June 2011

What Small Businesses Need To Know Before They Choose A Cause-Marketing Partner

You’ve heard it before: Cause marketing helps small businesses improve their bottom lines while increasing their visibility in the community. Consumers notice when you show you care.

In fact, successful entrepreneurs start working with nonprofits when when their businesses are just starting. It seems to be good karma.

Having the Potential to Scale

This year’s Social Impact Exchange conference was a great opportunity to bring people together from traditional philanthropy and donor advised funds, as well as high net worth individuals, to engage in a dialogue about the complex issues that are inherent in trying to drive innovation and impact. We’ve walked away better able to understand how we scale promising innovation. We recognize the solutions that we’re all trying to work toward require us to enter into strategic collaborations with many different kinds of partners. We cannot scale something on our own.

Bring Your Hard Heads to Social Investing

Last week’s second annual Social Impact Exchange conference was filled with high energy, creativity, and a sincere dedication to improving people’s lives by scaling up evidence-based or high-performing social interventions. While many in the room represented philanthropic foundations, individual donors have been and are still the largest source of funding for the nonprofit sector. How can we create markets that successfully tap these sources of wealth for greater social return?

Creativity, Passion of Nonprofit Boards Honored

The quality of a nonprofit’s board can make or break the nonprofit, an often overlooked reality. Gone are the days – if they ever existed – of board membership as a feel-good sinecure. Gone, too, are the days when board membership was like a Supreme Court.

Business Plan For Nonprofit Growth: Industry and Market Analysis

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a 7-part series on Developing A Growth Business Plan. The series is based on presentations made at the Social Impact Exchange Symposium on Scaling Impact held June 14 and on the experiences of nonprofits that participated in the business plan competition. Industry and Market Analysis was presented by Summer Spencer, director of Community Wealth Ventures.

“Know your consumer,” “Assess the competition,” and “Anaylze the marketplace” don’t sound like mantras from the nonprofit sector. But they should be.

Nonprofits aiming to scale, and the funders who support them, are realizing that industry and market analysis and using business principles lay a solid groundwork for scaling.

Engaging Philanthropists and Opening New Channels and Sources of Growth Capital

It’s marketing 101: Emphasize the benefits to the consumers, not the benefit you gain by selling to them.

So, too, with philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals, according to panelists addressing Engaging Philanthropists and Opening New Channels and Sources of Growth Capital at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange’s Conference On Scaling Impact.

Can Citizen Action Lead to Social Change?

Yet another way to use social media to hold government accountable! No, not by crowdsourcing rallies and protests. A new website in India allows – encourages – people to report every time they pay a bribe; are asked for a bribe and don’t pay; or run into an honest government official.

Did Google Lose Sight Of Its Own Motto?

Imagine: Waking up to find that your access to Google products has been severed … forever.  Google search is dead. No access to Google docs. No gmail. You’ve put your eggs in the Google basket and now they’re all broken.

It happened to my colleague June 8.

Six Nonprofits That Have Successfully Scaled: Hats Off!!

It was called “Scaling In Action,” but it was really about giving the best and brightest in nonprofits going to scale the opportunity to address an audience of funders at the June 14 Symposium On Scaling Social Impact, sponsored by the Social Impact Exchange.

Another Nonprofit Learns the Value Of A Business Plan

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a 7-part series on Developing A Growth Business Plan. The series is based on presentations made at the Social Impact Exchange Symposium on Scaling Impact held June 14 and on the experiences of nonprofits that participated in the business plan competition.

The more a nonprofit learns from successful business practices, the more likely it is to be successful, according to Brad Joutras, director of development for Reading in Motion (RIM), one the competitors in the Social Impact Exchange (SIEx) 2011 Business Plan competition.

Scaling In Times of Tight Money: What Can We Do?

Big solutions – scaling – is needed for big societal challenges, such as housing, health and education, according to Gara LaMarche, president and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

LaMarche was the luncheon speaker at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange’s Conference On Scaling Impact.

Intermediaries Can Leverage Impact of Philanthropic $$$

It may seem like that dreadful “overhead,” but using an intermediary to put together funding options for scaling a nonprofit … well, it’s an investment in expertise, not a frivolous expense.

That was the point very clearly made by the panel, Intermediaries and Impact: How Can We Make Our Philantrhopic Dollars Go Further By Leveraging the Work of Intermediaries? at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange’s Conference On Scaling Impact.

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Protecting Their Reputations

If you haven’t been convinced of the importance of social media yet – after all, your business isn’t a government in need of overthrowing – maybe the latest news out of England will wake you up.

A soccer player got a court order barring any mention in the press of his tawdry affair. Despite the court order, it all got out on Twitter, which wasn’t included in the injunction. After all, how can you stop the world from chatting?

The Challenge Ahead: Unlocking Growth Capital for Nonprofits

Unlocking growth capital, now there’s a challenge, one addressed by a knowledgeable panel at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange’s Conference On Scaling Impact.

Foundations don’t invest enough for nonprofits to succeed, according to Kelly Fitzsimmons, chief program and strategy office for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The missing links:

  • money to experiment and learn,
  • money for capacity-building.

It’s a point made at last year’s conference as well but one well worth repeating.

Government as a Catalyst for Change and Scaling

Stephen Goldsmith, deputy mayor of New York City, sees government as the catalyst for bringing effective nonprofits to scale. Its role will not be to provide direct services, he said, but to create networks and leverage resources.

Among Goldsmith's many accomplishments in civic life is that he is director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School Of Government. And, as keynote speaker at the 2011 Social Impact Exchange's Conference On Scaling Impact, innovate is exactly what he challenged funders and philanthropists to do.

How to Overcome Fear of Social Media Metrics

Number crunchers love them; the rest of us are intimidated by them.

Analytics and metrics for social media are so bountiful as to be either a feast or overwhelming, depending on your attitude toward numbers. But the one thing they are not is insufficient.

Have Your Feet On The Ground When Looking At The Cloud

As I said in The Cloud: Not As Airy As You Thought, cloud computing is a boon to startup nonprofits and businesses as well as those that are growing.

Social Responsibility Leads To Bigger Profits

I think they got it! Two items this week give me confidence that there’s been a sea change in corporate thinking: The planet and the customer now count. It’s a business model that small businesses can profit from as well.

Back in ‘05 or so, Walmart got on the green bandwagon, designing greener packaging, cleaning up its supply chain, and generally opting for sustainability. It did not do this to help the environment; it wanted to improve its bottom line. And it succeeded.

What Every Nonprofit Needs to Know About Scaling Impact

The social sector is at a tipping point, a place where great changes in process must take place so great social change can happen:

  • The economy shifted.
  • Funding sources have realigned.
  • New funding options – private/public partnerships – are evolving.
  • The world itself – water resources, illness, poverty – has changed. Social ills are so massive that massive projects are needed to address them.
  • Technology now allows us to solve old problems with new techniques and to reach across borders, across cultures, and across sectors to find solutions and partners.