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Calling All Nonprofit Social Entrepreneurs

By Nell Edgington



There is a really interesting research study about social entrepreneurs going on at the University of Massachusetts and you may want to join in.

John Walker, Finance Director at Echoing Green and Nardia Haigh, Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Management at UMass Boston are investigating social entrepreneurs who went through a process of deciding whether to establish their organization as a non-profit, a for-profit, or a hybrid. They want to understand the range of circumstances under which social entrepreneurs identify which type of business model fits best for different situations.

While they have already interviewed many for-profit social entrepreneurs, they are having a hard time finding nonprofit social entrepreneurs, which is where you come in.

If you are a social entrepreneur and struggled with the decision about whether to form a for-profit/nonprofit/hybrid entity, Nardia would like to interview you about your organization’s strategies, structure, and direction.

According to Nardia, there are many circumstances under which hybrid organizations are established, and to date, two distinct variations of the hybrid business model are evident: Multi-entity and Integrated:

  • Multi-entity hybrids link for-profit and nonprofit entities – often through contracts and/or ownership. A nonprofit may establish and own all or part of a for-profit subsidiary (e.g. Embrace and Embrace Innovations), or a for-profit may establish a nonprofit and provide it with equity or other means for it to derive non-discretionary revenue.

  • Integrated entities are either for-profit companies with a strong social or environmental mission deeply embedded within its business model (e.g. TOMS Shoes or Maggie’s Organics, and companies registered as L3Cs), or are nonprofit organizations that use for-profit methods to generate revenue (e.g. Ten Thousand Villages or Ecosia.org).

In this study, they seek to understand the decision-making process entrepreneurs go through in choosing which to pursue.

Nardia’s research at UMass Boston focuses on business models and strategies that address large-scale sustainability issues in positive ways. And John has significant experience as an entrepreneur, an executive, and as a board member in a range of industries, where he specializes in financial analysis, capital raising, and structuring acquisition and investment deals.

If you are a social entrepreneur and would like to participate in this research study, contact Nardia at Nardia.Haigh@umb.edu.

Nardia has promised to share the results of the study with Social Velocity readers when it’s completed. I can’t wait to hear what they find out.

Photo Credit: piermario

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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.


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2 Comments to Calling All Nonprofit Social Entrepreneurs

[...] The University of Massachusetts is conducting a study on social entrepreneurs. If you are a nonprofit social entrepreneur, you may want to join in.  [...]

Nardia Haigh
October 15, 2012

Thank you to everyone who responded to this call for your help. Since Nell kindly posted the call I have had many very interesting and insightful conversations with some fantastic social entrepreneurs. Please know you have all added a great deal of value to the study.

I am still very keen to interview social entrepreneurs, so if you thought about contacting me but didn’t I would love to hear from you.

As Nell mentioned, I will be making the preliminary results available to all interviewees and key contacts. I’d love to have your experiences included!

Regards,
Nardia

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