SSIR@PND

Through an agreement with the Stanford Social Innovation Review, PND is pleased to be able to offer a series of articles and profiles related to the "business" of improving society.

Money to Grow On

William Foster  |  September 24, 2008

In the for-profit world, the term "investment" has clear meaning and investors have sophisticated techniques for spotting and growing the most promising companies. Yet foundations and other nonprofit donors have not developed similar clarity or approaches. As a result, the nonprofit sector's greatest gems often languish well below their full potential. By better translating for-profit concepts, donors can learn how to scout out and grow the best nonprofits. Likewise, certain nonprofits can take a page from business's playbook and learn how to attract cash for expansion....

Fast Food and the Family Farm

Bruce Boyd  |  August 27, 2008

I am not so nostalgic about our agricultural past as to think we should turn back the clock 50 years; but for the good of our bodies and our planet, we must find an alternative to today's food production and distribution system. I am not the only one who thinks so....

Reimagining Microfinance

Alex Counts  |  August 1, 2008

Critics of microfinance institutions ask them to choose between helping the poor or making money for investors, but that is a false choice, says Alex Counts, CEO of the Grameen Foundation. MFIs, he adds, can have their impact and profit, too. Counts sketches a new vision of microfinance as a platform, not a product; one that relies on high volumes, not high margins; and that uses limits on private benefit, holistic performance standards, and third-party certification to help MFIs meet their bottom lines....

Achieving Breakthrough Performance

Elisabeth Babcock, Mark Gottfredson, Steve Schaubert  |  July 8, 2008

What we call breakthrough performance is the kind that positions nonprofits to create high levels of social impact and lasting change. Nonprofits that deliver great results over time are best positioned to survive, grow, and have an impact. Nonprofits that perform poorly, on the other hand, end up irrelevant or even as failures. And nonprofits that perform merely satisfactorily are vulnerable to shifts in the funding climate or the political environment....

The BOP Beckons

Joshua Weissburg  |  June 17, 2008

How do you go about delivering reliable energy to poor, off-the-grid villages in India? If you're an established energy company, you don't. Enter Decentralised Energy Systems (DESI Power), a young, India-based power company that built a biomass gasification plant that runs on inexpensive agricultural residues such as ipomoea, a weed plentiful throughout the Indian countryside....

Garden-Variety Revolution

Leslie Berger  |  May 30, 2008

Of earthworms Charles Darwin wrote, "It may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures." With the help of a talented social entrepreneur, hard work, and good luck, earthworms are making history again at TerraCycle Inc. in Trenton, N.J. The eco-friendly gardening supply company, which turns worm castings into organic liquid plant fertilizer, is growing faster than a wonga wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana) in springtime. It's also affirming the green movement's place in mainstream business....

The Greening of Wal-Mart

Erica Plambeck, Lyn Denend  |  May 7, 2008

Despite a historically narrow focus on operational efficiency, growth, and profits, the world's largest retailer has widened its sights, building networks of employees, nonprofits, government agencies, and suppliers to "green" its supply chains. Here's how and why Wal-Mart is using a network approach to decrease its environmental footprint — and to increase its profitability....

More Bang for the Buck

Alex Neuhoff, Robert Searle  |  April 16, 2008

Scores of pundits have written books, research reports, and articles about how business leaders extracted greater productivity from their companies. Yet few have paid attention to this topic in the nonprofit sector. Recognizing that increasing productivity could be a powerful way for nonprofit organizations to multiply the impact of their work, the authors explore how three nonprofits succeeded in reducing costs without sacrificing the quality of their services....

MBAs Gone Wild

James W. Shepard, Jr.  |  March 26, 2008

Without appropriate understanding of how nonprofits do business, the unprepared MBA professional can wreak havoc when strategic planning challenges mount....

Destination Unknown

Ellen Konar, Melissa Brown, Sheryl Sandberg  |  March 4, 2008

New findings show that there is a wide gulf between donors' intended and actual giving....

The Responsibility Paradox

Gerald F. Davis, Marina V.N. Whitman, Mayer N. Zald  |  February 6, 2008

The notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has not changed much over the years. As a result, just as stakeholders are holding corporations more responsible for their actions, corporations understand their responsibilities to stakeholders even less. To resolve this paradox, firms must update their CSR practices.

Competing for a Change

Leslie Berger  |  January 16, 2008

A growing number of foundations are offering low-interest loans, buying into green business ventures, and investing in other asset classes to advance their missions. Yet most mission investing remains haphazard and inconsequential. To bring about real change, foundations need to take a fundamentally different approach, making strategic mission investments that complement their grantmaking and leverage market forces....

The Power of Strategic Mission Investing

Mark Kramer, Sarah Cooch  |  December 12, 2007

A growing number of foundations are offering low-interest loans, buying into green business ventures, and investing in other asset classes to advance their missions. Yet most mission investing remains haphazard and inconsequential. To bring about real change, foundations need to take a fundamentally different approach, making strategic mission investments that complement their grantmaking and leverage market forces....

Micro-Franchise Against Malaria

Jessica Flannery  |  October 18, 2007

Msimbi is 11 years old. She is one of seven children in her family, and she lives in rural Kenya. Lately, Msimbi gets tired earlier than usual, and the sun feels hotter than usual. Her head, her limbs, and her back ache. She feels weak....

Creating High-Impact Nonprofits

Heather McLeod Grant, Leslie R. Crutchfield  |  September 19, 2007

In fewer than two decades, Teach for America has gone from a struggling start-up to a powerful force for education reform in the United States. Launched in 1989 by college senior Wendy Kopp on a shoestring budget in a borrowed office, the organization now attracts many of the country's best and brightest college graduates, who spend two years teaching in America's neediest public schools in exchange for a modest salary. In the last decade alone, Teach for America has more than quintupled in size, growing its budget from $10 million to $70 million and its number of teachers from 500 to 4,400. And it aims to double in size again in the next few years....

Pyrrhic Fundraising: Nonprofits Pay Dearly for Their Donations

Rosaline Juan  |  August 8, 2007

It takes money to make money, the saying goes. But nonprofits actually lose money — at least in the short term — when they try to raise funds through direct marketing, find the coauthors of a recent paper in the Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing (vol. 16, no. 1/2). The researchers show that over a one-year period, U.K. nonprofits earned just 39 cents in donations for each $1 they spent on direct mail. Altogether, fundraising through direct marketing, which includes direct mail, television and print advertisements, and face-to-face solicitation, generated just 44 cents for every $1 invested....

Partners for the Planet

David Yarnold  |  July 11, 2007

You know the world is changing when the largest corporate buy-out in history hinges on an environmental commitment. That's what happened in February when two top private equity firms enlisted the help of Environmental Defense, a nonprofit that finds practical solutions to environmental problems, to acquire TXU Corp., the largest utility in Texas, for $45 billion....

Microfinance Misses Its Mark

Aneel Karnani  |  June 15, 2007

Microcredit is the newest silver bullet for alleviating poverty. Wealthy philanthropists such as financier George Soros and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar are pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to the microcredit movement. Global commercial banks, such as Citigroup Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG, are establishing microfinance funds. Even people with just a few dollars to spare are going to microcredit Web sites and, with a click of the mouse, lending money to rice farmers in Ecuador and auto mechanics in Togo....