Social Citizen’s Top 10. #4: Social Entrepreneurship: The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development
Peter Brinckerhoff’s book, Social Entrepreneurship: The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development discusses the importance of social entrepreneurship and details steps nonprofit professionals should take when implementing entrepreneurial activities in their organization. Brinckerhoff believes social entrepreneurship “allows [organizations] to try new things, meet new needs, and serve more people, more efficiently sooner.” To Brinckerhoff, social entrepreneurship is another tool organizations can use to serve their mission better, without losing their core values. Throughout the book, he states examples of how organizations have made social entrepreneurship an important part of their day-to-day activities, but cautions all organizations not to lose their “mission focus” and become “just another business.” Brinckerhoff explains business practices organizations should implement, but never forgets to remind them about their mission. With mission as a focus, Brinckerhoff walks nonprofit professionals through the steps of creating new social entrepreneurship ventures within their organizations.
Brinckerhoff wrote Social Entrepreneurship for program staff, executives, and board members of established organizations. Throughout his book, he seeks to show these nonprofit professionals the benefits of social entrepreneurship, as well as how they can take the needed risks to serve their mission better. Social Entrepreneurship may also be helpful for individuals starting new nonprofit organizations. There are helpful hints new organizations may be able to use when creating their first strategic plans, or deciding on what programs they want to offer. Brinckerhoff’s tips are practical and reasonable, yet it is important for readers to have some background on social entrepreneurship. Brinckerhoff only gives a brief summary of the concept of social entrepreneurship.
Written similarly to an encyclopedia or textbook, Social Entrepreneurship tries to convince readers that being a social entrepreneur is beneficial and vital for their organization, through stale descriptions of how to implement entrepreneurial practices. To make up for his lack luster statements about the practices of social entrepreneurship, Brinckerhoff provides examples and “hands-on” tools for organizations to implement now. He states the benefits and importance of becoming a social entrepreneur, but lacks in the inspiration for an organization to become entrepreneurial. For a nonprofit professional there may need to be more than examples of small pieces of the social entrepreneurship puzzle. Nonprofit employees have a lot to do and Brinckerhoff says it will take a long time. I am not sure they would be convinced to take it on. Organizations can implement pieces of the book rather easily, but without worthwhile results shown from others using the method, some may not bother. Secondly, Brinckerhoff requires the implementation of the entire Social Entrepreneurship Model. In order for someone to take on the entire model, he or she would have to be already fully interested and devoted to becoming a social entrepreneur, and be part of an organization that is willing to take on these risks as well.
Someone who does not know much about social entrepreneurship should not choose this as his or her first book on the subject. Brinckerhoff’s writing appeals more to individuals that already have a high interest and specific knowledge of social entrepreneurship. This book is a “How-to” on becoming a social entrepreneur, on making your innovations and new programs successful for your mission. Someone who is very interested in becoming a social entrepreneur can pick this book up and implement the practices in their organization. Brinckerhoff also affirms that if an organization is going to implement any of the practices they must implement all of them, step-by-step. It may be particularly hard for small organizations or organizations that do not have a strong internal environment to begin with, to implement Brinckerhoff’s Social Entrepreneurship Model. Social entrepreneurship takes trust from everyone in the organization, and I believe many organizations would not be able to implement the entire model.
Throughout the book, Brinckerhoff gives a glimpse into the way many nonprofit organizations are managed. He suggests nonprofits need to take on more business like practices, while still maintaining their distinction of mission. I got the overall feeling that in all of his experiences Brinckerhoff finds the reason most nonprofit organizations are having problems, is because they are not implementing enough business-like practices, although he has seen some organizations implement them well. Business practices are a subject, as he states, that many nonprofit professionals do not want to discuss. He makes it a point to mention he knows many nonprofit organizational leaders may be nervous about implementing practices, but they will not regret doing it. It is important for all nonprofit organizations to implement some traditional business practices in their organization, while still maintaining their nonprofit quality. Managing nonprofits can be a challenge, especially if many nonprofit leaders continue to ignore the need for business practices. Brinckerhoff believes the solution is social entrepreneurship.
Social Entrepreneurship: The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development is a book for practitioners, executives, and board members of nonprofit organizations whom are considering expansion, establishing a new service, or collaboration with another organization. Social Entrepreneurship provides nonprofit professionals with all the tools they need to implement Peter Brinckerhoff’s Social Entrepreneurship Model in their organization. Brinckerhoff has years of experience and provides real world examples that make his book worthwhile to read if you are interested in integrating social entrepreneurship practices in your organization. Overall, nonprofit professionals would benefit from Brinckerhoff’s expertise, but need to avoid reading social entrepreneurship if they are unsure if they themselves or their organization can commit to implementing all of the tools.