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.

Clean Sweep

Suzie Boss June 3, 2009

E + Co connects the dots between energy, poverty, and the environment

Full Scale Ahead

Dorothy Stoneman May 5, 2009

Many funders have been attracted to the initial replication process because they consider it "scaling," but few have committed to the more ambitious goal of expanding programs to full scale. YouthBuild founder Dorothy Stoneman explains that to get her affordable housing/teen education program to scale, its federal funding must increase from $60 million annually to $125 million annually; local programs will also need to raise $250 million annually. Her plan of attack? Engage the support of past supporters and step up communications and advocacy to bring in powerful new allies....

In the Black with BRAC

Kim Jonker April 8, 2009

Serving more than 110 million people per year, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee is the largest nonprofit in the world, but it doesn't receive the most charitable donations. Instead, BRAC's social enterprises generate 80 percent of its annual budget. These revenues have allowed the organization to develop, test, and replicate some of the world's most innovative anti-poverty programs....

Q & A: William Brindley

Eric Nee March 17, 2009

William Brindley is CEO of NetHope, a nonprofit consortium that helps international aid organizations use information technology to save lives....

The New Volunteer Workforce

David Eisner, Robert T. Grimm Jr., Shannon Maynard, Susannah Washburn February 10, 2009

Nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers, but most CEOs do a poor job of managing them. As a result, more than one-third of those who volunteer one year do not donate their time the next year — at any nonprofit. That adds up to an estimated $38 billion in lost labor. To remedy this situation, nonprofit leaders must develop a more strategic approach to managing this overlooked and undervalued talent pool. The good news is that new waves of retiring baby boomers and energetic young people are ready to fill the gap....

Rediscovering Social Innovation

Dale T. Miller, James A Phills, Jr., Kriss Deiglmeier January 13, 2009

Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise have become popular rallying points for those trying to improve the world. These two notions are positive ones, but neither is adequate when it comes to understanding and creating social change in all of its manifestations.

Cultivating the Green Consumer

Jeremy Oppenheim, Sheila Bonini December 10, 2008

Consumers say they want to buy ecologically friendly products and reduce their impact on the environment. But when they get to the cash register, their Earth-minded sentiments die on the vine. Although individual quirks underlie some of this hypocrisy, businesses can do a lot more to help would-be green consumers turn their talk into walk.

The Cultural Touch

November 12, 2008

By tailoring its methods to local values and needs, Rare has slowly seeded conservation programs in 40 countries. Yet as more and more species teeter on the brink of extinction, the organization must expand quickly. Here's how the boutique nonprofit is delivering customized Rare Pride social marketing campaigns to millions of people in the planet's most fragile ecosystems....

Q & A: David Gergen

James A Phills, Jr. October 14, 2008

David Gergen is one of America's best-known political pundits. And well he should be. Having spent three decades as advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, Gergen knows as much about what goes on inside the Beltway as anyone. What most people don't know is that Gergen is also an astute observer of social innovation....

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....