Author Archive

7 Ways to Balance Mission and Margin

The SVN spring gathering’s closing panel brought together two of our most experienced and admired social entrepmission-increneurs to share how the lessons from their recent SVN book, Mission Inc., are more relevant than ever given the current downturn.

Julius Walls Jr is the founder and CEO of Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY, one of the country’s most innovative and respected social enterprise businesses. Kevin Lynch runs Rebuild Resources Inc., a $2.2M social enterprise in St. Paul, MN that helps connect former convicts and addicts reach self-sufficiency through work and spiritual recovery. For more on their book check out the SVN website or the detailed summary on our publisher Berrett-Koehler Press.

Their discussion closed by connecting the lessons from the book to the challenges many mission driven entrepreneurs are facing today. Julius: “These are times of great and hard struggle. However this community has an opportunity to benefit from the downturn more than any other industry. We all know lean times, we all know how to make great things happen with so few resources compared to the big guys.” But they are still hard times, and it will take a lot of grace and grit to survive and thrive as “the herd is culled”.

Julius and Kevin offered a powerful list: 7 ways to survive the hard times with the mission and the business in tact:

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April 26, 2009 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

Obama Makes Social Innovation Real

The opening panel for the SVN member gathering saw SVN members Greg Nelson from the White House, Jonathan Greenblatt, Obama transition team manager and founder of Ethos Water, and Elliot Hoffman, co-founder of Just Desserts who runs New Voice for Business. In addition to talking about the need for a new political voice for progressive business, Jonathan announced some exciting and inspiring new initiatives the Administration is making in the field of social innovation.

Jonathan GreenblattJonathan Greenblatt: What’s happening inside the Obama administration is completely aligned with what SVN members stand for. President Obama is big on civic engagement, national service, and social entrepreneurship. He emphasized the idea of social innovation, about looking for partnerships between non-profits and business to drive an agenda of change for the country.

One early idea of the Administration was to create a White House Office of Social Innovation, that could provide clear leadership and focus a consistent voice for change. This office was just created last week! The CEO, Sonal Shah, is a social entrepreneur herself who founded an organization sending service volunteers to South Asia, and who was also a CSR manager at large global firms like Goldman Sachs and Google.org. The office’s second in command is a fellow of Ashoka. These are people from this community who get it.

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April 24, 2009 at 2:28 am 1 comment

LOHAS consumers most likely to use social networks

A colleague tweeted this new research to me this afternoon:

From The Environmental Leader:

LOHAS consumers most likely to use social networks.

Excerpt: Marketers wanting to reach those in the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) segment might turn to social networks and online communities. These consumers are more likely than all others to be engaged in online communities like Facebook, MySpace and others, according to research from the Natural Marketing Institute.

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April 21, 2009 at 1:34 am Leave a comment

Welcome to SVN IMPACT, our new blog

Welcome to SVN’s new blog, SVN IMPACT! We’ve launched this as part of our new digital vision, in an effort to share more stories from SVN’s innovative leaders, with each other and the wider world.

Why another blog? We know our members are busy so we’ve focused on where SVN provides unique value.  SVN IMPACT will:

  • Aggregate the best stories, news, connections, and IMPACT from our community
  • Enable us to share content, photos, videos, and opinions that come from our real world events
  • Provide content more often, in real time, with a more personal voice, with more voices contributing
  • Connect with other member connection tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to meet people where they are

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April 16, 2009 at 6:42 pm 1 comment

20 Simple Steps to Sustainability

Wait. A. Minute.

What does that headline say again? Have I just promised that your enterprise can attain sustainability in 20 easy steps?

You know better, right? You know, don’t you, that sustainability is an aspiration, a path, not a truly achievable goal (at least not in today’s misbegotten economic system)?

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, and you recognize that my headline was merely a sneaky way to attract your attention, allow me to list — yes, 20 — simple steps you can take in your business or nonprofit organization that will help nudge you along the road to a sustainable future.

Now, don’t get all red in the face if you start reading the list and you see you have to make it pretty far down before there’s anything about the environment. This list is adapted from my book, Values-Driven Business: How to Change the World, Make Money, and Have Fun, co-authored with Ben Cohen.

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March 18, 2009 at 2:36 am Leave a comment


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