Philanthropy Daily Digest

  • Jeff Trexler takes his anti-social entrepreneurship discourse to the Chronicle of Philanthropy in a well written article. He nails it when he writes: "If social enterprise is to be sustainable, it must do more than call people to mimic business. Stopping there is akin to saying that the secret of a happy life is to hit your ideal weight. Instead, social enterprise fulfills its potential only when it uses business methods to transcend business itself."
    (tags: philanthropy)


  1. Jeff Trexler says:

    Thanks for the link & the good words!

    Just to clarify, I’m not anti-social entrepreneurship. Social enterprise has positive and negative aspects, as I explore further elsewhere, especially here.

    However, the qualities of social enterprise taken in themselves are a distraction from the systemic problem that is my primary concern: a fundamental lack of understanding of who we are. A recurring symptom of this system flaw: turbulent swings in collective identity as we redefine ourselves in terms of—-or against—-the latest markers of success.

    This is, to use the latest cliché, unsustainable. It’s also counter to what social enterprise claims to represent. Civil society, the welfare state, NGOs, scientific philanthropy—the previous fads and bubbles in do-goodery all shared the same flaw.

    Calling attention to this problem is not anti, at least not from my perspective. Rather, it’s part of a rigorous SWOT analysis, a feature of business planning at which social enterprise all too often sucks. As a punny corporate speaker might say, take out the weaknesses and threats from your strategic thinking and all ya got is “SO?”

    Of course, the social enterprise movement isn’t the only culprit here, any more than so-called traditional nonprofits. Indeed, the commercial world shares the same problem, as does the human race. Studying social enterprise in relation to—-not as inherently superior to—-other attempts to model human behavior provides the best hope for discovering what they all represent.

  2. Thanks for the clarification Jeff. It was sloppy to say you were “anti-social entrepreneurship”. Questioning the practices of a discipline should not be taken as a condemnation of the discipline. I, of all people, should get that given the response to my community foundation column!