Author Rupert Scofield begins The Social Entreprenuer’s Handbook with a description of classic non-profit organizational success stories like the Peace Corps and Americorps. There is an extensive comparative discussion of “The Small Pond” vs. “The Big Pond” organizational scheme. These discussions are conditions precedent to building a successful non-profit model or superstructure set forth in greater detail later in the presentation.
This work is similar to Building Social Business by Dr. Muhammad Yunus (2010), which describes the success of various Grameen enterprises. The objective of the Grameen program is to overcome poverty, have a sustainable economy and a modest return on the investment; whereas, the objectives outlined by Rupert Scofield are mainly the social benefit within a non-profit organizational setting versus a profit seeking enterprise. When loans are paid back in the Grameen program, profits are plowed back into the company, not unlike the function of retained earnings in a for-profit company.
This discussion is helpful because there are opportunities for non-profits in Egypt, Libya, Tunesia, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Afghanistan and many areas of the world. The challenge is to establish the requisite funding and build meaningful personal relationships by engendering trust, dealing with goal incongruencies and taking calculated risks . Another dimension is building the organizational infrastructures requisite to carrying out an identifiable social mission in communities throughout the world.
The Small Pond refers to a smaller scale organization with organic operational modes because there are fewer people and less structure. Accordingly, each person has a wider span of control with a more decentralized decision-making apparatus and less bureaucracy. The Big Pond is the classic organizational hierarchy like the military or organized churches. These structures have more bureaucracy, formal standards, charters and a clearly defined span of control and boundary spanning functions. Organizational discretion tends to be more highly centralized with many decisions coming down from the top of the organizational hierarchy. Which organizational structure is best?
Much depends upon available financial resources, expertise, timeliness and many other factors too numerous to list in a finite review. Decentralized decisions tend to be made outside headquarters while centralized decision-making is found in larger organizations with more clearly defined spans of control. The post-Revolutionary War in America ceded more powers to the States in favor of a smaller central government.
Once a big idea emerges (like Cloud Computing), people tend to copy and emulate it. A big idea blossoms and spreads outward like a huge octopus. A starting venture needs a clearly definable mission with a cadre of knowledgable people who can spread out in the field and recruit customers and other key employees. The author encourages the reader to recruit top minds or human capital and build a big tent. Hire builders and fixers and not organizational destroyers. The most important aspect of hiring is screening for people who can identify with the mission enthusiastically. In addition, a modicum of organizational quiescence is critical with a minimum of sum zero conflict. Some conflict is always necessary in order to thrash out contrasting views to identify the optimal strategic direction, achievable benchmarks, implementation methodology and goal incongruencies of strategic constituencies involved in this whole process.
The challenge is to do the following:
- Set Reasonable Expectations
- Evaluate and lastly to Reward
Grass roots networks are a popular way to make an organization known. The classic modes of operation are public speaking, organizing public workshops, the internet and phone banks to contact potential clients to grow the business and encourage outreach into the community .
The federal government is another good resource as are state governments. In 2009, a full 49% of the federal budget went to contractors and grantees. Other resources are private capital and entrepreneurial knowhow.
Overall, The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook provides an easy-to-follow roadmap which outlines the formulation and implementation of non-profit sector projects of varying complexity. The book will be sought by non-profit sector operators, eleemosynary institutions, academicians, journalists, government contractors and a wide spectrum of the general public .