OPINION: Is Too Much Funding Going to Social Entrepreneurs—And Too Little to Social Movements?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Are social movements more effective at bringing about large-scale change than social entrepreneurs? And if they are, why are so many funders excited about the latter compared to the former?

That’s a question worth pondering amid today’s news that yet another global effort has been launched to identify individuals with “disruptive and scalable ideas with the potential to change the world.” This effort, called the Change-the-World Social Entrepreneurs Competition, is being spearheaded by Forbes with help from a number of foundations. It will award $1 million in cash prizes.

Meanwhile, according to some research, philanthropic support for more traditional social activists and movement building efforts has been in decline for years.

Before digging into the big issues here, let’s start with a quiz: Name five social entrepreneurs who’ve shifted the direction of American life in the past five years?

I know, this is tricky, because various definitions exist of social entrepreneurs. But let’s go with a broad one, from Ashoka, which says they are individuals “with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.”

Okay, now back to the question: Who are some of the people who fit this description who’ve orchestrated significant change in the United States in recent years?


Source: Inside Philanthropy (link opens in a new window)

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philanthropy, social enterprise