Social Entrepreneurship under the heading Community Wealth Enterprise

In his book, “Revolution of the Heart”, Bill Shore defines a facet of social entrepreneurship: “Instead of businesses deciding what nonprofit causes to support with some of their excess profit, nonprofits need to decide what line of business they can devise to create profits needed to support their public-interest efforts.”

Nonprofits creating a business to create the cash they need to support their efforts. This hybrid entity has a name: Community Wealth Enterprise (CWE).

Instead of fighting for a slice of the charitable pie, a CWE bakes its own pie.

It’s not a business where profit margins are top priority, and it’s not a non-profit that strives for philanthropy but has no money of its own.

[Excerpts of an article by William Long]

Would your organization have given Gandhi a grant?

Here’s a thought-provoking question: Would your organization have given Gandhi a grant? How about Martin Luther King?

Speaking on the state of philanthropy, Dr. Bob Ross, the CEO of The California Endowment, said: “I shudder to think what would have happened if Martin Luther King, or Gandhi, or Cesar Chavez had submitted a grant application to us.”

He made this observation while discussing the ways his organization tries to push the boundaries on risk-taking while also being conscious of its mission, its appetite for risk, and the political and cultural climate in which it operates.

Generally, he said, foundations are very risk averse.

And of course, what impacted the audience was the thought that we could possibly pass on supporting someone who would go on to change the world in a really big way. Or that we already had.

A Paradigm Shift for Corporate Philanthropy

Even before the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted the role and power of corporate America in this nation’s wealth divide, according to researchers on corporate philanthropy, corporate foundation grantmakers felt “disconnected.”

It must be even more difficult since the occupiers targeted Wall Street and a spin-off, the 99% Movement, is marching on corporate shareholder meetings. Think of the quandary of corporate foundation staff: seen by the critics as factotums for a corporate agenda, seen from within their corporations as “do-gooders” perhaps not as connected to the “strategic” corporate agenda as bottom line-focused employees, and seen by themselves as people engaged, or wanting to be engaged, in philanthropy.

The researcher suggested corporate philanthropy is in that dreaded moment of “paradigm shift.” This is usually a term contributed by consultants and think tankers, but maybe it does apply in the corporate world as well.

Putting this in context:  “We need a new narrative about who we are, a narrative about value creation, how we’re creating more value for society.”

60 percent of Americans think that business is best equipped to solve our nation’s social problems, compared to a much smaller percentage who would turn to government.

[Excerpt of an article by Rick Cohen]

Grants as a source of funding

Access to capital is one of the greatest challenges for both small business owners and small non-profits and NGOs. Knowing where to look and how to sift through grant information that applies specifically to your business can be laborious. But, it can also be very rewarding.

Grant writing is a very specialized discipline and requires strong compliance, research, and writing skills. The relationship between grant makers and grant seekers is governed by specific grant protocol, which refers to the rules and requirements governing the provision and award of grant funding. Protocols are grant-specific.

Grant makers include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, corporations, clubs, and professional organizations. Grants are also provided by state, local, and federal governmental agencies.

State, local, and federal government grants are driven by legislation. Every year, the U.S. government awards $400 billion in grants. Private grant funding sources include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, corporations, clubs, and professional organizations. Information on private grants can be found on the Grantsmanship Center website (tgci.com). The website provides information on top grant making foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs, and state government grant opportunities by state.

Information on independent, corporate, and community foundation funding sources are also available on the Foundation Center website (foundationcenter.org) and the Council on Foundations (cof.org). The Foundation Center provides grant seekers with information on philanthropy opportunities, proposal writing, research, and training. The Council on Foundations provides grant makers (foundations, corporations, and philanthropic entities) with foundation management services.

Foundations and corporate giving programs offer two types of grants: general purpose or program development. General purpose grant awards can be used to fund operating expenses and special programs. Program development grant awards are restricted to funding specific projects.

Bottom line, the quality and completeness of your grant proposal has a tremendous impact on whether or not your project is selected for funding. It behooves those seeking grants to build a relationship with the grant maker to validate the grant proposal approach, if possible. If a face-to-face meeting is not feasible, a letter of introduction and a conference call is the next best option.