Social entrepreneurship does not have to equal creating your own nonprofit

Posted on February 1, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit, Social Entrepreneurship |

There has been a lot of buzz lately, thanks to Rosetta Thurman, about the overflow of new nonprofits in the sector. These blogs in tandem with my interest in social entrepreneurship have lead me to contemplate the promotion of social entrepreneurship and how some are using it to help people create new nonprofits.

Being a social entrepreneur should not mean starting a new nonprofit, especially if there is someone else doing the same thing already. Being a social entrepreneur should mean thinking of innovative ways to connect and collaborate with nonprofit organizations that already exist, organizations that are already doing a fantastic job.

Creating new nonprofits may lead to a potential dilution of resources in the sector, which could cause extensive problems for nonprofits currently doing a fantastic job with their mission.

Here are some tips for becoming a great social entrepreneur and utilizing the best resources in the sector: (I am definitely not an expert, but I see these ideas working everyday, and many of them come from discussions of those who are)

First – if you claim to be a social entrepreneur, innovation is key. And being innovative does not necessarily equal creating something new. Being innovative can be using already existing resources in a new way. Take Change.org for example. This Web site allows people around the world to connect with causes they love and spark interest in the organizations working for these causes. The End Global Poverty cause page has raised $23,431 and recommends the work of 35 nonprofits. Check out the Blog for Change to read thoughts from the founder and social entrepreneur Ben Rattray.

Second – do your research. Before starting a nonprofit check out the web to see if others are already doing something you can be involved in. If someone is already doing the same thing you want to do, join them! Check out Guidestar , Charity Navigator, and Ideablob just to name a few. These organizations list missions and 990s, rank charities, and allow entrepreneurs to post ideas (respectively). You may also want to check out your state’s nonprofit association.

My second suggestion is the hardest one for me, especially being from Generation Y. I have been taught to be a champion for what I believe in, take on the world and create opportunities for myself. But as time goes on I can appreciate this suggestion. It is much more fulfilling and beneficial for me to utilize the best resources out there to create the most change.

Finally – start blogging. Blogging is a great way to express your interest in specific causes and connect with others. Some of my coworkers are probably rolling their eyes right now, everyone I see I say “You should start a blog!” I don’t know how they haven’t been influenced into writing their own blogs yet? 🙂 But seriously it is a great way for anybody to get started on a new idea. My blog has morphed since starting just about 8 months ago and it’s definitely due to the connections I have made in the blogosphere. Ideas always flow easier when they are out on paper.

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3 Responses to “Social entrepreneurship does not have to equal creating your own nonprofit”

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Since I have started considering myself a ‘social entrepreneur’ I have come to view supporting high-impact social entrepreneurs as one of the best things I can do to further change. I have come to love the model of Ashoka particularly I think they have an eye for picking winners.

Thanks for the model. I will have to check it out.

[…] the nonprofit sector may be becoming too flooded with nonprofits and I urge anyone that wants to start a new nonprofit to do their research. This is why I was surprised to hear one of my favorite bloggers declare, “We need new nonprofits […]


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