Social entrepreneur and social innovation blogs

An organisation doing PR for a big event in our world asked me recently for a list of blogs related to this field / movement, as they were having trouble deciding who / what to contact. I put together a list of what I think the most influential / readable / interesting / relevant blogs are, and then thought that it was quite a useful list, so here it is, broken down with no real reasoning into US / UK / Other; there’s lots of other feeds I subscribe to, but tried to pick the most directly relevant blogs; please add any others in the comments:

– Social Edge:
– Social Enterprise Reporter:
– Stanford Social Innovation Review:
– Philanthropy 2173:
There’s a few others that are tangentially relevant
(Tactical Philanthropy etc) with a very good blogroll here:
– me, obviously, here and on
[I also blog at the and at
Innovation Exchange:]
– Rod Schwartz et al at Catalyst Fund:
– Todd Hannula at Social Catalyst:
– NESTA (various):
[tangentially Intelligent
Giving: and
David Wilcox are relevant also: ]
Other thoughts
– Doors of Perception:

I’d also add that, on blogging + web 2.0 / third sector, you have to read:
Beth’s Blog
Have Fun, Do Good
nfp 2.0

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Pre-Christmas social entrepreneurship round-up

Almost the last blog of the year, methinks, so a round-up of all the news and views from the past couple of weeks in the world of social enterprise and entrepreneurship….and general affiliated stuff. Long overdue, through a combination of ill health, deadlines and travel, so here goes:

– I was at SSE Liverpool last Thursday, and it was great to see the progress the students have made, and that the SSE itself is making, under the guidance of Sylvia Pearson and Claire Dove at Blackburne House. And, of course, I must report the news that Claire is the new Chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition: great news, and a real signal of intent from SEC.

5 tips for socially responsible start-ups includes "Don’t let your mission cloud your vision", although being the Xmas season, there’s probably a few other things clouding the vision right now…

– Rod Schwartz has some interesting reflections from Catalyst’s latest conference for Social Business CEOs

– Can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but Barack Obama called for a "social entrepreneur agency to make sure that small non-profits have the same kind of support that we give small businesses" in a recent speech; see you in Washington

– Bill Drayton of Ashoka is named one of America’s top 25 leaders, along with Oprah, of course

– Stifle that yawn: the quest to be the new Facebook / MySpace / LinkedIn / social network of this sector/movement continues; see this article on Razoo, this article on MyCharityPage (the sector’s Facebook apparently, although if the site was up and running, it might be easier to judge…) and UnLtdWorld, which is now opening up; reviews to follow in the New Year.

– Jeff Trexler is always readable, wherever he’s blogging, and his post on Social Enterprise and the Recency Illusion is well worth your time: "What is new…is not so much the underlying structure as our awareness of the metaphor itself". Quite.

– Rob Greenland has kicked up a debate about bottom-up (in communities) vs. top-down (outside of communities) regeneration via a post on Ernesto Sirolli. Check out the comments….

– The Council for Social Action met for the first time….

And finally, for all those working with a miserable colleague this winter (i.e. anyone working with me this past week), check out Work Happy: 25 tips to improve your mood when people around you are miserable

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Why the third sector shouldn’t fear blogging…

SSE is currently working on setting up blogs for the social enterprise ambassadors programme, in collaboration with our various consortium partners. We had an interesting conversation about the degree of moderation / filtering needed, and the risks of commenting. My view was that the more authentic / honest / unvarnished the better (the ambassadors are amazing people, and letting their passion and personality come across is part of what the programme is about), and that commenting wouldn’t be a substantial issue. Which is always easy to say, and never that easy to predict.

So I was happy to read Britt Bravo’s post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, titled "No-one has ever died from a blog comment". It echoes the point above, just in stronger terms:

"Has anyone ever died from a blog comment? Has a nonprofit been brought
down because they were too transparent and authentic online?….If being authentic, truthful and generous while listening, sharing and
collaborating are things nonprofits want to avoid, then, we’ve taken a
wrong turn."

Which is difficult to disagree with. The other issue that gets raised is "but what if we get thousands of comments, and lots of people have to be taken on to deal with them…?", but this rarely happens unless the blog reaches enormous critical mass; by which time the positives from such an audience vastly outweigh any drain on resources. As laid out in our "Should social entrepreneurs and social enterprises blog?" psot a while back, blogging shouldn’t be done because of hype, but because it fits into strategic communication and marketing objectives; understand why you are doing it, and it will be all the more powerful.

Feel free to comment below :0)

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Corporate social responsibility and inflection points

At the CAF Companies and Communities awards event yesterday, there was some interesting debate and discussion about CSR, the way it is changing, and how there has been a shift over the last two years in the way that it is viewed by the corporate sector. John Humphrys hosted (and gave out the awards later on: congratulations to all the winners) and was endearing in his contrariness. The most interesting insights for me came from Mark Kramer from FSG in the US, and I particularly enjoyed one graph he showed that looked as follows:

[click to enlarge]

Profit (or probability of profit) is on the y-axis, and consumer awareness (over time) on the x-axis. The red line represents profit from ‘harm’, and the green line profit from ‘cure’ (see below). The circled area is the inflection point.

Basically, the graph shows how companies reach a point where their ability to make money whilst still ‘harming’ or creating a problem (eg polluting, deforesting) becomes superseded by their ability to make money from ‘curing’ or creating a solution. Recognising the point where this happens (for each product / service / activity) is a key challenge for companies….or at least for those where this way of thinking can be applied. It also got me thinking that you could apply a similar graph from the charity point of view, with social impact on the y-axis: and the inflection point would be where the charity’s ability to change things through campaigning against corporates is superseded by their ability to make change by working with them.

Obviously this isn’t true for all, but it’s an interesting lens to look at this issue through. Particularly if one considers that social enterprise and social entrepreneurship might be viewed as operating at those respective inflection points from their inception.

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Gore, greenness and giving

I watched An Inconvenient Truth last night (I know: bit behind the times etc) which was good, if fairly depressing, Sunday night viewing. I found the powerpoint / argument / evidence compelling and got increasingly frustrated with the Gore-centred family interludes. Well worth seeing, as it does (re) inspire you to act and do what you can (particularly the credits, which are brilliantly done).

It was also remarkably relevant, given the conference in Bali currently and the news that Australia (as promised in recent election) has signed up to the Kyoto agreement. Which, at least according to Gore’s film, leaves the US as the only ‘advanced nation’ left who hasn’t. Nuff said. Of course, there will be those wondering why everyone has to fly to a beautiful location in Indonesia for the event (and, btw, it’s remarkable how many shots of Al Gore in an airport there are in the film), but let’s hope the outcomes justify the carbon outlay.

In other Gore-related news, my favourite headline of last week was "How the other half give", which discusses a hugely glamorous event to raise cash from, and engage/involve, celebrities for charitable causes. Those attending included Al Gore, Bob Geldof, Benazir Bhutto, Bianca Jagger… Jon Bon Jovi. Very much like the SSE Xmas party, then, just with less glamour but a slightly larger budget. Apparently, the last event involved spending of £800,000, of which half was on fundraising costs; which doesn’t seem like a great return, but there you go. If, as the organisers put it, it is as much about "educating" those present as it is about philanthropy, then let’s hope those objectives are achieved. The power that celebrities have to raise awareness and model behaviour remains extraordinary in today’s world.

But raising awareness has to translate into action, and that is where some high-profile figures do better than others. What stayed with me most from Gore’s film, alongside all the science, was his quote from Winston Churchill, and it seems to be very much about that urgency to act…not just speak and reflect.

"The era of
procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing, and baffling
expedience of delays is coming to a close. In its place, we
are coming to a period of consequences."

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