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Pitch deck for customers and donors

Twice in the past week I was asked to suggest the slides to include in a “pitch deck” – a handful of slides that are used to “pitch” an organization, its programmes or products. Pitch decks tend to be fairly standardized, have a high level of design work, and make selective use of text.

I recommend 10 slides @ 2 minutes to discuss = 20 minute presentation. Here are the slides that I would include for a presentation to a customer or donor. Please adapt as necessary.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start for inspiring my thinking on this topic many years ago.

Unique opportunities for social enterprises with a for-profit legal form

A social entrepreneur recently called me for some advice.

He had started a “social enterprise” with a for-profit legal form – a private company (“PTY”).

He had managed to secure the South African licence to sell a very promising product that serves the people at the “bottom-of-the-pyramid”.

He then approached some local foundations and corporate social investment (CSI) departments for funding. They said that he had to first create a non-profit company (NPC) and then use this vehicle to submit a funding proposal. In other words, these donors were suggesting that he create a hybrid social enterprise.

We had a short and productive discussion about where the best opportunities for his business were to be found. I explained that creating a hybrid model in this instance is most probably a bad idea.

Since I have this type of conversation quite regularly with social entrepreneurs, I decided to share and elaborate upon the six opportunities we discussed.

Work on a few strategic shifts at a time

My colleagues and I recently responded to a request-for-proposals to develop a batch of complex strategies for a non-profit organization.

While developing a proposal, we wondered how this organization would able to implement all these strategies at once, or whether a more focused approach might be more appropriate. We ended up proposing an initial strategic assessment that would shape the resulting strategy work.

This short article revisits the purpose of strategy and reminds us how organizations tend to have limited resources (e.g. time, money, people, mental and emotional space) that can be deployed to bring about strategic change.

Leading “start-ups” versus established organizations

Many social entrepreneurs set up organizations in order to change the world. Those working on a “start-up” enterprise need to think differently about their organizations from those who run established or mature organizations.

While start-ups require entrepreneurs to exist in a state of high-energy hustle, established organizations require leaders who are good at building systems and achieving results through others.

Treating an established organization like a start-up can do more harm than good! It may constrain an organization’s evolution by locking it into a developmental stage. Conversely, handling a start-up (with its limited resources and unrefined approach) in the same way that you would treat an established organization would make it difficult to get it off the ground.

The wisdom is knowing when your organization has become established (it normally takes around 5 years) and then shifting your thinking and behaviour accordingly.

This article explores how social entrepreneurs and leaders should see and treat their organizations, depending on whether they are busy setting it up or whether it is already established.

Social enterprise glossary

I’ve designed this glossary to help social enterprises and non-profit organizations in South Africa think clearly about their strategies and business models.

Strategic clarity involves clear thinking, and clear thinking requires clarity of language. Many of us also rely too much on jargon, which clutters our minds and encourages lazy and fuzzy thinking.

Here is some of the terminology that I regularly use in my consulting practice and lectures, and my short descriptions of what each term means in simple English.

How to stay happy, sane and productive while working in the business of changing the world

I gave this presentation to social entrepreneurs at The Mensch Network in Cape Town on 27 February 2019. It was a very engaging discussion. I learned as much from the participants as they did from me.

This presentation contains 10 pieces of Unconventional Advice that have served me well in my career, and which have helped to accelerate my progress. The origin of this presentation was a letter that a young social entrepreneur had written to me about her anxiety about not being able to “plot a clear path into the future”. This presentation explores how careers have changed and how adopting this advice will put you in good stead for the future.

Thoughts on the Social Economy Strategy in South Africa

The South African government is busy developing a strategy to help cultivate the social economy in the country.

I’ve been fortunate to contribute to the strategic process – I’ve been interviewed several times and shared some written insights with the project team.

At the time of writing this article (February 2019), the government has commissioned a Green Paper on the Social Economy – a draft set of policy proposals for discussion. Green Papers tend to be followed by White Papers or official policy documents.

Since this strategy has been on my mind recently, I took a moment to record my thoughts and share them online and with the policy team. I’m also curious about what form you think the Social Economy Strategy should take.

Governance versus management in non-profit organizations

Poor governance significantly increases the risk that a non-profit organization or social enterprise will under-perform or close down.

Yet for some reason, many governing bodies struggle to perform their duties effectively. These mandated structures seem more interested in micro-managing staff and processes, when they should be helping to lead organizations into their strategic future.

Ultimately, when a governing body stops providing effective and foresightful oversight and starts doing managers’ jobs, then the executive management team is undermined. Blind spots start to appear in the organization’s strategy. This can be fatal.

This article will explore the differences between governance and management. It will unpack what tends to go wrong and how to fix it. It will also contain insights from a lawyer I work closely with.

End-of-year reflection for 2018

The end of another year is approaching. It has been a challenging year, filled with meaningful work, many lessons and lots of opportunity. There has also been too little time to do everything I’d intended to do.

I believe strongly in the value of reflection and always do a formal debriefing at the end of the year.

Here are some of my thoughts on 2018 before I take leave on Friday 14th December to enjoy a much-needed break. It sheds some light into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa, and things I’ve learned along the way.

Social enterprise: converging social and profit missions

Trialogue published the 21st edition of the Business in Society Handbook (formally the CSI Handbook) in November 2018.

I contributed to a Q&A on social enterprise. Read my answers on the nature of social enterprise in South Africa, the challenges they are facing, and the opportunities for businesses to partner with them.

View older writings

In pursuit of strategic clarity

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