Philanthropy, in other words, is big business, accounting for 5 percent of GDP.
But until relatively recently, people who ran social enterprises often lacked business management skills that seemingly would come in handy; experience, for example, in running effective marketing campaigns, identification and recruitment of top talent, and measuring and reporting progress on goals. This has started to change -- in fact, management of nonprofits is seen today in many ways as its own unique discipline. Harvard Business School created its Social Enterprise Initiative in 1993 to address just these issues.
Kash Rangan, a cofounder of SEI, talks to the HBS Alumni Bulletin about the future of social enterprise, and what he views as a sector poised on the brink of transformation.
- Non-profits must become more adept at reporting the work they do. "That's a very big issue in this sector because there is no common measure or framework to assess whether these organizations are accomplishing their mission," Rangan says. When you show impact, more money will flow in, he says.
- Corporations have a responsibility to society as well as to shareholders. "In the decade of the '90s, maximizing shareholder value became a corporate mantra. But the notion that the corporation exists only to maximize shareholder value lasted only a decade. It was a historical anomaly."
- Venture funding -- where investors expect economic return on social projects -- is of limited value in its current state. "I don't think that's a realistic view of the work of nonprofits in general," Rangan says. "If you look at social service organizations working at the cutting edge of where markets have failed, the idea of venture philanthropy clicking is a little hard for me to buy into."
Rangan defines social enterprise as as an entity that's primarily in the business of creating social value, whether it be a non-profit or for-profit organization. Do you work in one of these organizations? Do you see the changes Rangan discusses?