Georgia Levenson Keohane's first book, Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century (McGraw Hill, 2013), aims to shed light on the "systems and ecosystems that allow social entrepreneurs in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors to flourish." Below, I've highlighted some sections most relevant to nonprofits and their investors.
At the outset, she clarifies the difference between social enterprise and entrepreneurship. True social entrepreneurship focuses on how nonprofits identify and create solutions to social problems, rather than their transformation into businesses. So, simply generating earned income from services doesn't quality an organization as being entrepreneurial. On the other hand, social enterprises are created with the intention of generating financial returns along with social or environmental benefit.
Keohane divides her book by three sectors: nonprofit, private, and public. Her look at the early days of social entrepreneurship includes case studies of nonprofits that led the way, such as Teach for America, City Year, Jumpstart and the Freelancers Union. She explains why each of these programs was entrepreneurial, innovative, and business friendly, and also takes a look at investors of each. The entrepreneurial spirit started by this new breed of charities also produced a new breed of foundation, and even altered the way traditional foundations went about their business. A chapter on how endowed foundations engage in socially responsible investing looks at the increasing role of program- and mission-related investments to fund certain elements of nonprofit work. For example, when the Freelancers Union created the for-profit health exchange Freelancers Insurance Company, it was primarily funded by PRI loans from the Ford Foundation, Prudential Social Investments, and the newly formed New York State Health Foundation.
In her analysis of the private sector, Keohane examines impact investing, which was outlined in a series of meetings in 2007-8 by a range of investors from green tech to microfinance to community development who together devised the term to describe the "common characteristics of their work, namely, for-profit social purpose investment."
Regarding public sector involvement in the field, Keohane uses the example of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's efforts in New York City to improve welfare reform, his efforts to overhaul the NYC Department of Education through Joel Klein and the concept of competition, and his creation of the Center for Economic Opportunity to address poverty.While it's impossible to capture the entire scope of this book here, Keohane does convey the complexities of this field and how efforts in the three sectors all borrow from one another to address huge social problems. She also looks to the future by introducing the concepts of "collective entrepreneurship" and "venture collaborative entrepreneurship" which both seek more collaborative forms of social problem solving.
For additional resources, consult GrantSpace's Knowledge Base Article "What is social enterprise?" Also, search the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature for a list of books, articles, and papers found in Foundation Center libraries that address social entrepreneurship.
—Rob Bruno, Catalog/Reference Librarian
Foundation Center—New York