social enterprise

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

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

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!

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.

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!

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

A (Somewhat) Quick Guide to Social Enterprise Funding

After receiving messages for over a year about challenges facing social entrepreneurs, there is a common theme: One of the biggest struggles facing social enterprises is understanding, and access to, start-up and growth funding.

What types of social enterprise funding are available to new social entrepreneurs?

What funding should I consider as a nonprofit social enterprise? What about as a for-profit social enterprise?

How do I know I need funding for my social enterprise and what would I use it for?

But before looking for funding or approaching any of these funders, investors or options below, you will want to have a good social enterprise idea and a strong business plan

Quick note before we jump in: I know this isn't a complete list and will be adding resources as they come available and as YOU let me know. If an opportunity is missing from this list, please let me know and I'll add it. And bookmark this page so you can revisit it later and get funding for your social enterprise.

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for our list of social enterprise funding options!

Let's take a look at each of these options. 

*Note: Many of these funding options are related to the United States, although there are international opportunities included throughout. 

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for our list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Savings/Self-Fund

What is it?

Your personal or organization's savings. This could be earned income from previous sales, savings from previous fiscal years set aside to start a social enterprise, or an individual's savings if you're a social entrepreneur.

How do you get it?

Save. But for real, there are tons of articles on advice for saving money, so we won't get into that here. Please do know that as a nonprofit organization, it's ok (and preferred!) to have money leftover at the end of the year to reinvest in your organization. Talk with your organization's Chief Financial Officer about how this money is saved and used, and brainstorm starting a social enterprise as one use for these funds.  

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Friends and Family

What is it? 

Money, either as a loan or not, from a friend or family member. who wants to invest in your social enterprise. 

How do you get it?

Ask for their support. You may be surprised at who wants to help your social enterprise get off the ground or grow! The friend or family member may give you money without an expectation of repayment, or they may prefer to loan you money to be repaid at a later date. So - just be really clear about what your friend or family member is expecting - maybe even put the agreement in writing. You don't want to ruin any relationships by having a misunderstanding about money. 

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Philanthropic Grants

What is it?

Funds from a foundation or other grant-giving institution. There is usually an application and review process before you receive funds, which may include submitting a theory of change and business plan. The funding may be tied to meeting specific outcomes, as reported through a grant report. 

How do you get it?

Complete the grant application for the funder. Most grants require that your organization is registered and in good standing as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, or that you have a fiscal sponsor who is one. You'll want to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and can actually deliver on the results you propose, before applying for the grant. A few foundations that have been associated with funding social enterprises in the past are:

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Chicago Community Trust

Calvert Foundation

St. Paul Foundation

McKnight Foundation

Northwest Area Foundation

Joyce Foundation

REDF 

VentureWell

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Blue Ridge Labs

Manhattan Institute

Chinook Fund

Kauffman Foundation

Otto Bremer Foundation

The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation

The Kresge Foundation

Blandin Foundation

Bush Foundation

p.s. Let me know of other funders and I'll list them here! Drop me a line. 

PRO TIP: When you visit event/fellowship or other websites related to social enterprise below, look for sponsors of those events. Those companies and organizations could also be potential funders of your social enterprise!

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Social Enterprise Business Plan Competitions

What is it?

There are a number of business plan competitions you can enter for your social enterprise. Usually, you will complete an online application and submit your idea and/or a full business plan. Depending on the competition, there may be a number of rounds to narrow the applicants based on votes through social media, or expert judges votes. Not only are business plan competitions a great way to find potential funding, but also advisors, board members and other supporters who can help grow your social enterprise. 

How do you get it?

Win! Or there may be prizes if you're a runner up. A few examples of social enterprise business plan competitions:

McKinsey Venture Academy is a social enterprise competition for university students based in the UK and Ireland.

Harvard Business School New Venture Competition

Hult Prize

Net Impact has a number of Challenges, Competitions and Fellowships

University of Florida Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition

Eureka! Road to Enterprise

Global Social Venture Competition

The Rise Fund: Under 30 Impact Challenge

The Great Social Enterprise Pitch

PRO TIP: If you haven't written a business plan before, don't worry! We have a free business plan template in our #socent toolkit. Download our business plan template for free!

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Fellowships and Accelerators

What is it?

A social enterprise fellowship or accelerator is a cohort or individual experience, usually including face-to-face learning time and often with online or virtual sessions, aimed at growing (accelerating the growth) of your social enterprise business. These can be roughly 6 months to 2 years in length, depending on the program, and are a great way to meet like-minded people who can be a sounding board for your social enterprise. Often times, the fellowship or accelerator will include a small amount of start-up funding, or the option to apply for funding.

How do you get it?

Complete an application and give it your best shot! Similar to grant funding applications, you will likely need to have a business plan and theory of change prepared as part of the application process. A few examples of social enterprise fellowships and accelerators are:

Echoing Green

Global Good Fund

REDF Accelerator

Kauffman Fellows

Ashoka

Civic Accelerator

Uncharted 

Blue Ridge Labs

Agora Partnerships Accelerator

Voqal Fellowship

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Crowdfunding

What is it?

Crowdfunding is sourcing small amounts ($1-$500 typically) of funds from MANY people, usually in a short period of time. Your crowdfunding contributors pledge the amount they are comfortable with, and usually have the option to choose from a variety of thank you gifts based on their contribution level. Crowdfunding campaigns have been very popular recently, including in the social enterprise sector. It's not only a way of finding funding, but also finding supporters and customers to grow your social enterprise. You'll want to use a crowdfunding campaign strategy when launching a new product, or taking on a new endeavor that requires cash up front (buying a new large piece of equipment in order to be more efficient, for example).

How do you get it?

There are tons of resources online about how to successfully fund a crowdfunding campaign, so here, we'll just talk about a few of the options:

Kickstarter is one of the most well known crowdfunding platforms. This is an all-or-nothing platform, so if you aren't fully funding at the end of the timeframe, you don't receive the funding. It's focused on creative projects so consider that before joining. 

There's a newer crowdfunding platform JUST FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS called StartSomeGood. And Crowdfund 360 can help you develop the plan to achieve your crowdfunding goals.

Other popular crowdfunding platforms are IndiegogoGoFundMe and Crowdrise. All are fairly similar, but read through their individual websites to see which is the best for you. 

Another platform that's gaining traction is Patreon. While this isn't the same style as other crowdfunding, it is an interesting way for individuals to contribute support on a monthly basis, in exchange for rewards. We set up a Patreon page for Social Good Impact earlier this year - You can become a Patreon member here! Plus, if you're interested in creating a Patreon page for your social enterprise, click here to earn bonuses up to $500!

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund Loans 

What is it?

According to CDFIfund.gov, "Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are mission-driven financial institutions that have been certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. CDFIs include credit unions, banks, loan funds, and venture capital funds that operate with a primary mission of serving low-income communities."

How do you get it?

Search the database to find where CDFI Funds have been distributed in your state. Then apply for a loan with one of the awardee organizations. A couple examples are the Nonprofit Finance Fund and Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Bank Loans

What is it?

A loan from a banking institution that you pay back over a period of time, and pay interest on the amount of the loan. The banker may need collateral (something to ensure you're able to pay back the loan, if you default) in order to approve your loan. You may want to get a loan for a large purchase, like a piece of equipment, to start or grow your social enterprise. 

How do you get it?

Apply for a loan with a bank you trust. If possible, find a nonprofit bank, like a credit union

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Bank Line of Credit

What is it?

Similar to a bank loan, but more flexible. Think of this like your credit card. Your credit card has a maximum limit you can spend, and you receive your statement each month to pay off. A Line of Credit (LOC) is can be helpful if your business has cash flow issues, A/R lag time, or needs for short-term cash, with the intent to pay back right away. 

How do you get it?

Similar to a bank loan, apply for the line of credit with a bank you trust. If possible, find a nonprofit bank, like a credit union

Are you looking for funding for your social enterprise? Click through for the list of social enterprise funding options!

Social Enterprise Funding: Impact Investing, Angel Investors and Venture Capital

What is it?

Impact investing is a newer term and a big buzz phrase in social enterprise right now. According to GIIN, impact investing is basically "investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return."

Angel investors are usually affluent individuals who have money (capital) for your social enterprise to start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt (debt that will be converted to equity later) or ownership equity (equity in your social enterprise now).

On the other hand, a venture capitalist is an investor who either provides start-up or growth loan capital or equity capital.

How do you get it?

The GIIN's Investors' Council has a large list of impact investors.

Investor's Circle has opportunities for impact investing in select US states.

You can also check out B-Corp Fund!

“The B-Corp Fund is a social enterprise venture capital fund that provides up to $250K in direct financing or participates in syndicated investments that are registered as certified benefit corporations:

  • Access to over $250 million in committed capital for investment

  • Exposure to early growth stage benefit corporations

  • Social and environmental impact, with a positive investment return

  • Targeting media and internet, branded food and beverages, and consumer products


To contact B-Corp Fund, please email 
info@bcorpfund.com.” - http://www.bcorpfund.com

Interested in impact investing for yourself? Search Impact Base's online database to get started. 

Social Enterprise Funding: Non-traditional and other ideas

Your church or faith-based group may have a budget for local missions, and could support your social enterprise efforts. 

A local rotary or other business networking group may have opportunities for annual grants or loans for start-up of your venture. 

Host an event! Ticket sales, silent or live auctions, and raffles can be a great way to generate cash. Don't forget - you can sell your social enterprise product at the event too! With events, be cautious about how much time you spend on it, or it could be a losing battle.

As with any of the options mentioned here, make sure you're following your local laws on fundraising, taxes, etc.

What else? How have you funded your social enterprise start-up and growth? What has worked well and what hasn't? Let me know in the comments below!


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

26 Essential Social Enterprise Books

BONUS

This post contains affiliate links.


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

Five Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. for Social Entrepreneurs

Five quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. for Social Entrepreneurs

This is a big week for the United States, and the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 16, and Inauguration Day for the new President of the United States of America on Friday, January 20. 

I've delayed writing anything about the President-Elect, partly in hopes that the day would not come, and partly because I just don't know what to say. Even sitting here today writing this post, I'm still not sure exactly what to say.

But I do know that this is not the time for inaction. This is not the time to think that someone else will take care of it. This is not the time to watch discrimination happen and stay silent. Many of the things Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of decades ago, ring just as true today as ever. 

With the timing of this monumental week, I'm drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr. that can help social entrepreneurs, and all of us, to stay grounded and motivated. These are five of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness. - MLK, Jr.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -MLK, Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" -MLK, Jr.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
The time is always right to do what is right. -MLK, Jr.
The time is always right to do what is right. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. -MLK, Jr.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

What are some of your favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes? How do they relate to your work in social entrepreneurship? Let me know in the comments below.


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

Bethany Palm Accepted to REDF's Inaugural Cohort of REDF Accelerator Program

Check out the full press release from REDF below!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:

Lori Warren, Director of Marketing & Communications, REDF, lwarren@redf.org (415) 561-6683

Nicole Villanueva, Account Executive, FleishmanHillard, Nicole.Villanueva@fleishman.com (415) 318-4049

REDF ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL COHORT OF THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE FOR JOBS

ACCELERATOR PROGRAM

SAN FRANCISCO (October 6, 2016) - Today REDF announced its inaugural Social Enterprise for Jobs (SE4Jobs) Accelerator cohort of emerging leaders. The selected 18 participants, recognized from among more than 50 applicants across the nation, run double-bottom line businesses that support people facing the greatest barriers to employment. Program participants will apply skills to grow their social enterprises so they can impact more lives.

“Our Accelerator program is the first of its kind created to develop the future leaders of the social enterprise field on a national scale,” says Carla Javits, REDF CEO and president. “We want to strengthen the ability of social enterprise leaders to scale up their efforts to create jobs and provide support to people overcoming serious employment barriers like homelessness, incarceration, substance use and mental health struggles so they can be job-ready and achieve long-term employment success.”

Program participants will receive expert guidance on core business competencies and employee support programs, as well as the opportunity to build peer networks. The SE4Jobs Accelerator is an extension of REDF’s national Social Enterprise for Jobs network that was created in 2011 and is aligned with REDF’s national expansion and commitment to developing regional social enterprise ecosystems. The SE4Jobs Accelerator will be delivered in partnership with the Points of Light Civic Accelerator (CivicX), a national startup boot camp and investment fund for for-profit and nonprofit “civic ventures” that engage people to solve critical social issues. Since 2012, the Civic Accelerator has supported over 250 social entrepreneurs from across the country to scale their solutions to pressing social issues. 

“We are excited to expand our impact and bring our curriculum and learning to the REDF SE4Jobs Accelerator, as we partner to train and support leading innovators building sustainable solutions to workforce development,” said Ayesha Khanna, founder of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator.

Below is the list of the 18 participants in our first Social Enterprise for Jobs Accelerator cohort:

East Coast

·         AltheaBates, The Kitchen, Hartford, CT

·         Holly Shook, CUPs Coffeehouse, Baltimore, MD

·         Rae Gallagher, Flying Fruit, Baltimore, MD

 

Midwest

·         Jeremy Haines, Reclaim Detroit, Detroit, MI

·         Bethany Palm, EmergeWORKS, Minneapolis, MN

·         Michelle Horovitz, Appetite For Change, Minneapolis, MN

·         Thomas Adams, Better Futures Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

·         Linda Kramer, Lindy and Company, Dayton, OH

 

South

·         Wesley Rose, T-Town Tacos, Tulsa, OK

·         Betty Kirkland, Project Return, Nashville, TN

 

West Coast

·         Sabrina Mutukisna, The Town Kitchen, Oakland, CA

·         Dana Frasz, Food Shift, Oakland, CA

·         Frank Ricceri, Growing Grounds, San Luis Obispo, CA

·         Kevin Rodin, LA Towel & Linen Service, Los Angeles, CA

·         Chrissy Padilla Birkey, Good Soil Industries, Los Angeles, CA

·         Shana Lancaster, Mamacitas Café, Oakland, CA

·         Ricardo Moreno, Verde Landscape, Portland, OR

 

“Participating in the REDF SE4Jobs Accelerator means access to mentors, entrepreneurs and content experts who truly understand our business model and will propel us to the next stage of growth,” said Sabrina Mutukisna, founder and CEO of Town Kitchen. “The heft and experience of REDF and particularly of SE4Jobs represents, for us, a huge repository of experience and expertise, as well as a ready-made pool of peers,” added Bettie Kirkland, Executive Director of Project Return.

 

In addition to supporting growth and providing valuable peer assistance for participants, the program will help those most in need of another chance in life. "Being part of the REDF SE4Jobs Accelerator cohort is going to be a game changer for Good Soil Industries,” said Chrissy Padilla Birkey, Executive Director, Good Soil Industries. “In the last year we have seen the need for second chance jobs increase in our community, and need all the help we can get to meet the demand.”

The SE4Jobs Accelerator program will be offered annually with the next application period opening in mid-2017.

About REDF

REDF creates jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work – like young people who are disconnected from school or work, people who’ve been homeless or incarcerated, and those with mental health or substance use challenges. Founded in 1997 by George R. Roberts (KKR), REDF provides funding and business expertise to mission-driven organizations around the country to launch and grow social enterprises, which are businesses with a “double bottom line” that make money and reinvest their revenue to employ and support more people. For more information, follow REDF on Twitter at @REDFworks or visit http://redf.org/redf-se4jobs-accelerator/.

Minnesota Social Enterprise Round Up!

It can be hard to find businesses with a social purpose - so I'm on a quest to make it super super easy. Lots of activity is happening in Minnesota in social enterprise, so let's start with that! 

There are a few listed here, but I need your help! If a social enterprise is missing, please let me know, using the form below, and I'll add them to the list. Easy peasy. 

 

Pin that!

 
Name *
Name

 

 


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

What is a social enterprise?

One of the questions I get most often is:

 
So, what is a social enterprise?
— everybody
 

Usually followed by: 

"How do you know what one is?"

"Is my organization a social enterprise?!" 

So let's talk a little about what a social enterprise is - and what it is not.

A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IS

As defined in partnership with the Social Enterprise Alliance - Twin Cities board of directors: 

A social enterprise is an organization that sells products or services in order to achieve its social purpose.

Break it down!  Ok, let's take a couple of those terms in the definition and make sure we understand and agree on what they mean. 

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.

Whoa, what? How do you know if an organization has a social purpose? 

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.

So, what do we call these social enterprises?

In the nonprofit sector, we call it a COMMERCIAL NONPROFIT.

In the business sector, we call it a SOCIAL BUSINESS.

Confused? It's ok. Don't worry. We'll get through this. 

Ok, now that we know what a social enterprise IS, let's talk about what a social enterprise is not. 

A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IS NOT

A social enterprise is not a CONTRIBUTION NONPROFIT (a nonprofit organization that exclusively relies on philanthropic contributions; a charity in the traditional sense). These organizations are not a social enterprise because they don't sell a product or service. Remember that part of the definition? Oh yeah. 

A social enterprise is not a TRADITIONAL BUSINESS (a business that exists for the sole purpose of making profit). These companies are not a social enterprise because they don't have a social purpose. There are lots of businesses that have nice things they do for the community, but they are not social enterprises because the social purpose is not part of the structure, goals, reporting and decision-making.

What is a social enterprise? Get the full definition by clicking the image.

Make sense? Agree? Disagree? Let's discuss in the comments section below! 

 


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