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Social Entrepreneurship : The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development

by Peter C. Brinckerhoff

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Moving along with the book reviews, this one is focused on the non-profit world, another one of my passions. This review is a bit more technical than some - just a warning that this book is not for light reading!

“Being businesslike can and should increase your capacity to do excellent mission, it should not in any way reduce your capacity to care, your concern for your community, or your humanity as an individual…”(2). What does this mean for supporters of non-profits, whether employees, funders, clients or other stakeholders? According to Peter C. Brinckerhoff, the author of Social Entrepreneurship: The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development, it means that it is perfectly acceptable and indeed desirable for non-profits to investigate innovative ways to expand programming and raise money to fund missions. The key is to utilize sound business practices and not be afraid to adopt reasonable risk if necessary. In this book, Brinckerhoff provides a thorough and logical guide to those seeking to evaluate risks and rewards of various development options.

Growing any aspect of a non-profit can be daunting. Is it a responsible allocation of resources, from employees to dollars? Does the organization have the capacity and ability to undertake the activity or business? How do you go about the whole process? Finally, what on earth is a “social entrepreneur”?

Brinckerhoff defines a social entrepreneur as someone who takes risks on behalf of the people his/her organization serves. He cautions that the role of a social entrepreneur is not to chase dollars, but to allocate resources according to sound investment decisions. Types of investments (or business development) include starting a new or expanding an existing product or service, expanding existing activities into new target populations or geographic areas, purchasing an existing business that is relevant to the organization or merging/partnering with an existing organization.
After an overview of social entrepreneurship in the first two chapters, Brinckerhoff discusses the seven steps a social entrepreneur needs to consider in the non-profit business development cycle. These are 1) review your mission; 2) establish the risk willingness of your organization; 3) establish the mission outcomes of the business; 4) idea generation; 5) preliminary and final feasibility studies; 6) business plan, including financials; 7) implementation plan with accountability. He finishes the book by cautioning the social entrepreneur against markets that move outside of his/her values envelope, customers that demand truly unreasonable changes in policy or program, chasing dollars instead of mission, and going for short-term returns instead of long-term gains.

If a step by step guide to social entrepreneurship or non-profit business/program development is what you are looking for, this book is a thorough resource. To the experienced programming or fundraising employee or volunteer, the book may seem like overkill. However, the book does provoke deeper analysis of motives and methods for anyone involved in non-profit social entrepreneurship. In all, this book is a good planning resource and guide that provides building blocks for expanding the capabilities and operations of a non-profit organization.
  BookBlogMuse | Dec 27, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0471362824, Hardcover)

Until very recently, popular belief held that business skills were not needed at charitable organizations. No longer. Far from interfering with an organization s ability to provide needed services, techniques such as marketing, cash flow analysis, property management, and good use of technology all contribute to a charitable organization s mission capability. Unlike a not-for-profit that thinks of itself as a charity, the successful not-for-profit is really a mission-based business. In an era of rapid change, increasing competition, and the need for more accountability to governments, foundations, insurers, and donors, knowing how to innovate, compete, and take reasonable risks on behalf of the mission is critical. It is, in short, the era of the social entrepreneur.

The skilled social entrepreneur has the ability to get the most mission out of the resources at hand including traditional business techniques. Finally, here is a book that will help you learn their techniques. In Social Entrepreneurship, you will learn how successful social entrepreneurs:
* Focus on community wants and needs
* Match those with core competencies to provide the quality services
* Assess risk and gauge opportunity
* Develop new project ideas and test their feasibility
* Write a business plan
* Project finances in the plan
* Tap into new sources of funding
* Develop the idea of social entrepreneurship throughout the organization
* Make sure that mission, not money, is the bottom line


Also included are the seven essential steps of the not-for-profit business development process, real-world case studies, sample business plans, and a self-assessment process to determine if your organization is ready for social entrepreneurism. In addition to entrepreneurs, middle managers, policy setters, volunteers, and a host of other important staff members will get value from the mission-beneficial information in this book. Most important, Social Entrepreneurship will help you to help your organization succeed and thrive and make your job more interesting and productive.

Praise for Social Entrepreneurship
The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development

"A great read . . . contains both the theoretical underpinnings and practical applications that those of us in nonprofit leadership badly need. I will share it with my management team and board." Joseph M. Hafey, President and CEO, Public Health Institute

"A sound, practical guide for developing social entrepreneurs. Brinckerhoff makes taking mission-related business risks on behalf of the people served less risky with the step-by-step application of business ideas and techniques. Warnings, real-world examples, and hands-on advice keep the reader on track to sensible risk taking." Connie Kirk, President and CEO, Tommy Nobis Center

"Peter C. Brinckerhoff s new and masterfully written book has a lot of practical information in it for any organization that wants to learn how to become and stay entrepreneurial. Brinckerhoff provides the right kind of information to any organization interested in succeeding in a highly competitive and service-oriented environment . . . [and] stresses the importance of an organization s encouraging innovation and risk only if it does not lose sight of its core values, its strengths, and its mission. That is excellent advice for any organization and for anyone who ventures into entrepreneurial waters." Andrew H. Souerwine, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Management and Organization The School of Business Administration, University of Connecticut

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

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