social enterprise resources

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

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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!

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! 

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.

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