The social sector is changing whether you work in private, nonprofit, or government organizations. The public, social investors, philanthropists and leaders in government are demanding new social enterprise models that are cost effective, financially self-sustainable and adaptive to feedback. They need metrics with clear outcome accountability measures and the potential for large-scale impact and systems change. Social sector-oriented leaders from the nonprofit, government and private sectors are increasingly drawn to funding social innovation that has a lasting impact on communities, creates systems change, is financially self-sustainable, and has the potential to be taken to scale. They are less interested in funding costly traditional strategic plans, but do seek ways to test new ideas and models to determine whether the ideas are effective, sustainable or scalable before they receive significant investments.
In the Winter 2013/2014 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), a recent study showed that when it comes to social innovation, particularly social nonprofits, organizations face challenges since innovation is not only about new products or services, but also about changing the underlying beliefs and structures that can only come about from an enlightened workforce.
Traditionally, staff in the nonprofit sector, whether young or seasoned, have not come with business, legal, or policy backgrounds and therefore do not have the knowledge base from which to bring social enterprise models to fruition. (W. Nilsson & T. Paddock, Social Innovation from the Inside Out, SSIR Winter 2014). At the same time, according to Roger Martin, managers worldwide accept that good strategy is not the product of hours of careful research and modeling that lead to an inevitable and almost perfect conclusion. Instead, it’s the result of a simple and quite rough-and-ready process of thinking through what it would take to achieve what you want and then assessing whether it’s realistic to try.
Our new book Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership was written created with the social sector (e.g. social enterprise, nonprofit, government) managers and leaders in mind who collectively can create an environment that enables continual innovation while demanding real impact and performance.