For a panel of thought leaders in social entrepreneurship speaking at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on May 13th, the answer was a resounding “no.”
In fact, those interested in making social change may be best served by using strategies highly characteristic of the private sector. Pfund highlighted Tesla Motors as an interesting case study of an organization focused on social impact that purposefully sells at a high margin. By targeting people with high disposable incomes now, Tesla may have the resources to create change on a larger level later on.
The core purpose of applying private sector concepts to nonprofit practice is to get concrete results. Kriss Deiglmeier, CEO of Tides, commented that "investors want scale and to see opportunity growth." To fuel this growth in opportunities and scale, Kriss explained, social impact organizations might be best served by focusing on regions offering the greatest opportunities to expand and reach more people in need. Similarly, Kristin Hull, President of Nia Global Solutions, explained that she chose social impact investing because she thought working as a VC and funding multiple nonprofits would offer greater opportunities to make a difference than working in just one nonprofit would.
Attending the panel helped me think about nonprofit work in a for-profit light. Organizations for social change are noticing the successful strategies of organizations in the private sector. They’re taking a closer look. And they’re taking notes.
Contributed by Minkee Sohn