the grass is greener on the internet

Putting Innovation and Social Enterprise into Action

The National Innovation Festival, though not perhaps as grand as the name might suggest, is still proving to be extremely interesting.

The Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (of the University of Adelaide) is running 5 free sessions (including some excellent food) during May around technology, innovation, social enterprise and best practices in project management.

So I only heard about this session the day before, and went in with mixed expectations, but there were a lot of insights on social venture funding, innovation and subversive ways to maintain magazine subsciptions (print isn’t dead!).

Some interesting take-aways from each speaker:

Steve Jones, a manager at Bedford Industries

Social enterprise might be Not For Profit, but it’s also Not For Loss.

Stop being needy, and instead work at delivering value and beating your competition. Bedford Industries does not use the fact that they employ the disabled as an excuse to have sub-standard quality management. Instead they put management practices in place to accommodate it.

You should be able to look at your customer’s values and draw from each one a way that your business works towards them.

Tony Heinrich, CEO of Boystown (providing employment and long-term training/mentoring for young people having issues)

If you’re going to ask for money from the government…having worked there previously really helps.

Always address criteria and policy when dealing with the government, and try to learn ‘public service speak’.

Chris Ellis, part of a foundation trying to create a sense of community in Broken Hill

It’s still possible to get sponsorship without having deductable gift recipient (DGR) status. Having said that, it’s a matter perseverance, finding the right interest groups and letting small contributions add up.

(Her organisation is providing interest-free loans to promising businesses that will help the town develop. It provides a tipping point, a vote of confidence, for them to succeed.

Adelaide could learn a bit from this.)

Graham Wakelin, founder of InBusiness magazine (it’s a South Aussie thing)

Print isn’t dead. It’s about engaging your readership in different ways. (Top managers told Graham they didn’t want to subscribe to his magazine because they didn’t have time to read it. He offered to put their phone number in. They subscribed and offered more money.)

There are three levels to touch customers; as an individual, as a professional, and as an organisation.

There’s still three more events to go, and though I think they could do better with promotion they’re well worth attending.


Why everyone should work in an NFP
November 14, 2008, 9:35 pm
Filed under: 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ogilvy made a statement that all marketers should get experience in direct marketing, and that you can tell who has that experience and who doesn’t.

I really believe that every business person should have experience in a not for profit.

You can tell who has that experience and who doesn’t.

Sasha Dicter wrote a manifesto on what fundraising for a NFP means to him. One theme of it is that you need to be able to tell a story. In being a ‘fundraiser’, he is the ultimate evangelist of his cause, an uber-marketer if you will.

One of the NFPs I’m involved with is AIESEC – the largest organisation in the world run entirely by students. We do youth empowerment: a global internship program, personal and professional development, and leadership experiences. But every dollar that we need – to run conferences, training sessions and send students on exchange – has to come from raising partnerships.

When we go ‘fundraising’, we’re not raising funds but goodwill. It’s a precious commodity and it means we don’t squander it. We take care of our corporate partnerships, because if we don’t have them we have nothing.

And I really believe that we end up being better businesspeople because of it. I see students who are maintaining better client relations than some ‘professionals’ – if they’re getting amazing results with few resources as volunteers, what do you think they will achieve when they enter the workforce?

Working in an NFP seems to give you less credibility because you don’t get paid as much, if at all. But they are building something out of very little. When you don’t have much, you use what little you have as efficiently as you can.

Brains on Fire makes the same argument for making the most and creating conversations.

‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ made the same argument for wealth creation.

[Edit: Also see this post by Morgan Coudray.]

Start with less and you learn to create more.

Get experience in a not-for-profit.

It makes you a more effective businessperson.

You get to make a real impact; worth more than a tax-deductible $2 donation, another name on another petition or a badge on your Facebook profile.

Why haven’t you done it?