Recently, I was invited to speak at The Combine, a conference bringing together movers and shakers in creativity, community, culture, capital and code from across the country. Held in Bloomington, Indiana, I was especially excited to attend seeing as Indiana was one of only 7 U.S. states I’ve left to visit! But more than that, I love boutique and smaller conferences, it’s a great opportunity to really get to know people and interact and the rise of these smaller conferences in growing technology sectors is a great opportunity for additional exposure to that region. Other examples of these boutique conferences are TribeCon (where I spoke last year) and Big Omaha.
The title of my talk was: Who Dat! How social entrepreneurs bring people together for a cause. Here are the main highlights, and you can view the presentation on slideshare.
- Know who it is that we’re talking about. Definition of a social entrepreneur: A mass recruiter of local change makers in society — a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything. – Ashoka
- Historical Examples of Leading Social Entrepreneurs:
• Susan B. Anthony (U.S.): Fought for Women’s Rights in the United States, including the right to control property and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment.
• Vinoba Bhave (India): Founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement, he caused the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres of land to aid India’s untouchables and landless.
• Dr. Maria Montessori (Italy): Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education.
• Florence Nightingale (U.K.): Founder of modern nursing, she established the ﬁrst school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions.
• Margaret Sanger (U.S.): Founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she led the movement for family planning efforts around the world.
• John Muir (U.S.): Naturalist and conservationist, he established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club.
- The most dangerous word in the English dictionary is “someday” – you have to make someday today. Start small, start anywhere to make things happen.
- Always have a plan of attack. If you are looking to build a social enterprise or cause into your company, all of the pieces don’t have to be perfect, but you should have a plan and a reason for your nonprofit partnerships just like you would with for-profit partners.
- Not everyone has to be an entrepreneur to make a change. Some people are intrapreneurs working within large organizations for change. Examples include Tide Loads of Hope and Disney CSR.
- Entrepreneurs don’t let opportunities pass them by. But they don’t jump on every bandwagon either. You have to pick your battled.
- Bake cause into your company as early as possible. The social gumbo will help build your company and also help strengten your commitments.
- Integrate cause into your brand and listen to your shareholders. Ultimately, they have to support and endorse what you do. Every company has shareholders and influencers, engage them early to get feedback to any new program, campaign or longterm initiative you’re looking to launch.
- Don’t keep it a secret! Share what you do and why. Transparency is more important than ever before.
- Quanitfy your campaigns. Cause campaigns aren’t charity campaigns. They still should tie to the bottom line and track them as such.
- Make the information easy to find. If people visit your website, can they find information about your cause-based campaigns or partnerships? Don’t make people dig to find the good you do.
- Highlight your partners. Highlighting others helps highlight you. It’s that simple.
- It’s easier to get started than you think. If you’re starting from zero, even a little bit will help. If you have a program in place or are looking to launch a new social entrepreneurial endeavor there are many resources to help you get your product, service, website out the door. Launch, analyze, build – then rinse and repeat.
If anyone has any questions or would like to contact me to speak at your conference, please drop me a line and I’d love to have a conversation with you. As a final note, I loved Bloomington, that place is amazing! I can’t wait to go back.