Giving Compass’ Take:
• Stanford Social Innovation Review takes a look at how start-ups in the philanthropy space can scale and the best ways to reframe government adoption.
• Gaining the trust of government isn’t easy, but this article gives some sound advice on how to work toward better collaborations, which includes working backwards from initial goals.
Nonprofits involved in areas that address basic needs like education or health often expect that if a project or intervention is successful, the government will ultimately adopt and manage it for the longer haul. For a project to reach its potential scale and sustain impact over time, many view this as the most realistic end game. Conventional wisdom holds that governments want fully formed, tested versions of programs or interventions so that it can easily scale up social entrepreneurship.
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But is this really accurate? Recent evidence suggests that even after these “adolescent” innovations successfully pass through randomized controlled trials (RCT) — the highest bar for evidence — only a handful ever reach meaningful scale or lead to policy change.
At STIR, we believe programs are most enduring and effective when they are delivered in partnership with governments from the outset and fully integrated into social systems. To reach this point, we’ve made many mistakes, and our painful lessons may help others undertake a similar journey:
- Lesson one: Begin at the end. Start by thinking about your goal, and work backward from there.
- Lesson two: Cost really matters.
- Lesson three: Working well with governments is itself a core competency.
- Lesson four: Adopt an “insider-outsider” approach.
Perhaps it’s time for a new approach — a turn away from the “lean startup” lens we normally apply to social entrepreneurship—and to rethink the image of the rugged entrepreneur going it alone. This new mentality would promote “lean collaboration” with governments: An approach based on mutual commitment, co-creation, iteration, and — on both sides — a big dose of humility.
Read the full article about social entrepreneurship by Sharath Jeevan from the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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