IDPF Visits Social Enterprise Alliance Summit 2015
This past week, the IDP Foundation attended the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit in Denver, Colorado to get acquainted with the social enterprise community and hear firsthand what challenges entrepreneurs face when creating and maintaining their businesses.
The Social Enterprise Alliance is the national membership organization and key catalyst for the rapidly growing social enterprise movement in the United States. They provide social enterprises with the resources needed to succeed, offer support and help grow the field on a national scale, and serve as a voice for more sustainable social impact.
Cross-sector collaboration is key to bringing many stakeholders together to solve a complex issue; however, despite the mass amounts of stock photos showing large groups working together harmoniously, that is far from the case. – Jenna O’Brien
Here are some of her takeaways from the sessions and burgeoning sector:
- Some of the most lively conversations I had with SEA attendees revolved around a proverbial elephant in the room of growing movements – how do we stay true to task and mission, while becoming a popular option, and of interest to the general public? One of the greatest achievements of the social enterprise movement is the widespread adoption and validity of the business model. Now comes the part where you have to decipher between who is legit and who is a knock-off playing to a trend.
- Cross-sector collaboration is key to bringing many stakeholders together to solve a complex issue; however, despite the mass amounts of stock photos showing large groups working together harmoniously, that is far from the case. When bringing players from the public, private, and civic spheres, you will usually find some stark misalignments with each sector’s institutional logics that can cause some tension.
- There is a growing concern for non-profits that could turn into social enterprises, but choose not to do so. According to a panel addressing Technology for Society, those entities that have the capability to become a social enterprise have a moral obligation to do so, in order to leave funding for those non-profits and budding social entrepreneurs who lack access. There are still issues and opinions about solving social problems with market solutions, but many feel philanthropic dollars should go to those starting out – not those with a 10-year track record. “Don’t milk the cow dry, leave some for someone else.”
- Millennials were a huge topic of conversation, and I must admit I was flattered to be on the minds of so many influential people! The conversation wasn’t negative; it was about how to work with the 1.1 billion world population (75.4 million in America) who have been at the forefront of technology and is a generation that truly cares. 75 percent of millennials donated to a non-profit in 2014, and 51 percent did volunteer work. How can we tap into this group who doesn’t value structure and are challenging old ways with new change? “Do you work within a system, outside the system, or create a new system?”