How we define mission-driven organization may be a bit broad, but it’s for three good reasons. Times have changed, as have the challenges we face in our world.
Society’s previous plan of attack was through government, not-for-profits, or corporate philanthropy. How’s that been working out for us?
According to William Eggers and Paul Macmillan in their book The Solution Revolution, not as well as possible. In it, they make a case for what they call a burgeoning new economy where players from across the spectrum of business, government, philanthropy, and social enterprise converge to solve big problems and create public value.
“Where tough societal problems persist, citizens, social enterprises, and yes, even businesses, are relying less and less on government-only solutions. More likely, they are crowdfunding, ride-sharing, app-developing, or impact-investing to design lightweight solutions for seemingly intractable problems…By erasing public-private sector boundaries, they are unlocking trillions of dollars in social benefit and commercial value.”
Why should it matter who is trying to solve a problem? From the encroaching threats of global warming to ensuring access to basic healthcare, let’s focus on the solving, not who’s doing it.
It’s Not About You
One of the more compelling factors influencing how we define mission-driven organizations is focus. In traditional marketing, the focus is on the transaction. How many? At what price point? With what margins? Even for for-profit social enterprises, the focus is not on the transaction. It’s about what—together—the company and consumer can do to move the needle on an important issue.
The most effective nonprofit marketing embraces that dynamic as well. Over time, many nonprofit organizations can suffer from focus creep, where the message shifts to their work with little reference to how their supporters can feel connected to it.
This dynamic is what makes our Ask, Build, and Connect methodology so effective for nonprofits and social enterprises alike.
If experience has taught me anything, it’s that everyone and every situation has lessons to teach if you’re open to them. We have seen how our experience working in the for-profit sector has improved how we support traditional not-for-profit organizations. And to say that we have learned important lessons from not-for-profits is a gross understatement.
By focusing exclusively on social enterprises or not-for-profit organizations, we would lose the ability to transfer learning from one type of organization to another. The way we define mission-driven organization in and of itself helps us better serve them and their causes.
Because of blurring boundaries, a common focus, and the ability to transfer learning from one group to another, we are here to help anyone on a mission beyond increasing shareholder value.