OPINION: For-profit and nonprofit integration: The road to financial sustainability
Friday, November 6, 2015
I recently attended an excellent session titled “Supporting early stage social enterprises,” at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. Although the session was attended by leaders from the diverse worlds of nonprofit nongovernmental organizations, foundations and the private sector, there was a clear consensus in the room on the definition of a “social enterprise.”
The session defined a social enterprise as an entity driven by social impact and fueled by financial sustainability. Despite the agreement on what a social enterprise is, many were concerned about the implications of a social enterprise being either wholly for-profit or wholly nonprofit, especially in terms of that designation’s myriad effects on talent, funding, and establishing metrics for success.
This is a legitimate concern. How can a social enterprise that is nonprofit aim to deliver sustainable impact if it can’t achieve financial sustainability? And is it possible in the 21st century for corporations not to incorporate social impact as part of their core business strategy?