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What is Social Innovation?

By Nell Edgington



It’s a big buzz word right now, but what does it mean? Is it just a bunch of hype?

Social innovation is a whole group of big, ambitious, new ideas and models for solving social problems. Social innovation is about changing institutions, organizations, approaches, systems in fundamental ways so that we can fix the many problems facing us. It includes things like:

  • Creating new financial vehicles where nonprofit and for profit organizations that are working to solve social problems can have ready access to all kinds of funding (seed funding, growth capital, debt, etc.)
  • Removing the hurdles placed in front of organizations working to solve social problems (accounting standards, IRS regulations, etc.)
  • Restructuring philanthropy to be more effective at supporting real change
  • Revamping government so that it can support, rather than thwart, change leaders
  • Reforming nonprofit organizations to break out of the starvation cycle and become more effective at creating social impact

And that’s just the beginning.

Social innovation is big.  It’s bold. It is a movement of people and organizations from all three sectors (public, private, nonprofit) who are taking a completely different approach, who are turning the status quo on its head, who are building new systems, who are asking hard questions, who are creating a new way forward.

If you want to learn more, check out our What Nonprofits Can Learn From Social Entrepreneurs webinar or read our ongoing interview series with social innovators.


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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.

Friday, December 4th, 2009 Innovators, Nonprofits, Philanthropy

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3 Comments to What is Social Innovation?

Dwight Chestnut
June 14, 2010

Hi. I like your definition of social innovation. It’s intensive and powerful. In fact, I like it so much, I referenced your definition and website on a new social innovation project website I just posted.

http://www.launchpad4entrepreneurs.com/socialinnovation.html

Thanks

Dwight

Nell Edgington
June 15, 2010

Thanks Dwight. Your organization looks very interesting. I’m intrigued.

[...] nothing that The Peace Exchange likes more than socially innovative solutions to problems afflicting [...]

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