#SoCent

Capital for Cause: Back to Basics is a must attend event for all impact investors and social entrepreneurs looking to unleash capital for greater social impact as well as financial returns. It will be an engaging and interactive day of discussion and idea generation focusing on the topics of affordable housing and food security.

This week I am attending the Grow Conference in Whistler, BC.  The opening presenter, Brian Solis asked the audience – what is at the heart of your business?  The reason being, companies that focus on the social aspects of how they operate in the world are more successful than companies that only focus on the profit. Brian pointed out that innovation and disruption are mutually exclusive, but that new innovation can disrupt a market, just like disruption can lead to innovation.

My career has been shaped in the charitable sector. It spans two countries, several sub-sectors and a lot of fundraising time. When I decided to launch my own company it was at the begining of the formal social enterprise discussion in the States. I realized early on that what the charities value as their business and revenue models is not what the traditional markets value.  This seems obvious, when charities talk about their business, they talk about the lives that they have saved and how they do it on so few dollars.  When companies talk about their business, they talk about profit and commodities and consumers.  So it was with great interest that I read this past week's issue of the Globe & Mail on renaming the sector from non-profit to Social Profit.

Last month I started a blog post about creating a social enterprise dictionary. A discussion was started with comments coming from a variety of individuals.  Last night, over a glass of wine and some "old-fashioned" social networking with David Ian Gray, more was added to the #socent lexicon.

At this past year’s SoCap, I led an Open Space conversation around the language that we are using in the social business/enterprise/venture space. I have observed over the past few years, as this sector evolves and pushes boundaries, there is much inconsistency in how we communicate what we are doing.  These organizations are generating revenue by tackling some of the world’s biggest problems, yet there seems to be much confusion in the marketplace from those who are building the businesses and those who are investing in them.

For the past few days I have been in the Ottawa area attending the Imagine Canada/Volunteer Canada forum on Business & Community.  During this time I have had the opportunity to meet with social change agents in the non-profit sector and their funders (corporate and government).  While the conversations were interesting the needs of these organizations are great, there was a distinct gap in the dialogue.  I feel that missing from the table were Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (who make up approximately 80% of Canada's business market-place) and For-Profit Social Enterprises (there was representation from non-profit social enterprieses).

I recently tweeted some research that we had done by UnCommon Innovation on the state the financial services sector.  The focus on the study was on how advisors are talking with their clients about charitable giving.  What came out loud and clear is that advisors are looking for tools and resources to have deeper, more meaningful conversations with their clients about philanthropy.  These tools and resources can come from a number of places, the most knowledgeable place would be the charitable sector itself.

The past few weeks have seen several different reports on Trends in Philanthropy for 2011.  A few months ago I shared my thoughts on what the next couple of years will hold - here are the two most recent blog posts on this topic:

Opportunity in the Void - Societal Paradigm Shift

5 Global Forces that will Change Charitable Sector