Social entrepreneurship and the fragility of humans

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

I would like to share some simple thoughts of mine that might relate to some of our interests in helping others in need.

I might be wrong, but I view all humans as fragile beings. What I mean is that we all have the potential of breaking , of slipping away from the roles we normally play (such as parent, brother, employee, star singer in the church choir). I believe we all have the very real potential to come crashing down.

Human society is based on most of us very rarely, and sometimes maybe some of us never, slipping away from the roles we are supposed to be performing. Most of us, most of the time, are very strong as we perform our life obligations and opportunities. This is good.

However, through the duration of a life fully lived, there is usually some tragedy, and some of these tragedies temporarily derail us. Some of life’s tragedies bring a storm within us that interferes with the “us” that we normally are. For example, the death of a person very close to us might take the breath out of us and require that we take some time to recover. At other times, other losses might have a similar impact on us.

Although some people seem to give the impression of being a “tough guy” (or gal), I speculate that they aren’t. I speculate that they are very much like the rest of us.

I think that I have faced the fact that I am fragile, and this has had impact on me. Since I know I am fragile, I sense a closeness between myself and those who are suffering. I see myself in those who are suffering, and I believe this is one factor that might encourage social entrepreneurship.

Experiencing difficulty in life is no fun, but how valuable it can be. Even the painful experiences bring something of value. In addition to general learning, difficulty often brings humility.

To those of you who are right now experiencing deep difficulties in life, I encourage you to realize that this situation will probably not continue. To those of you who are highly successful and on top of the world, I encourage you to realize that you will probably sometime experience great difficulty. The good times and the difficult times are equally important parts of life.

I am thankful for the many existing social entrepreneurship projects, and I am thankful for the projects to help others that will exist in the years ahead. People in need helping people in need. This is very special.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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How to innovate

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Social entrepreneurship involves the use of innovation to find new ways to help people in need. Sometimes, innovative ideas come easily, but often, they don’t. So if we know a category of people we want to assist, how do we get innovative ideas?

Some experts believe that people are either born curious and seek new ideas, or they are not. This perspective suggests that genetics determine whether a person is innovative or not. However, I disagree. I believe we can place ourselves in situations that encourage out-of-the-box thinking,

The situation in which one functions on a daily basis seems to have influence on creative ideas. An assembly line job that is not intellectually stimulating, and involves simple, repetitious actions for eight hours a day, is an example of a situation that will probably not encourage innovative thinking. In contrast, other jobs involve little repetition of behavior, and require continual intellectual challenges. I believe these situations, that require an active mind to survive in that kind of environment, encourage innovative thinking.

My point is that the situations in which we live can influence innovative thinking. Although genetics may be an important factor, situation is also important in encouraging or discouraging creative ideas.

If you want to be more innovative in your quest to become a social entrepreneur, here are my suggestions.

1. Learn all you can about the category of people you want to help. (This is extremely important, for it is the content to which innovation will be applied. Deep understanding of the people you seek to assist is crucial.)

2. Try to continually have these people in some level of your consciousness. You are seeking a new approach to assisting them.  Try to have them on your mind at least a part of every day.

3. When the opportunities present themselves, place yourself in unusual environments. Seek stimuli that you normally do not experience. The purpose is for you to “see” an association between ideas you previously have not seen – and that perhaps nobody else has ever seen.

Examples of placing ourselves in different situations include:

A. Take different routes to work and home. Watch the different surroundings closely. Think about the people and situations you observe.

B. If you listen to a certain type of music, listen to something different.  If you like rock music, listen to country western (and vice-versa). Carefully listen to the words and emotions being expressed.

C. If you listen to conservative talk radio or TV, listen to liberal talk radio or TV (and vice-versa). Absorb ideas represented. Try to feel what the people talking are feeling. Try not to be judgmental. Try to understand the ideas different from your ideas.

D. If you watch a certain type of movie, watch some that are different than you would normally watch.

These are just suggestions. Maybe the above ideas are too much of a sacrifice for you. If so, I understand. Our personal life is sometimes a refuge, and we don’t want to toy with what helps us recharge to be able to face the next day. But if you are willing to step away from your refuge, growth will likely occur.

When I am working on a project related to my work at my university, I have difficulty not thinking about it. It seems to always be on my mind, sometimes floating back in some deeper consciousness, but always not far from my primary focus. Two of my new ideas found in the last few years came when I was listening to shows to which I normally don’t expose myself.

One was a show on the operation of a motor, and the other was a cooking show. Separated by several months, I had “ah-ha” moments. All of a sudden, I saw an association between the operation of a motor and the issue I was struggling with associated with my project. In another situation, I had an idea about a project on which I was working that was stimulated by how ingredients came together to make a cake.

Having innovative ideas is not often easy. My suggestions above can be fun, and maybe they will be helpful. I hope so.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A reflection on this blog that started 3 years ago

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

It was about this time three years ago that, with the help of some kind people at my university, I started this blog. I’ve missed posting maybe five or six weeks over those three years, and although I have stressed on some weeks, mostly this blog has been fun.

In the beginning, an IT person was available when a technology problem emerged, but the original person left my university, and I have no IT assistance now. The new person in that position recently responded to me in an email after I requested help, “I don’t have the bandwidth to help you.” That was his creative way to tell me he is too busy with other obligations, which I understand.

I’m pretty much on my own now, but a friend of mine and I are talking about him helping me with the blog. He is a social entrepreneur with a strong spirit and a good mind. I hope to be sharing more about this possible development soon.

The main reason I have had fun with this blog is that there is so much social entrepreneurship work to do in our world. Thus, I perceive possible value in what I write. Social entrepreneurship is using innovation to find new ways to help others in need, and there is need in every direction I turn. The need I see is close to me, as in my community, and far from me, as on other continents. The need is anywhere there are people.

My excitement for this blog and the work it promotes is increased because of my interaction with my students. In my normal university teaching, I am in contact with around 400 students a year taking my courses in grant proposal writing. In addition, I have around 40 students a year in a course on social entrepreneurship. These students share with me their excitement to help others, and this brings me strength. I guess we encourage each other.

I am also energized by hearing from people who are starting social entrepreneurship projects or want to start these projects. I think our world is on the verge of an explosion of social entrepreneurship work, as many nations experience an expansion of their middle class – people who have skills, some extra money, some free time, and often a desire to help others.

I have lived for 65 years, and I have never found any of my other pursuits to have the potential for such meaningful impact on others. Social entrepreneurship work is a win-win-win situation. First, we help the people for whom we build the projects. Second, we strengthen our society by strengthening people within our society. Third, we bring meaning to our lives as builders of projects to help others.

Wow.

I feel so fortunate to have had the experiences that have brought me to this blog. In addition to my training and study (that bring me understanding of program development and grant writing), I am thankful for some difficult times in my life that have brought personal growth and greater compassion for others.

If a few readers of this blog have found something of value, this makes me happy. I plan on continuing to write, hoping I stumble onto something that has meaning to some people.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Step 13 – Project Development Report

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Hello. I am continuing brief discussion of the 15 steps in the Project Development Report, which is a document I encourage everyone to write before starting any project to assist people in need.

I had previously covered steps 1-12. Those are:

Step 1: Identify the people you seek to serve.
Step 2: List and describe the unmet primary needs of the people you seek to
assist. 
Step 3: Identify the unmet needs your project will seek to address.
Step 4: Investigate and report on the extent to which existing agencies are responding to the needs your planned project will seek to address.  
Step 5: Explain how your plan to assist the category of people you have selected is different from services currently being delivered to these people.
Step 6: Identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
Step 7: Attempt to make improvements in your planned project based on identified weaknesses.  
Step 8: Construct one goal and a few objectives for the program you want to deliver.
Step 9: Identify all important tasks that must be performed in order to make the project a success.
Step 10: Identify staff to perform the important tasks identified above, and explain the division of responsibility. Distinguish between paid staff and volunteers.
Step 11: Determine the total cost of your planned program with detailed breakdowns of costs and documentation of those costs.
Step 12: Identify sources of income with expected amounts for each source (sales, donations, grants, fund raising, any other sources of income).

I now want to briefly discuss Step 13: Explain the details of how, once your program is operating, you will periodically document that your objectives are being attained – that your program is accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish.

Documenting what we say we will accomplish is very important. One of the early steps for any social entrepreneurship project should be to state one or a few objectives (Step 8 above), and those objectives are very important for Step 13.

Objectives are statements of intent, what we intend to accomplish. The strongest objectives always focus on client outcomes, how our clients benefit from our project. (Please feel free to refer to my earlier blog post on Step 8 in the Project Development Report, in which I provide some details about how to state strong objectives.)

For Step 13 of your Project Development Report, you should explain in detail how you plan to test your objectives after your project has been operating for some time. The first key to Step 13 is to start with well stated objectives. The second step is to explain specifics of what will be done to test the objectives, when it will be done, and who will take these responsibilities.

One benefit to taking the time to write a strong, detailed section on how you will test your objectives is that you can use much of this writing in grant proposals you will likely write. When you seek grant funds, many funding sources will require that you have a section in your proposal that explain in detail how you plan to test your objectives.

So in addition to Step 13 in the Project Development Report helping you think about this important issue as you build the details of your project idea, much of this writing will likely be used later.   

Many small and mid-sized nonprofits do not understand the details of testing high quality objectives. If you construct strong objectives that focus on client outcomes and plan appropriate details of how you will test those objectives, you will be exceeding the somewhat low standards of many existing nonprofits.

Thank you for reading my small blog. 

Best regards. – Keith 

                                                        © Keith Campbell

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Step 12- Project Development Report

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

 Hello, readers. Thank you for taking the time to follow any part of what I write in this blog. I am simply trying to share ideas, some of which I hope you will find to have some value.

A few weeks ago, I stepped away from covering the 15 steps in writing an important document, one that helps us “see” various strengths and weaknesses in our project idea. I call this document the Project Development Report, which is similar to a business plan. I need to return to these steps to finish a brief discussion of all 15 steps.

I had previously covered steps 1-11. Those are:

Step 1: Identify the people you seek to serve.
Step 2: List and describe the unmet primary needs of the people you seek to assist.              
Step 3: Identify the unmet needs your project will seek to address.
Step 4: Investigate and report on the extent to which existing agencies are responding to the needs your planned project will seek to address.  
Step 5: Explain how your plan to assist the category of people you have selected is different from services currently being delivered to these people.
Step 6: Identify strengths and weaknesses in your plan.
Step 7: Attempt to make improvements in your planned project based on identified weaknesses.
Step 8: Construct one goal and a few objectives for the program you want to deliver.
Step 9: Identify all important tasks that must be performed in order to make the project a success.
Step 10: Identify staff to perform the important tasks identified above, and explain the division of responsibility. Distinguish between paid staff and volunteers.
Step 11: Determine the total cost of your planned program with detailed breakdowns of costs and documentation of those costs.

In this post, I would like to briefly comment on STEP 12: Identify sources of income with expected amounts for each source (sales, donations, grants, fund raising events, any other sources of income).

Obtaining adequate funds for your project will probably be one of the most difficult tasks. I assume that not securing adequate funds is the main reason that nonprofits fail.

I encourage everyone to start small projects in the beginning. Small projects are easier to start and manage. Starting small requires less money than starting big. If you are successful starting small, then you can become big when the time is right.

Step 12 depends on our speculation about money brought to the cause, and we might have a tendency to be optimistic. After all, we are excited about the project idea, and we may expect others to become excited. But we can’t assume that others will be so excited that they will give money. Donors might be few, and grant funding agencies might find other projects to fund.

Is there a way for you to conduct a survey to determine if people will donate money? If this is possible, the information would be useful. For example, if several people who are members of the same church are starting a project to feed inner city homeless, they could probably conduct an anonymous survey of church members to get an estimate of donations. In many situations, however, there is no handy organization that will be sensitive to our cause and allow us to conduct a survey. 

Another idea to counteract our possible over-optimism is to ask a few people we know to help us estimate money brought to our project.

One idea that is too often overlooked by nonprofits is to sell something. Can clients create any item for sale? Youth programs might sell a craft or art created by some of the clients. Some nonprofits run thrift stores to supplement donations and grants. Our creativity can be important at this stage of our project planning. Depending only on grants, donations, and fund raising efforts is a weaker position than generating some income from sales.

Small. Start small…just a suggestion.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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The best ideas don’t come from professional social entrepreneurs

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Hello, colleagues. In a recent post, I mentioned that I believe the best social entrepreneurship ideas come from regular people living their lives, rather than professional social entrepreneurs. I would like to discuss this further, and then pose a challenge to all of us.

For a project to be classified as “social entrepreneurship,” there must be some innovation, and I believe that every normally functioning person 14 years and older can think of new possibilities for helping some category of people in need.

So my minimum standard for being able to have social entrepreneurship ideas is not high: being normally functioning, and 14 years or older. Really – I believe all of us can do this – think of an improvement to help a category of people in need. We might need to get away from the TV, our emails, and other distractions. We might need to literally or figuratively go sit under a tree, but we can do this.

I am excited about what seems to be fact- that professional social entrepreneurs do not account for most innovative ideas to help others. Normal, everyday people are the greatest resource for these new ideas, and these people are all over the world!

You and I, as normal, everyday people, experience and feel much. We “see” and live the life of everyday people. We experience some difficulties, and we see others close to us experience these difficulties. It is on this level that most social entrepreneurship ideas and projects emerge.

So I have a challenge for you, and for me. Let’s separate ourselves from our normal distractions for 30 minutes to think about a category of people in need we care about. What improvement might be created to better help those people?

This is how grassroots social entrepreneurship starts.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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What it means to assist others in need

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Give a person a fish, and make him/her dependent on us.

Teach a person to fish, and make her/him independent.

To what extent am I encouraging others to become dependent on us when I say “assist others in need”?

I want to share that I do not seek to encourage any people to become dependent on other people. I strongly suggest that we should assist others to become independent and strong.

In one of my recent social entrepreneurship courses, students were studying model social entrepreneurship projects from different parts of the world. I received a question from one of my students that surprised me. He asked if the project he was studying that provided free meals to homeless people in an inner city area was creating dependence. He suggested that we should be teaching these people a trade rather than promoting their dependence by giving them free food, and he used the “give a fish” analogy.

After my surprise at the question, I became aware of the important issue being raised. This was a wonderful question, and I greatly appreciate the question being asked.  

It seems that there are different levels of need that are associated with the ability of people to help themselves. An example of a person with a low ability to immediately help themselves is a husband or wife whose spouse or child has suddenly died. In some cases, people in this situation crumple onto the floor, and they literally need help walking. These are highly dependent people when in this distraught state, and people who assist them are not seeking to create dependence. Those who help are attempting to intervene during this extremely difficult time in order to allow the person to recover and again become strong.

This is how I view all social entrepreneurship projects: We step in to assist people who have a true need, and the intent is to intervene during the difficult time. In some situations, the difficult time lasts longer than others. For example, an abandoned baby will have years of dependence on others. A project working with teens to reduce teen suicide may involve several years working with the same cohort of young people.

The specific situation determines what is done and how long it is done. In my promotion of projects to help others, at no time is creating dependence an intention. The intention is to intervene to help people who are struggling.

To return to the homeless example – It seems appropriate for a project to provide food to homeless people who have little or no food, while hopefully other projects will attempt to assist the homeless in other ways, such as psychological counseling and job training.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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