13 September 2007

Innovation: Lucy Bernholz & "B Corporations"

I've been following with interest Lucy Bernholz's discussion about the idea of a hybrid "B Corporation," that mixes the social values proposition of the non-profit sector with the results-oriented, business-like approach of the for-profit sector. The goal is to create "a new designation for commercial enterprises that actively seek to produce social and environmental benefits along with profits."

Working in the nonprofit sector for as long as I have, I can attest to the description Lucy provides in her post from Tuesday of this week. It's hard to move toward sustainability when you are relying on OPM and can only provide a values exchange as return on their investment. That's why so many nonprofits (or citizen sector, if you don't want to be defined by what you're not - ugh) organizations struggle, chase the money, or just can't muster the tools to meet the high standards of accounting and transparency that we've demanded of the for-profit sector.

"Why is it so important? Everyone who has ever worked in, volunteered for, or donated a nonprofit organization knows how hard it is for these entities to raise the money they need to do their work. By creating a new type of corporate designation, organizations that focus on social, environmental goods will gain access to new kinds of capital. Once there are a few successes, the capital markets will shift accordingly. New types of financial products, new access to capital for public benefit organizations, and, eventually, perhaps, a new norm for fiduciary responsibility."

This is an innovation worth exploring, and I hope more people will join the conversation about how to move in this direction.

Read the full post @ Philanthropy 2173

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