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 a business can become a social enterprise

This 1-page Strategy Brief shares 8 strategies that businesses can use to integrate elements of a social enterprise into their thinking and operations. This also shows how it is possible to adapt one’s legal form to introduce social enterprise elements.

How a lean cost structure can improve financial sustainability

Like most commercial organizations, non-profit organizations and social enterprises should strive to keep their fixed costs as lean as possible. Those that do this properly will be more likely to survive financial shocks and stresses, and create dynamic and sustainable organizations.

While many of these organizations have already achieved this state, this article targets those social entrepreneurs who believe their organizations have become too expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis, or are about to enter a risky and uncertain financial territory.

This article shares some important lessons I’ve learned through assisting these organizations to develop budgets, build financial models and review their financial structure.

How to become a sustainable non-profit organization

This presentation investigates the meaning of “financial sustainability” and why non-profit organizations are feeling the pressure to become “sustainable”. It also highlights the importance of getting stakeholders to embrace these changes that are sweeping through South Africa’s non-profit sector, and the risks of not doing this properly.

The presentation shares 12 practical shifts or tactics that I’ve seen non-profit organizations use to improve their financial sustainability. The presentation ends with an outline of how you can develop your own sustainability strategy.

I developed this presentation for a “masterclass” on financial sustainability that I facilitated on 1 December 2017. This formed part of the Drivers of Change Awards, which were hosted by the Southern Africa Trust.

Ten characteristics of a social enterprise mindset

This one-page Strategy Brief identifies 10 characteristics of successful social enterprises, and demonstrates how all non-profit organizations and businesses can learn how to behave and think in this way. This brief also differentiates between the mindset and business model of a social enterprise.

The many facets of social enterprise

I see “social enterprise” as a multi-faceted concept, much like a gemstone will appear differently when examined from different perspectives. Social enterprise is a “concept space”, rather than just a “business space”.

This approach has served me well in my consulting work. It has given me a framework and language to explain things and support organizations on their journey. It has provided social entrepreneurs with increased strategic clarity.

This thought-piece unpacks the six principle facets of social enterprise as I see it.

Six income tactics that all social enterprises can pursue

This one-page Strategy Brief explains how versatile the legal forms of social enterprises in South Africa can be. It shows 6 tactics for generating income that all social enterprises can use, regardless of whether that form is for-profit or non-profit.

What do we mean by “organizational sustainability”?

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa are desperately striving to become “sustainable”. I believe that organizations should have a broader view of “sustainability” and be precise when discussing it. This will make it much easier for these organizations to develop “sustainability strategies”.

This short article explores 10 facets of “organizational sustainability”.

Ten principles that guide my strategy work

My strategy work is guided by a set of philosophies or beliefs that have evolved over the past two decades. These principles permeate all my strategy work while giving it a unique flavour. They help me to get the results I desire. Here are the top 10 that stand out.

Thinking about income generation and profit in a non-profit world

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises that wish to design sustainability strategies need to have clarity around the concepts of income generation and profit, and how to achieve them.

This article aims to debunk some misconceptions around income generation, equity investments, loan finance, and the profits or surpluses that these organizations may generate or receive.

It explains that income and profit emerges from how an organization transacts with its customers. This approach will require organizations to learn new skills, practice new habits and adopt a different mindset. Although embarking on this process may feel intimidating at first, the benefits of being in a stronger strategic and financial position should make it worthwhile.

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