Scaling CSI programmes

‘Scaling social impact’ is an increasingly popular concept, but what does it mean and is it achievable in CSI? How can CSI programmes balance tight budgets with achieving audacious outcomes? In this article I discuss when it is appropriate for a CSI department to consider scaling its social impact and provides some suggestions on how to achieve this.

This article was published in the Corporate Social Investment Handbook (2014) by Trialogue Publications.

Social innovation: not a magic pill but a process

Social innovation is not a magic pill, but a process. Making a social innovation work is not simple. But when it does, it might be tempting to believe you can just duplicate the process again and again and it will keep working. But it’s not that simple. Let’s look at the reality of scaling, and some crucial questions you need to ask before trying. In this article I discuss the reality of scaling social innovation.

This article was published in the May 2014 edition of Inside Out – the magazine of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Effective governance in nonprofit organizations

All non-profit organizations have governance structures. In some organizations these structures are a source of insight, leadership and inspiration. In others they are a source of ineffectiveness, frustration and conflict.

This article from July 2013 presents the three primary roles of these governance structures (e.g. govern strategically, govern responsibly and manage compliance), as well as the key factors that correlate with the effectiveness of these structures. This article challenges the conventional view that boards should focus on compliance, and that this increases social and financial performance.

Has Business Strategy become a Cargo Cult?

Imagine it’s 1946 and World War 2 has just ended. Both Japanese and allied forces have withdrawn from many small Pacific Islands. Military aircraft no longer drop supplies to their soldiers on remote islands, and the flow of goods to natives has ended. Local shamans have inspired their followers to build “pretend” airfields, control towers, and straw soldiers. Some of the more inspired local leaders have dressed their followers in imitation uniforms and now parade the fake soldiers on runways. A cargo cult has been established in an effort to trick airplanes to land and drop supplies. This is ritual mimicry married to a poor understanding of what is really going on.

It is no surprise that most strategic planning processes closely resemble cargo cults and these misunderstood rituals tend to be unsuccessful and provide little value to companies. In this article from June 2012, Dr Roger Stewart and I discuss both the failure of strategy and what organizations can do to improve their strategies.

New life in South Africa’s nonprofit sector: a personal story

The non-profit sector in South Africa has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. This is as I both hoped and feared. It is as I had hoped because young people, new ideas and a fresh energy have entered this sector. It is as I had feared because a number of established organizations with rich histories have failed to adapt in time and have subsequently suffered severely – some have even been fatally wounded. Overall, it feels that springtime may have arisen after a long winter.

Here is my personal story from June 2012 to help illustrate this change in seasons.

What exactly is a social enterprise?

The emergence of the phrase “social enterprise” is a positive sign of change. However, the term is often defined in varying ways. In this article from June 2012, Dr Roger Stewart and I define “social enterprise” and discuss how traditional charities can start the journey to becoming social enterprises.

Business in society: let us talk the same language

The role of business in society is receiving increasing attention. There have recently been many articles on corporate social responsibility, corporate social investment and corporate philanthropy. However, there has been much confusion and inconsistency in the use of these terms. In response, Dr Roger Stewart and I propose some definitions that we hope will reduce the confusion.

Strategic Acumen: Natural Talent or Something You Learn in an MBA?

Have you ever wondered why some organizations fail to succeed, despite hundreds of hours of strategic planning sessions and a multitude of ambitious MBA minds behind the steering wheel? We already know that these organizations need capable leadership. New research also suggests that organizations need leaders with strategic acumen, and that strategic acumen is much more like an innate ability, than something one learns at college.

This article from August 2008 dispels various myths about strategy and emphasizes the need to choose talent carefully.

Businesses Can Take the Lead in Setting up Social Enterprises in South Africa

We need to see more social enterprises in South Africa, particularly since they can help to strengthen our economy and fight poverty at the same time.

However, this is only likely to happen if businesses continue their involvement in social issues and work with non-profit organizations to establish social enterprises. This will also benefit the businesses themselves (as we will show), and provide an alternative approach to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Corporate Social Investment (CSI).

This article from May 2008 discusses how businesses can increase their involvement in society and use social enterprises to further their social agendas.

The coming recession: What does this mean for South African nonprofit organizations?

The global economy is on the brink of a downturn, possibly a recession. Turbulence and opportunity lie ahead; our currency is under pressure and may continue to devalue. What does this mean for South African non-profit organizations? How should they respond?

This article from March 2008 provides several recommendations for non-profit organizations to consider.

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