento box lunch, complete with salmon, rice, veggies, and a bunch of things I couldn’t identify.

Ample Space and Time to Genuinely Connect with People

Most conferences these days have concurrent sessions: 4-5 workshops per 90 minute time block. Upswell was different, by holding different types and styles of sessions so there was always something happening.

Spark Talks: These were super short 10-minute sessions with a guest speaker and 20-30 attendees. It was really intended to be a quick glimpse into a topic, with the idea to follow up after the conference to learn more. I really liked this type of session, but only attended one spark talk, about the Royal Society for Public Health initiative in the UK. This group measured how healthy communities are and what types of businesses contribute to good health and well-being. Shoutout to SDG 3 and 11! Really interesting stuff, and not what you would assume to be the most “healthy” for the community. Read the report here.

Presentation by  RSPH , about their Healthy on High Street report.

Presentation by RSPH, about their Healthy on High Street report.

Focus Groups: These were called “Focus Groups” but it was actually a group discussion about a topic (not a “focus group” in the traditional sense, as a market research method). The two, 30-minute focus group sessions I attended were not very informative, but I can see how this format would be really great with the right facilitator and group size. The focus group sessions were not limited on size, so I think the goal was to be 8-10 people but one of the sessions was over 30 people! Both the focus groups and spark talks were around the perimeter of the main ballroom, so there was some ambient noise as well. I would definitely be interested in leading a discussion topic around social enterprise business planning in this format.

Workshop Sessions: Each workshop session I attended was interactive and informative. The best session was Ann Mei Chang’s lean impact session (more about this below). In this session, our group focused on creating solutions to improve voter turnout, especially among young voters.

Lean Impact session at Upswell 2018 with Ann Mei Chang.

Lean Impact session at Upswell 2018 with Ann Mei Chang.

And the physical space itself was designed to invite connection. For example, the main ballroom was essentially standing room only with the speaker’s stage in the center of the room. High top tables were scattered throughout and chairs became more available as the week went on, but this open set up allowed for more roaming and connection than the typical set up (rounds of 10 where everyone is just glued to their smartphone). I know you’ve seen that at conferences before.

I’ve never seen a set up like this: the main stage is in the middle of the ballroom, with mostly standing room around it.

I’ve never seen a set up like this: the main stage is in the middle of the ballroom, with mostly standing room around it.

Tons of little places to sit and meet people. This just happened to be really early before anyone else was there, because #TimeZones.

Tons of little places to sit and meet people. This just happened to be really early before anyone else was there, because #TimeZones.

Lots of space to randomly meet people. Like, who’s up for Connect 4?

Lots of space to randomly meet people. Like, who’s up for Connect 4?

Some of My Personal Upswell Highlights

Meeting Ann Mei Chang

Ann Mei Chang is the author of Lean Impact. I saw her speak at SOCAP17 and really enjoyed what she had to say, so I wanted to make sure I attended her session at Upswell. The Lean Impact method follows the lean start up principles and applies them to social impact. Her workshop session included working time with a group of 10, to identify a problem, goal and target audience, as well as a possible solution to test within the next week. The type of rapid prototyping allows social entrepreneurs to create potential solutions, test them immediately, get feedback, and revise as needed.

Ann Mei Chang and Beth Palm at Upswell 2018

Ann Mei Chang and Beth Palm at Upswell 2018

Meeting the Team from Convergence

Convergence is possibly one of the most critical nonprofits in the United States today. Their stated mission on their 990 is “to foster collaboration among diverse groups on critical national issues.” That means, inviting individuals representing very differing viewpoints on a subject to find consensus on a topic. Topics have included health care, education, federal budget process, and criminal justice reform. Hefty issues, eh? When we feel divided and like the “other side” is wrong, we can always try to find common goals, even if our methods of getting to the solution are very different.

Panel discussion by the Convergence team at Upswell 2018

Panel discussion by the Convergence team at Upswell 2018

Ukulele Class

I mean, come on, what other conference has a drum circle and ukulele class? This class was just plain fun!

As the teacher Ukulenny said, “Who can be upset when you’re playing the ukulele?”

NAMM Foundation provided ukuleles during the class session, held on the hotel terrace under the California sunshine. I enjoyed this class so much, I bought a ukulele the next day when I got home to Minnesota. I’ve played every day since and am developing some nice calluses on my left hand.

Beth Palm at Upswell 2018 ukulele class

Beth Palm at Upswell 2018 ukulele class

Beth Palm and teacher Ukulenny at Upswell 2018

Beth Palm and teacher Ukulenny at Upswell 2018

All the ukuleles lined up at Upswell 2018

All the ukuleles lined up at Upswell 2018

If you’re planning events or conferences in 2019, this is the conference to model.

Social Enterprise Hot Seat Interviews at SOCAP18

I had the lovely opportunity to attend SOCAP18 this year (thanks to Bush Foundation!). This year was much better than last year - no wildfires to mess with my lungs, and as you may have read in my SOCAP17 recap, I stuck to my goal of spending my time meeting and talking with social entrepreneurs. Although the wifi was spotty at times, I was able to capture eighteen Social Enterprise Hot Seat (#SocEntHotSeat) interviews with social entrepreneurs from all over the world, including Vietnam, India, Canada, Kenya, and all over the United States.

View each of these interviews below or watch the full playlist on YouTube. Enjoy!


What did you think of SOCAP18? Leave a comment below! Or maybe I’ll see you next year at SOCAP19!

Plus - if you attended SOCAP or not, and you're looking to connect with like-minded people year-round, join our private Facebook group called SocEntChat - Social Enterprise Chat

New Free Webinar: 10+ Types of Funding to Start and Grow Your Social Enterprise

10+ TYPES OF FUNDING TO START AND GROW YOUR SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

with Beth Palm, MBA of Social Good Impact 


DATE AND TIME:

Thursday, November 8 at 9am PST / 10am MST / 11am CST / 12pm EST

In this FREE webinar, you'll learn about the types of funding available to social entrepreneurs to start and grow your business and impact.

This webinar includes a free workbook to jot your notes so you can find the RIGHT funding for your social enterprise.

THIS WEBINAR IS FOR YOU IF...

+ You are launching a social enterprise and not sure where to find start-up funding.

+ You need to find funding to grow your social enterprise and increase your impact.

+ You are new to social enterprise and want to know what the landscape of funding is like.

YOU'LL LEARN

+ Types of funding available to start your social enterprise

+ Opportunities for growth funding

+ Pros and cons of each type

+ How to get each type and what you need to be successful


How many social enterprises are in the United States?

I started this year on a quest to answer the big question:

How many social enterprises are in the United States?

The United States hasn’t measured this before and I get this question all the time. We don’t have a common legal structure or even a common definition of what a social enterprise is, but, we can start somewhere. Other places around the world complete this type of census on a regular basis and have some pretty amazing numbers - 70,000 social enterprises in the UK and 20,000 social enterprises in Australia - just to name a few.

Despite promotion through social media channels and keeping this census open for 9 months, this census survey DID NOT have a statistically significant number of social enterprises respond. However, I wanted to share the results of the 32 responses anyway, as a starting place and to glean any trends we can from this small sample size. Please note that a larger sample size of social enterprises could skew these results significantly. Read the information below with a grain of salt and comment below with any questions you have, or send me a message privately.

How many social enterprises are in the United States?


QUICK SUMMARY

We have some things in common with each other…

Over 70% of responses are Social by Selling, aka organizations that make their impact through what they sell or to whom they sell it.

The future is female. Sixty-nine percent of responses have a female leader of their social enterprise!

Forty-seven percent of respondents said over 90% of their revenue is earned income! But only 22% were profitable based on earned income (not philanthropic donations).

…But we also have some differences.

Legal structures vary widely - with equal numbers of for-profit and nonprofit organizations. There’s not one “right way to do social enterprise” in the United States.

Social enterprises operate in many different types of industries, but popular industries in this census include: Information technology and software, Manufacturing, Consulting, Retail (thrift, resale), Financial services/credit union.

We have small but mighty teams!

One third of social enterprises have no paid staff, and nearly 80% have a team of five or fewer staff. Forty-four percent have an annual budget under $50K.

We’re working to solve some big issues, including these popular Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • SDG10 Reduced Inequalities

  • SDG17 Partnership for the Goals

  • SDG1 No Poverty

  • SDG3 Good Health and Well-Being

And 50% of respondents measure their impact by using pre- and post- survey assessments with program participants.

We’re facing some big challenges.

The biggest challenge we are facing right now is access to funding (56%), followed by finding the right partnerships, marketing, and time management.

We also anticipate challenges in the next few years in those areas, as well as finding/attracting the right talent, and achieving the impact we want to see.

If we could improve one thing, it would be profitability (47%).



FULL SUMMARY

Demographics

What is your legal structure?

38% are structured as an LLC.

38% are 501c3 nonprofit

How is your social enterprise “social”?

Respondents could select which ways their entity qualified as a social enterprise, using the “social by” definitions.

A social enterprise can be social by:

Sharing: Organizations that exist to share some or all of their profits with charitable organizations or causes.

Selling: Organizations that make their impact through what they sell or to whom they sell it.

Sourcing: Organizations that develop their programs by how they make their products or services, typically using environmentally sustainable methods.

Staffing: Organizations that employ underserved communities, for example individuals with disabilities or individuals who are/were homeless.

Respondents could choose more than one way of being social, because most are!

Social enterprises are social by…

  • 41% are social by Sharing

  • 72% are social by Selling

  • 28% are social by Sourcing

  • 38% are social by Staffing

When did you start your social enterprise?

  • 78% of responses started their social enterprise between 2011 - 2018.

  • 50% of all responses started 2016 - 2018.


How many paid staff members?

We have small teams, sometimes not paid!

  • 31% have no paid staff members!

  • 78% of all responses had less than 5 paid staff

Who’s your leader?

  • 69% of social enterprise leaders are female!

Where are you based?

  • 91% are based in urban areas

  • 69% operate only in the United States

What industries do you operate in?

Popular industries for social enterprise:

  • Information technology and software

  • Manufacturing

  • Consulting

  • Retail - thrift, resale

  • Financial services, credit union

BUDGET AND PROFITABILITY

  • 44% have an annual budget under $50K

  • 47% said over 90% of their revenue is earned income!

  • 59% said less than 10% of their revenue is philanthropic income (donations).

Was your social enterprise profitable last year?

  • 22% were profitable based on earned income only

  • 28% were profitable when including philanthropic income

  • 50% were not profitable in 2017

MISSION AND IMPACT

Popular SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals 8
Sustainable Development Goals 10
Sustainable Development Goals 17
Sustainable Development Goals 1
Sustainable Development Goals 3

SDG8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG10 Reduced Inequalities

SDG17 Partnership for the Goals

SDG1 No Poverty

SDG3 Good Health and Well-Being

How do you measure impact?

50% said pre- and post- surveys with participants


LOOKING AHEAD AND CHALLENGES

What challenges are you facing right now?

  • 56% said access to funding

  • 47% said finding the right partnerships

  • 44% said marketing, finding and communicating with customers

  • 38% said time management, and getting everything done!

What challenges do you anticipate in the next 5 years?

  • 44% said access to funding

  • 31% said they anticipate partnership challenges

  • 28% anticipate marketing challenges

  • 25% anticipate human resources challenges in finding and attracting the right talent

  • 25% anticipate challenges in achieving the impact they want to see

What would you like to improve?

  • 47% want to improve profitability

  • 16% want opportunities and access to funding

If you’re struggling with the challenges above, I can help!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BETH PALM, MBA

Hi there! I'm Beth. I'm here to equip social entrepreneurs and change makers like you with the tools to change the world. As a jack-of-all-trades nonprofiteer and recognized social enterprise expert, I've walked the talk in this emerging industry. With over a decade of experience launching and managing social enterprises, I want to share my best tools, resources and knowledge with you.

I'd love to hear from you! Find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

Free Live Webinar on June 7 : Five Steps to Generate Impactful Social Enterprise Ideas

FREE LIVE WORKSHOP

Five Steps to Generate Impactful Social Enterprise Ideas

with Beth Palm, MBA of Social Good Impact

DATE AND TIME:

Thursday, June 7 at 9am PST / 10am MST / 11am CST / 12pm EST

In this free webinar, you'll learn the steps in finding your social enterprise idea. This webinar includes a workbook to jot your notes, and five steps to help you brainstorm your perfect social enterprise business idea.

 

THIS WEBINAR IS FOR YOU IF...

+ You have heard of social enterprise and know a little bit about what it means.

+ You want to make a difference and aren't sure where to start.

+ You have a potential social enterprise business idea but aren't sure if it's the right one FOR YOU. 

 

YOU'LL LEARN HOW TO...

+ Find Your Passion

+ Uncover Your Talent

+ Analyze the Market Opportunity

+ Solve a Social/Environmental Problem

+ Discover the Intersection and Plan Next Steps

 

YOU’LL ALSO LEARN…

+ The current industries of successful social enterprises

+ An introduction to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

+ When to say NO to a potential idea, and which combination of ideas leads to your perfect social enterprise business idea

When Should You Write Your Social Enterprise Business Plan

When Should You Write Your Social Enterprise Business Plan? Click through to find out!

I've been hearing recently that entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, don't see the value in writing a business plan.

Well, studies from the Harvard Business Review are saying that writing a business plan makes your venture more likely to succeed.

But does it need to be 40 pages? Heck no. 20 pages? Nope.

That's why I recommend a 5 page plan, like the one created in our Social Enterprise Feasibility Study course, as a quick assessment of your idea, so you can start testing it with real customers early on, and start creating the impact you want to see.

A recent HBR article highlights the timing of WHEN to write your business plan, to be most viable for your venture:

  • Entrepreneurs who plan are more likely to succeedSource. 
  • "...the most successful entrepreneurs were those that wrote their business plan between six and 12 months after deciding to start a business. Writing a plan in this timeframe increased the probability of venture viability success by 8%." Source. 
  • "...the optimal time to spend on the plan was three months. This increased the chances of creating a viable venture by 12%." Source. 
  • "We found that the sweet spot for writing a plan was around the time when the entrepreneur was actually talking to customers, getting their product ready for market, and thinking through their promotional and marketing activities. Committing a plan to paper alongside these activities increases a start-up’s chance of venture viability by 27%." Source. 

Read the full article here.

If you're ready to take the next step in developing your social enterprise idea into a plan, let's talk!

The Social Enterprise Feasibility Study course may be right for you, or one of our new templates may do the trick. If you're not sure which is right for your stage of planning, let's chat!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BETH PALM, MBA

Hi there! I'm Beth. I'm here to equip social entrepreneurs and change makers like you with the tools to change the world. As a jack-of-all-trades nonprofiteer and recognized social enterprise expert, I've walked the talk in this emerging industry. With over a decade of experience launching and managing social enterprises, I want to share my best tools, resources and knowledge with you.

I'd love to hear from you! Find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

Awesome Tools I Use Daily to Manage a Social Enterprise (Most are Free!)

Tools to Manage Social Enterprise.png

BUSINESS TOOLS

ASANA

You guys. I made the switch from Trello to Asana. And it's LIFE CHANGING. This free project management software is great for managing and organizing your social enterprise's team and projects. There are paid options for larger teams, but the free version is incredibly robust. Get Asana.

G SUITE

Use Gmail with your custom domain! G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps for Work, includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Forms... you get the idea. Collaborate in one doc and access it from any computer or mobile device. Starting at $5 per month, you can get a customized email (yourname@yoursocialenterprise.org) and access to the G Suite for your social enterprise. Click here and I'll send you a coupon for 20% off!

CANVA

Canva is THE resource for designing graphics, especially if you don’t have a graphic design background. I’m definitely not a graphic designer - this tool is a life saver! You can create social media images, flyers, blog post graphics - all with preset dimensions and layouts so your graphics are sure to look awesome. Plus, it’s free and super user-friendly!

MOO

Once you've designed something beautiful in Canva, you can order those items in print through Moo. I've ordered business cards, postcards, stickers and mini-cards from Moo - and every time I hand one of those little guys to someone, they ask where I got it. Super high quality, feels amazing, and doesn't fade. Plus, they have a new business card option that's made from 100% recycled t-shirts! How cool is that? Click here to get 20% off your first order at Moo. 

STICKER MULE

Or check out Sticker Mule for super high-quality stickers, labels, magnets, buttons and packaging to brand your social enterprise. Get $10 off your order here!

SQUARESPACE

Squarespace is the BEST website management platform. You can seriously get your website launched and domain purchased in a matter of minutes with their beautiful templates and user-friendly layout. If you've been frustrated by all the plug-ins of Wordpress, definitely check out Squarespace. It gives you more time to run your social enterprise and less time worrying about website layout and customization.

MAILCHIMP

MailChimp is my favorite email service provider for email marketing. As a social enterprise, you'll want to stay in touch with your supporters, and email is a great way to do that. Plus, I like to give the computer screen a high five after I send an email. I love that little monkey. #truestory

VISME

Visme is a great alternative to Canva, if you're not a designer and want to create amazing graphics. I recently used this tool to create the reader survey recap into an infographic. Pretty cool, eh? They have a plan that's totally free, and tons of free starter layouts, so you can make pretty presentations in just a few minutes. 

SELF-CARE

FIVE MINUTE JOURNAL

I've never really been into journaling. Some people can just sit down and write, but it's never really been for me. But this Five Minute Journal was something I had to try. It's basically three questions in the morning, and two at night, focusing on the good. If you want to just try it out, get the free pdf here

BOOKS

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done is a book about how to manage all that clutter. Email clutter, pieces of paper clutter, brain clutter. If you've struggled (or someone on your team has struggled) with keeping up on emails and productivity, give this system a try. It does take a little time to get used to, but Inbox Zero is an amaaaaaaaazing feeling to achieve.

The Alchemist

If you've ever thought - "What am I even doing right now? Why am I bothering? What is this all leading to?" - you must read The Alchemist. Anyone who's doubted themselves or asked if the tough work of social entrepreneurship is worth it, read this book. I don't normally read fiction, but this is my number one top fiction recommendation.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Every social enterprise should be implementing the Traction (EOS) system and set of tools. If you've had issues with accountability, alignment of values, productivity, or reaching goals, check out this book. There's a huge resource library with downloadable tools online - I found it's helpful to have those tools handy as you read, so you can implement right away. 

Get A Grip: How to Get Everything You Want from Your Entrepreneurial Business

Related to Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business - this book is the narrative version of the EOS system implementation. I found this a little easier to digest - just reading it like a story of a company going through the process of implementing the EOS system. 

TEMPLATES

View all of the templates I've used to launch and grow social enterprises in the past!


 

A few of the links above are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of the product links and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This allows me to make free content for you. I only recommend products I use and love!

Partnership in social enterprise: how to find the right partners and further your impact

Partnership in social enterprise: how to find the right partners and further your impact

Partnership in social enterprise: how to find the right partners and further your impact

A guest blog from Joanne Sonenshine of Connective Impact

Now, more than ever, businesses working on social, environmental or economic impact issues are told that in order to be most effective, they must partner, collaborate, build coalitions — take your pick of the “work together for the better” verbs. This is especially true for social entrepreneurs, tasked with finding a way to build purpose into a profit-generating organization, which in its DNA assumes that purpose comes from consensus.

Partnering, while I agree is absolutely critical these days to deliver true impact at scale, it is not always easy. The process of partnering is inherently time consuming, painstaking given the need to vet and match skills, and finding the right partners can be too resource-intensive to match its merit. So, why is partnering critical in order to address sustainability and social impact challenges like climate change, gender equity, poverty alleviation or environmental responsibility? The answer is simple: rather than relying on assumption or pure guess, companies are able to make more informed decisions about their business, investments, corporate social responsibility goals, social impact priorities and even philanthropic endeavors by listening to and working with others that have complementary skill sets.

For Connective Impact, our primary goal is to ensure the right partners are working together around issues of critical social, environmental and economic impact, so collaboration and effective engagement is possible.I have often found that companies jump into partnership development and other collaborative work without taking the time to evaluate the scenarios in front of them, truly understanding the challenges and gaps, and thenidentifying the partners to address those gaps.

Taking a few simple steps makes the process easier and more effective. This approach has been effective for corporations large and small, start-ups, social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and even the U.S. Government. At the end of the day we want to see a more productive, healthy and prosperous planet, so leveraging your partners toward those aims is really important. So, how can we make partnering easier, more streamlined and impactful?

First, it is critical for each organization to understand its own goals and objectives before even entering into a partnership or collaboration.Otherwise the mission of the organization’s sustainability strategy will be compromised, and the collaborative group will not be working in a space of comparative advantage. Prioritization at this stage is important, because it takes time and patience to capture all ongoing activity and developments, to determine where there are gaps and needs for partners, so being clear about what is most strategic is key.

Once priorities and specific gaps are clear, the next step is to clarify which existing or potential partners have similar goals, and where there are complementary skill sets to address glaring gaps. Preparation around joint action must happen before a partnership is solidified. This involves ensuring goals are aligned among partners, quantitative outcomes are defined, processes made clear and roles identified. Only then can the collaboration begin effective implementation. Having a clear sense of partnering criteria, what strengths each of the potential partners bring to the collaboration and the specific action items for each partner is critical.

Once a partnership is underway, taking the time to evaluate its effectiveness in both filling in gaps your prioritization exercise identified,and providing additional value, is worthwhile on a regular basis. Partners are partners for a reason: they help you help them. This special dynamic is not permanent. Missions will shift, geographical priorities will change and staff will come and go. Partnerships may change and that is ok. Putting in place a specified, regular check-in point on each partnership will ensure your partnership is built around trust, honesty and integrity of the work. This will also manage the right approach to refine and adjust as the collaborative work progresses.

With the right process in place to identify partners and understand mutual goals and joint outcomes, collaboration and effective engagement with others can be made much more actionable, rewarding and deliver benefit that far exceeds any costs.


About the Author: Joanne Sonenshine

Joanne Sonenshine is Founder of Connective Impact, an advisory firm helping organizations partner for more effective social, environmental and economic impact. Her book ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact, examines taking risks and seeking multi-faceted journeys to finding fulfillment and changing the world. Her course: A Path to Impact helps organizations walk through the 6 steps towards developing their own partnership strategies.

Where to Find Funding to Start and Grow Your Social Enterprise

I recently asked you to complete a survey about your social enterprise's funding needs. (If you haven't taken the survey yet, please do so here.)

As promised, I'd like to share some high-level takeaways from those who responded so far (eleven responses), and also provide information on where to find funding to start and grow your social enterprise. 

Survey Results

Everyone who completed the survey is either currently looking for funding, or will be in the near future, and wants to find funding to start or grow their social enterprise. Most want to find funding in order to hire new staff, or purchase equipment and supplies. Most are seeking gifts (philanthropic, donations, grants) and some are seeking impact investing dollars. Most have not sought funding before at all. The amount of funding sought ranged from $1 to $100,000+. Most of the challenges in the past with finding funding related to finding the right person or right funding stream for the right stage of the social enterprise business. Most of the anticipated challenges in finding funding in the future are related to building trust, making the case, and establishing rapport with funders. 

In addition to the Quick Guide to Social Enterprise Funding, which describes ten funding sources and how to find that funding, I'd like to lay out the funding options for starting and growing your social enterprise.

Looking for funding for your social enterprise? Find start-up and growth funding options for your social enterprise RIGHT HERE!

Start-Up Funding for your Social Enterprise

If your social enterprise is in the idea, start-up or pre-launch phase, you may find it difficult to secure funding from sources who are looking for "proof" that your idea actually works. To find funding when starting your social enterprise, you may want to consider: 

  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding can be a great way to show "proof of concept" by testing your product or service with potential customers. This pre-selling technique allows you to gather funding up front, before investing heavily in equipment, supplies, or staffing.

  • Business Plan Competitions: Some social enterprise business plan competitions allow you to submit your plan BEFORE launching, but others may require some level of proof of concept.

  • Grants: There are a number of philanthropic organizations that are looking for early stage social enterprises to invest in. Although this is usually not a loan but rather a gift, be cautious about the amount of time spent finding, applying for, and reporting on grants for your social enterprise. Seek grants that directly relate to your social enterprise's business plan and the impact you want to create.

  • Friends and family: Friends and family can often help bridge a small funding gap, especially in early stage development of your social enterprise. But remember to be clear with friends and family about expectations, so you don't ruin any relationships.

  • Savings/Self-Funded/Bootstrapped: One of the most popular ways to fund a start-up social enterprise is through bootstrapping, or using your own savings or funding to fund the initial equipment, supplies, staffing, and launch.

Growth Funding for your Social Enterprise

As your social enterprise grows, you will have the proof of concept to show new funding sources that your social enterprise idea has customers and is sustainable. In addition to the funding sources listed above in the start-up section, you may also want to consider:

  • Fellowships and Accelerators: Fellowships and accelerators will often require your social enterprise has a measurable history of results to qualify, but not always. These kinds of programs can be a great way to find financial support as well as advisors, board members, customers, donors, and other supporters of your mission.

  • CDFI or Bank Loans: Loans or credit from financial institutions will often require some proof of measurable results, as well as some type of collateral to back the investment. I recommend a loan or line of credit from a credit union or CDFI organization like Propel Nonprofits.

  • Impact Investing and Venture Capital: Depending on the agreement and expectations, most impact investing or venture capital will expect a financial return as well as social return for their investment. This type of funding is great to use for a specific purpose that you know will generate revenue and impact in the time specified.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BETH PALM, MBA

Beth Palm MBA - Social Enterprise and Sustainable Ethical Business

Hi there! I'm Beth. I'm here to equip social entrepreneurs and change makers like you with the tools to change the world. As a jack-of-all-trades nonprofiteer and recognized social enterprise expert, I've walked the talk in this emerging industry. With over a decade of experience launching and managing social enterprises, I want to share my best tools, resources and knowledge with you.

I'd love to hear from you! Find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

5 Mistakes Social Impact Start-Ups Make (And How To Avoid Them)

 This post was written for the Terra Digital Media audience and is reposted below. 

In 12 years of working in social enterprises, I’ve noticed a few mistakes most social impact start-ups make. Most of these aren’t malicious, but can cause major pain to your social enterprise. Here are five mistakes I’ve seen most often, and the ways to avoid them so you don’t make the same mistake.

5 Mistakes Social Impact Start-Ups Make And How To Avoid Them

Mistake #1: Starting without any plan at all

Most social enterprises start with no plan. No business plan, no strategic plan, no plan at all. And I totally understand prototyping and testing and failing and all that garbage that’s trendy right now. But this “jump in and see” attitude is not the same as critical thinking. There’s a time and place for prototyping (I talk about that later in this post).

I’m not saying you need a 40 page business plan before you start your social enterprise. But you do need to research and think enough about the business to know at least an ESTIMATE of your costs and expenses, reasonable revenue projections, competitive analysis, what staff may be needed, an idea of an operational plan, how you’re going to find and engage customers… and of course, how you’ll track and measure your social impact. Without this, you could find yourself 10-years into your business, still consider it a “start-up” and not have generated any profit or social impact (true story of a social enterprise I know).

How to avoid this mistake: Create a financially and impactfully sustainable plan! And I’ll help you.


Mistake #2: Not paying your staff

You probably won’t be able to pay staff right off the bat. But the sustainability and growth of your social enterprise relies on stellar staff to keep it going, so compensate them appropriately! And when I say stellar, I mean the very best person you can find for the job. If you have an open position, take your time to find the right fit. Hire slow, fire fast.

Volunteers can supplement your staff, but not replace them. Board members are not your staff. And just like your paid staff, onboard board members slowly and if possible, dismiss them quickly.

How to avoid this mistake: Build compensation into your business plan from the start. Be clear about how and when you’ll reasonably be able to pay staff (including yourself), to retain the talented unicorns you’ve got on your team.

 

Mistake #3: Starting a social enterprise in an industry you know nothing about

Don’t be Jon Snow. Know a little something about the industry you’re starting your social enterprise in. Don’t know anything? Hire someone who does. Can’t afford that? Work in the industry for a bit or learn about it yourself.

Just because you had the idea doesn’t mean you’re the best person to start or run the social enterprise.

For example, if you’ve never worked in construction and don’t know anything about the construction industry (regulations, licenses, safety, vendors, contracts, etc), would it make sense to start a social enterprise in that field? Probably not. Maybe work in that field for a bit. Take some classes in construction. Read some books. But just hoping that things will work out in your favor because of your social mission - well that’s just an expensive disservice to the people you’re trying to help.

How to avoid this mistake: Start a social enterprise in field you already know. If you don’t know the industry, hire someone who does.

Mistake #4: Assuming people will buy your product or service simply because of the social purpose

They won’t. People will not buy your product or service simply because of the social purpose. Your product or service needs to be competitive on price, quality, value, accessibility, and availability as every other in your niche - and all other things being equal - the consumer may decide to purchase in your favor because of the social purpose. Now, there are varying degrees of this elasticity depending on your product/service industry, but the general concept stays the same.

Considering many social enterprises are selling a product, let’s take that example for a moment. Say you purchase a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop that only sells fair trade, organic coffee. If that cup of coffee doesn’t taste good, how many more cups of coffee are you going to buy from that coffee shop? One? Maybe? Even if the coffee shop is convenient, you love the social mission, and the price is right (or less than other places!), the quality is poor and customers won’t come back. And it costs five times more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, so let’s make sure they have a great experience, eh?    

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure your product or service is competitive on the factors the customer looks for: price, quality, value, accessibility, and availability. I have a free Competitive Analysis guide to do this work BEFORE launching your social enterprise, in the free social enterprise toolkit. Access the social enterprise toolkit here.
 

Mistake #5: Assuming there’s a problem where there isn’t

The other mistakes I mention here are mostly related to the business side, but there’s a major mistake I see on the impact side of creating a social enterprise: the assumption of a social or environmental problem where there isn’t one.

What I mean by this is assuming you know the answer to the issue without fully understanding the problem.  

How can you get to the root of the problem and fully understand it?

  1. Ask the people experiencing the issue. This process is called Human Centered Design, and is essentially a method of asking people what they want and creating a solution specifically for them. Ideo.org has a free, 4-week course in this topic and exactly how to do it - I recommend signing up for it here.

  2. Use the 5 Whys. This is an activity you can do by yourself or with your board or cofounder. Start with stating the social or environmental problem you’re trying to solve. Then ask why, and answer as clearly as you can. Repeat this until you’ve asked why five times, or until you have clarity on the root of the issue. You might get stuck on the third or fourth time you ask why, and may need to do some research before you can answer. That’s great! Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers - you probably don’t.

How to avoid this mistake: Use Human Centered Design and the 5 whys to get to the root of the issue. Get to know the Sustainable Development Goals. Get to know others who are addressing the same issue already.


Beth Palm, MBA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BETH PALM, MBA
 

Hi there! I'm Beth. I'm here to equip social entrepreneurs and change makers like you with the tools to change the world. As a jack-of-all-trades nonprofiteer and recognized social enterprise expert, I've walked the talk in this emerging industry. With over a decade of experience launching and managing social enterprises, I want to share my best tools, resources and knowledge with you.

I'd love to hear from you! Find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Announcing the First Online Social Enterprise Mastermind Group!

DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?

YOU'VE FELT LIKE YOU'RE ON AN ISLAND.

No, I don't mean a nice, relaxing tropical vacation. I mean, the loneliness that comes with running a social enterprise business. You feel like you're the only one trying to do good. Friends and family don't get what you're trying to accomplish, and don't understand how you can make money to solve the world's largest issues.

YOU'VE FELT STUCK.

You know there's a way to solve the marketing or finance question that's been haunting you, but just don't know where to turn, or who to ask. Google just leads to more questions and confusion.

YOU'VE FELT OVERWHELMED.

You have a million hats on, you're short-staffed, and underpaid (or maybe not paid at all!). You've felt overwhelmed by the amount of work you have on your to-do list, and feel like there's no time to do it all. And you've felt overwhelmed about the size and scope of the social issues you're trying to solve. How can one person change a problem that's been around forever?

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE YOU?

THE #SOCENT MASTERMIND IS JUST FOR YOU.

WHAT IS THE #SOCENT MASTERMIND?

A mastermind group is a group of peers who are all facing similar struggles. The beauty of a mastermind group, versus individual coaching, is that you get the input and ideas from 5 people, not just one.

The multi-faceted approach of online meetings, one-on-one calls, and check-in points allows you to dig in to the issues facing your social enterprise with a group of your greatest allies by your side. #NoHaters

THE #SOCENT MASTERMIND (AKA SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MASTERMIND) IS THE FIRST ONLINE MASTERMIND GROUP JUST FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS. 

This group is for people who are serious about social enterprise.

  • This is a weekly, 3-month commitment. You'll meet through video chat with 5 other social entrepreneurs.
  • Each member will take two turns in the HOT SEAT - meaning, you'll get to share a challenge you're facing at your social enterprise and the group will help you solve it. 
  • You'll also get a one-on-one call with Beth to individually discuss and solve a challenge facing your social enterprise. 
  • Access to a private Facebook group for keeping in touch with the group informally.
  • Monthly themes to work on social enterprise best practices, like Marketing/Sales, Finance, Impact
  • Lifetime access to the Social Enterprise Feasibility Study course!
  • Lots of other fun surprises too!

2018 United States Social Enterprise Census


In the UK, there are 70,000 social enterprises.
In Australia, there are 20,000 social enterprises.

But, guess what -- no one knows how many social enterprises exist in the United States!

So let's answer the question: 

HOW MANY SOCIAL ENTERPRISES ARE THERE IN THE UNITED STATES? 



If you're part of a socially-minded business, nonprofit with earned income, benefit corporation, L3C or other social enterprise organization, and you're BASED IN THE UNITED STATES, this census is for you.

This census is LEGAL STRUCTURE AGNOSTIC - meaning, if your social enterprise is nonprofit or for-profit, we don't care. As long as you're selling a product or service, and have a social mission that guides your decisions, you can take this census. 

This census is also SOCIAL PURPOSE AGNOSTIC - meaning, we don't care what your goal or mission or purpose is - as long as it's making the world a better place. 

By counting the social enterprises in the United States, we can better advocate for resources, leverage marketing, share impact stories and make a larger impact together. 

Will you take 20 minutes to complete the 2018 United States Social Enterprise Census?

Questions? Contact us!

#socent Songs - A Playlist for the Social Entrepreneur

I teamed up with my friend Jackie from Changemaker podcast to create the ultimate playlist of social enterprise songs.

This is a playlist of songs about climate change, women's empowerment, social justice, working together, and making a difference.

If you want to get pumped up about doing your amazing social enterprise work, this is the playlist for you.

It has everything from Public Enemy, to Katy Perry, to the Rolling Stones, to Sam Cooke - something for everyone. Enjoy! 

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify!

 

What else would you add to this playlist? What's missing? Let me know in the comments and I'm happy to add your suggestions!

Enter to Win - Social Enterprise Feasibility Study Course!

Did you miss your chance to enroll in the Social Enterprise Feasibility Study course at the discounted price?

Well, you're in luck! We're giving away this course FOR FREE to 5 lucky people on December 12, 2017.

Enter to win here, and share on social media with your social enterprise friends over the next 12 days.

7 Deadly Sins of Social Enterprise

There are a few phrases I hear all the time from social entrepreneurs, nonprofit staff and other change makers... and they make me cringe. Not only cringe, but get me fired up! These phrases are so detrimental to the success of your social enterprise, I'm calling these phrases the 7 deadly sins of social enterprise. These are the phrases that kill the progress, profitability, efficiency and success of your social enterprise business.

If you're guilty of saying any of these, it's not too late. You can change your mindset. I've included a "what to say instead" option with each of the sinful phrases below.

7 Deadly Sins of Social Enterprise

1 | "This is the way we've always done it."

I swear, I've heard this one more than any of the others. Just because you've always done it one way does not mean it still makes sense to do now. The world is changing, your industry is changing, technology is changing... and being able to adapt to those changes is CRUCIAL to making progress toward the results you want to achieve.

What to say instead: "I'm open to understanding new ways of doing what we've done before. I'm interested in learning and growing personally, to help the social enterprise achieve the social mission."

2 | "People will buy our product/service just because of the social mission/cause."

Nope. They won't. Your product or service has to be competitive on price, value, availability... all the same things that every other business competes on. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll find a customer who chooses to buy your product because ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, the social mission tips their purchase decision in your favor. But you CANNOT RELY ON SOMEONE BUYING YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE ON THE SOCIAL MISSION ALONE. Depending on the industry, you may find that even a few cents difference in price can change the consumer's mind to purchase the competitor's product versus your social enterprise product.

What to say instead: "People will buy our social enterprise product/service because it's competitively priced, a great value, quality product/service... AND it's mission is to help people or the planet."

3 | "I don't like numbers."

Too bad. Numbers are your friend. They are reliable. They are facts. If you don't know how to read financial statements, hire someone to help you. But just ignoring them or not paying attention to numbers is not an option. 

What to say instead: "I'm not comfortable with numbers but I'm willing to invest in someone that can help me understand what I need to know, in order to become comfortable."

4 | "I'm too busy."

If you say you're too busy, it means you're spending too much time doing the wrong things. Everyone is busy. Everyone has a lot on their plates. Everyone is managing family needs, with grocery shopping, with cleaning bathrooms, with multiple deadlines, with social events, with... you get the idea. We're all busy. You're not special. What can you do if you find yourself saying this? Do a time study of how you actually spend your time. What can you stop doing? What can you delegate to someone else? 

What to say instead: "I've been busy doing the wrong things in the past and will change my priorities to be in line with the best use of my time going forward."

5 | "I don't know anything about the industry, but I'm going to start a social enterprise in that industry anyway."

Fail. If someone wouldn't hire you for the job, why would you be qualified to start a business in that industry? This is a big problem for social enterprise. There are LOTS of people who have huge hearts and really want to do the right thing - make the world a better place. But if you don't understand the industry, the business model, trends, challenges... you'll find yourself frustrated, broke and not achieving the social or environmental mission you wanted to create in the first place. 

What to say instead: "Because I'm not yet familiar with the industry I want to start a social enterprise in, I will first learn about that industry through research and will work in that industry to truly understand what it takes to be successful."

6 | "We'll just get a grant for that."

Grants can be helpful to supplement or support your nonprofit's mission, but grants can often be a distraction from your core mission and processes. The time to research and apply for grants, let alone site visits and grant reports, is a full time job. So, go after the grants that make sense for YOUR organization, mission, values and needs. Don't chase dollars just because they are available.

What to say instead: "We will apply for grants that directly benefit the people we serve and align with our values and programs."

7 | "The intern will just do that." / "We can just get an intern to handle that."

Don't pile that stuff on your unpaid intern. Internships, and staff roles, are a reciprocal relationship. Your intern wants the same respect, personal/professional development opportunities, and challenges as anyone else. Give them the opportunity to do that. Don't pile all the crap you don't want to do (filing, social media, data entry) on the intern. 

What to say instead: "We will value all staff and interns, treat them with respect, and provide opportunities to learn and advance in their careers."

What other phrases do you hear at your social enterprise - either good or bad? How do these phrases shape the culture and success of your social enterprise? Let me know in the comments below!

2017 Reader Survey Results!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our 2017 Reader Survey! If you didn't get a chance to complete the survey, don't worry! We'll be collecting feedback in 2018 too - so we make sure to stay on track with exactly what you need for your social enterprise. If you have feedback or thoughts for us in the meantime, please drop us a note here

Our 2017 survey was completed through Google Forms in August and September 2017. Fifty-seven people completed the survey. The survey results will be used to shape our 2018 content and offerings for social entrepreneurs. 

A few highlights from the results: 

  • All continents were represented! Just over half of the responses were from social entrepreneurs in North America. Hello friends from all over the world! Nearly 40% of you have worked in your social enterprise 3-5 years, and over 60% are actively working to grow your social enterprise. Way to go!
  • Learning styles were fairly evenly split among reading, watching video and listening to audio. We're planning to add new multimedia opportunities to learn in 2018! 
  • The two big things our readers want to see from us are more trainings (free and paid) on best practices in social enterprise, and more face-to-face events with like-minded social entrepreneurs. Stay tuned for a few new ways we are bringing these opportunities to you!
  • We asked you what you're struggling with right now. Most of you said responses related to Funding and Marketing. When we asked what you struggle with the MOST, you responded with Funding, Time/Project Management, and Competitive Analysis (developing your unique value proposition). In 2018, we're excited to bring you new opportunities to work on these items. 
What do social enterprises need? Check out the highlights from our 2017 Reader Survey.

What else would you like to see from us in 2018? How can we help you start your social enterprise, grow your business and impact, and make the difference you are hoping to achieve? Let us know in the comments below! 

7 Things You Always Wanted to Ask About Social Enterprise

Have you found yourself asking questions about social enterprise, and just getting blank stares? 

Or trying to Google something about social enterprise, just to end up more confused than when you started? 

Let's answer some of the most common questions about social enterprise.

7 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Social Enterprise. Click through to get your questions answered!

1 | What is a social enterprise?

Ok, if you're reading this, maybe you already know what a social enterprise is. But if you're new here, let me explain. A social enterprise is an organization that sells products or services in order to achieve its social purpose. I have a whole post about this topic - check it out here!

2 | How do I know if my organization or business is a social enterprise?

Based on the definition above, there are a couple of key phrases we can pull out, to help us determine if your organization or business is a social enterprise.

"Sells products or services" = sells a tangible good or delivers a service for a fee. 

"Social purpose" = nonprofit with tax-exempt status for social purpose OR business with social purpose declared in Articles of Incorporation, in directors decision-making, and included in regular reporting.

If your organization sells a product or service and has a social purpose - BOOM - that's a social enterprise. 

A social enterprise can be "social" by:

Sharing: Organizations that exist to share some or all of their profits with charitable organizations or causes.

Selling: Organizations that make their impact through what they sell or to whom they sell it.

Sourcing: Organizations that develop their programs by how they make their products or services, typically using environmentally sustainable methods.

Staffing: Organizations that employ underserved communities, for example individuals with disabilities or individuals who are/were homeless.

3 | Can a social enterprise be a nonprofit? Can a social enterprise be a for-profit? Is a social enterprise both nonprofit and for-profit?

Yes!

Ok next question...

Kidding.

But yeah, a social enterprise can be a nonprofit, for-profit, or can be any kind of combination of these two. Women's Bean Project is a 501c3 nonprofit. Fair Anita is a Benefit Corporation (for-profit). CityKid Java is an LLC wholly-owned by a 501c3 nonprofit Urban Ventures. All of these are considered social enterprises, because they 1) sell a product or service and 2) have a social purpose they are trying to achieve. 

In the nonprofit sector, we call a social enterprise a COMMERCIAL NONPROFIT.

In the business sector, we call a social enterprise a SOCIAL BUSINESS.

4 | How many social enterprises exist in the world?

No one knows! Because the definition of a social enterprise is vague, flexible and just beginning to gain consensus (which is all fine in a newly shaping sector), it's been hard to exactly count how many social enterprises there are in the world. However, more developed social enterprise ecosystems like the United Kingdom have begun to count and measure these organizations. "Government statistics identify around 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly a million people." Source: Social Enterprise UK - The Future of Business - State of Social Enterprise Survey 2017

I've started a list of the social enterprises based in Minnesota. If I'm missing any, please let me know!

5 | How is a social enterprise different than a regular for-profit business?

While both a social enterprise and regular for-profit business have a product or service they are selling, social enterprise has a social/environmental purpose or mission they are also trying to achieve. 

6 | What makes a social enterprise successful?

It's easy to measure how successful a for-profit business is, right? Look at the bottom line and see if it's positive or negative. Are you making money or not? Pretty easy to measure. 

But measuring success in a social enterprise is more difficult. In addition to positive financial performance, there are a few ways to look at mission success:

Impact Measurement / Feedback Surveys

Some social enterprises measure their impact by asking the participants, or people impacted by the social enterprise's programs, about their experience. This could look like pre- and post- feedback surveys to measure changes in behavior, satisfaction, outlook about the future, etc. Social enterprises that have a workforce development or training component may measure impact by contacting past participants at 30, 60, 90 and 365 days after leaving the program, to find out their employment status, earnings, or other key metrics. 

Macro-Level Measurement / Global Goals for Sustainable Development

A social enterprise can also measure their success by showing their impact alongside other similar organizations, to create large-scale change. This could look like a group of social enterprises in your geographic region sharing information about progress toward one of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

7 | This all sounds super freakin' cool. How can I be involved in social enterprise?

  • Buy from social enterprises. Spend your money with businesses that treat people and the environment well. Look for third-party certifications like B Corp, Fair Trade, 1% for the Planet and others, that show you the company has values in line with their operations. But not every social enterprise will have these certifications - so do your research.
  • Volunteer at a social enterprise. Many social enterprises are nonprofit organizations and are looking for help from volunteers to supplement their workforce. If you have expertise or even just moderate knowledge in an area, or can lend an extra set of hands to help out, you may be able to volunteer with a social enterprise in your community. Check out Volunteer Match for volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • Develop socially-minded practices at your own company. Alright - not every business in the world is going to drop everything and become a social enterprise, as much as I would like that. But, you can start now, where ever you are. No matter what role you're in or company you're at, you can find a way to incorporate socially-minded practices into your own work. What do I mean by socially-minded practices? Think about the ways your current job impacts customers, suppliers, the supply chain, the environment... are there small changes you could make to your own job that would treat people better (pay a living wage, improve their quality of life, more fulfilling work, safer working conditions, opportunities for skill development and advancement) and improve the environment (less waste, more efficient logistics routes, more recycling, buying locally, environmentally-friendly raw materials)? Take a minute to think about that. I bet there's one small change you could make to what you're doing right now. 
  • Get a job at a social enterprise. Many social enterprises are in the start-up phase of business growth, meaning, jobs are somewhat few and far between. But, there are social enterprise jobs out there. Get the Ultimate Social Enterprise Job Search Guide here, with a download to organize your social enterprise job search. 
  • Tell three people about social enterprise. Even though social enterprises have been around for over 100+ years (shoutout, Goodwill!), it's still a fairly new concept to most people. Tell three friends or family members about what you learned from this post. 

What else do you want to know about social enterprise? Leave me a comment below or send a private message.

SOCAP17 Recap

I was lucky enough to attend SOCAP17 in October 2017 in San Francisco, CA at Fort Mason, thanks to a local funder, the Bush Foundation. This was my first time attending this conference, although I've wanted to attend since the beginning (2007). 

Attending SOCAP for the first time? Read this recap of SOCAP17!

Many attendees arrive at SOCAP with one mission in mind: "Find impact investors who will fund my social enterprise." I had different goals. I had strong intent to meet as many of the 3,000 attendees as possible, attend workshops and networking events for 10+ hours each day, and share the stories of social entrepreneurs through #SocEntMoment videos on social media. But I failed miserably at this. Best laid plans, right?

The morning I got on the airplane to SFO, was the morning the wildfires started in Napa and Sonoma, CA. I received text messages and calls from concerned friends and family about our safety. Arriving at SFO that afternoon, I could already see the smoke in the sky, and feel the heaviness in my lungs. 

SOCAP17 started the next day. If you follow Social Good Impact on Instagram, you'll remember my not-so-great start to the day. I couldn't find the building for my day-long session. I tried to check-in at registration and was yelled at by a SOCAP staff member. I was already feeling ill from the smoke and my mood was dampened. 

I'd reviewed the conference sessions and had a few in mind that sounded interesting. After all, I'd heard from people who had attended SOCAP before, that the best way to approach the conference is to have a plan.

But for the rest of the conference, I decided to have no plan. I attended sessions randomly that I thought might be interesting, but not necessarily the ones I'd planned on. I met people who happened to be around, but not necessarily anyone I PLANNED on meeting. I hopped on to do some live video when the WiFi was stable, but didn't get to accomplish my goal of showcasing social enterprise stories through #SocEntMoment clips. 

And this was ok. I didn't get to do what I'd set out to do, and I was ok. 

I didn't meet 3,000 people, but the few dozen I did meet were high-quality, and I got to reconnect in person with a few people I haven't seen in a few years (see: Jonathan Lewis). I didn't attend every session I wanted to, but of the sessions I did attend, I found value:

Jed Emerson's talk on the Purpose of Capital and Focusing on the Why. I've seen Jed speak before at the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit, and this was a new side of Jed. Heartfelt, strong, straight-forward. Worth the 15 minute watch. You can read the full transcript here, but this section in particular stood out:

"The Purpose of Capital is to advance a more progressively free and just experience of life for all;

The Purpose of Capital is to negate, resist and challenge the present economic, social, environmental and political realities within which we now find ourselves;

The Purpose of Capital is to advance the fulfillment of our potential as a thriving planet and valued people;

The Purpose of Capital is to serve as a fuel for freedom and the attainment of the greatest potential for each person, in every community." - Jed Emerson

(Also, you can find the full SOCAP17 video playlist here.)

James Higa's keynote on 10 things he learned working for Steve Jobs at Apple. I won't list all 10 verbatim but will summarize with this: 

  • Simplicity = Clarity. There is no such thing as a small project. Projects distract you from focusing on the simple clarity of one main project. 
  • Hire people smarter than you. Build a team of A players at every level.
  • Excellence is a habit; practice it every day in every thing. Mistakes are a slide to mediocrity. 
  • Vision + Execution = Success. Do the critical thinking, research and analysis before you create your MVP and iterations. 

Most of the sessions seemed to include a "show and tell" component, and reflections over the past 10 years. (This was the 10th year of SOCAP, so that may have been why.) And while reflection time is good, I was hoping for more action-oriented, forward-focused, metrics-driven content. 

Overall, I came up with a TON of ideas for new free resources for the #socent toolkit. Stay tuned for new social enterprise tools and resources coming soon. If you don't already have access to the free #socent toolkit, you can sign up here.

If I'm lucky enough to attend SOCAP again, there are a couple things I'd do differently. 

  • I would spend WAY MORE time at the picnic tables outside the Festival Pavilion. You'll see these in every photo of SOCAP. I made more connections, had deeper conversations, and learned more from informal conversations near the picnic tables than I did anywhere else at SOCAP. 
  • I would attend every evening dinner, happy hour, networking event possible. This seemed to be the "secret menu" of SOCAP - finding house parties, dine-arounds and other networking opportunities to REALLY get to know people. 

So let me know in the comments below - what did you think of SOCAP17? Or other years you've attended SOCAP? 

Plus - if you attended SOCAP or not, and you're looking to connect with like-minded people year-round, join our private Facebook group called SocEntChat - Social Enterprise Chat