Our Challenge: How are You Strengthening the Social Economy?

November 15, 2016 Catherine LaCour

I spent today surrounded by hundreds of the nation’s most innovative and passionate social change-makers here at the Social Innovation Summit. And if I’m being honest, I’ve had more than a few moments of feeling star-struck: From igniting the fight against human trafficking to rethinking the promise of edtech, these leaders have game-changing ideas and world-shaping commitment.

But we at Blackbaud had our own challenge to make to today to these leaders—and to you, wherever you’re leading from.

Today, we asked these innovators to imagine what it would be like if we – as a society – put as much effort into measuring, understanding and striving to drive growth in the social economy as we do in the broader economy.

A quick definition: the social economy is, to put it simply, the space in which we produce and consume social good. Social good can be created by individual change-makers, by non-profits, by for-profit corporations and every organizational form in between. It’s all of our work to do good in the world.

Here’s the challenge we shared from the Social Innovation Main Stage: It’s time for anyone who cares about pursuing good in the world to adopt a radical new paradigm, and start asking what we each are doing to not only achieve our own goals for good, but to help strengthen the entire social economy.

Because we believe that if we come together and build a stronger social economy –if we can work together across sectors in ways that are more effective and that drive greater participation – we’ll see real traction in creating a better world.

Instead of approaching social good in pieces in parts, this means how we plan, how we practice and execute, and how we measure should all be undergirded with the question: what can we, as a corporation, an organization, an individual do from our unique position and place in the world to drive growth and power more health in the social economy?


I shared that in a thriving social economy, we’d see greater participation and greater effectiveness.  A healthy social economy requires us to embrace the idea that Good is for Everyone, working to ensure that each and every one of us is able to contribute our unique value-add, from the social sector to private sector; from individual change-makers to large organizations and corporations.

And working toward a healthy social economy means a relentless focus on effectiveness, resulting in improved programs, sustainable, replicable models, and more. All of this will make the social economy run better, producing powerful end outcomes at a greater scale than we’ve ever seen before. The potential impact of even small shifts here is staggering: Consider that just a 1% increase in fundraising effectiveness alone in just the social sector could drive $3.7 billion more every year toward social good program work.

Doing more good more effectively. It’s the kind of world so many of us are working toward—so let’s work together.

Today was just the start of a much bigger conversation, and over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing more of our convictions about how we can drive health in the social economy based on the insights of our Social Good Scientists tm and more than 30 years at the intersection of tech and social good.

But this conversation needs you.  So let us know you’re interested, and we’ll keep you updated on opportunities to share your insights and your voice.

A better world is waiting on it.


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