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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What does it take to be a social entrepreneur?

Posted by on Jun 9, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

There seem to be different models for what social entrepreneurs should do. I have read several times that social entrepreneurs address the biggest world social problems. This is a noble approach, but I promote a different model, one that encourages people to address the problems in their local communities. 

Grassroots social entrepreneurship is what I encourage, finding new ways to help any local category of people about which we care. Some people want to work in another nation or continent, and that is fine. If you do this, I still encourage you to build a grassroots, local project by collaborating with residents of that geographic area.

There are several large, wealthy nonprofit organizations in our world doing wonderful social entrepreneurship work. Our world needs the influence of these powerful organizations that contribute such massive good. But there is a chair for just about everyone at the social entrepreneurship table. My model of social entrepreneurship encourages normal, everyday people who have a fire inside themselves to step forward and start just a small project. Small projects are easier to start and manage.

Do we need to be wealthy?   No.
Do we need to be powerful?   No
Do we need a college education?  No

What does it take to be a successful social entrepreneur?

-          A passion to make a difference
-          An identified social issue associated with a category of people in need
-          An idea for how to improve assistance to that category of people in need
-          Humility as we build our project and eventually work with the people we  seek to assist             
-          Often, the development of some skills, such as project development  and grant writing      (These skills are easy to attain.)

I have observed that the best social entrepreneurship ideas don’t come from professional social entrepreneurs. The best ideas come from regular people living normal lives, who experience difficulty, or observe others experiencing some difficulty. It is those of us who are in the trenches of living life who have the best ideas to help those who are in the trenches of life.

Sometimes, people who have made very bad decisions in their lives and have a “bad history” think they are unworthy of being a social entrepreneur. But I believe their deep understanding of whatever situation was a part of their past is a big asset for projects that seek to help others who experience that same problem. People in this situation have an advantage over many others.

Any thoughtful, responsible person can be a successful social entrepreneur.

The world is open to us. How exciting it is to have the opportunity to make a difference!

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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How some religious organizations might benefit from social entrepreneurship training

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in grant writing, non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

I view religious organizations as a phenomenal force in our world, and I believe more good has been done to help others in need by religious organizations than by any other nongovernmental organizations. I also believe that most (maybe all) religions share an important tie with the primary focus of social entrepreneurship: helping people in need.

In this blog post, I would like to share how some religious organizations might be even more effective in helping others. Below, I suggest three ways in which building some social entrepreneurship project skills might be helpful. (Although I know that all religious organizations do not refer to their organization as “church,” I shall use the word church.)

1. Some churches might improve the strength of some of their outreach projects.

I don’t intend to be critical of the massive good existing projects are doing. In fact, I am in awe about the good being done by churches. However, many of our projects to help others are not as strongly structured as they could be. There are some fairly simple skills involved in the academic area of social entrepreneurship that can be helpful.

I won’t take the space to provide details here, but a quick example involves setting objectives for the project that focus on measurable client outcomes, and then carefully evaluating our projects using those measurable client behaviors. A common mistake is to determine the effectiveness of our projects based on “agency” behavior.  (The “agency” would be the church). For example, the effectiveness of a tutoring program in a low-income area that has a low high school graduation rate might be measured  by number of tutoring sessions conducted (this is an agency behavior) rather than an increase in graduation rates (this is a client behavior). What I am suggesting is that the acid test of the success of our projects should be on client outcomes, not on agency activity.

I am sure that some churches focus on client outcomes, but I assume that many churches might be a little lax in their focus on carefully structured and measured client outcomes. My point here is that some existing church projects might become even stronger by applying some social entrepreneurship skills.

2. Some members of a congregation may collaborate to form a nonprofit organization separate from their church.

Here is my idea: A few (maybe three to five) committed members of a congregation who share a passion to help a category of people in need ban together outside the umbrella of the church to form a secular nonprofit corporation.  A benefit of this is to gain access to grant money, which translates into easier funding to help clients in need.

Many grant funding sources do not fund religious organizations, but they will fund a nonprofit started by religious people. This idea is legal and ethical. It is a way of maximizing a part of the mission of one’s church.

3. By exposing social entrepreneurship principles to church members, some sparks may occur.

Churches are incubators for social entrepreneurs partly because churches instill caring and service.  

A young person seeking a meaningful career, a middle aged person considering a change in careers, a housewife whose children have left the home, a newly retired person – some of these people will catch fire when exposed to social entrepreneurship skills and opportunity. Some of these people will start projects to help categories of people about whom they deeply care when they are shown how within their grasps these projects are.

_____

I am trying to give away (this is free) training in the skills to start projects to help others in need. I have taught two free five week courses available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet, and I am planning one more in October, 2014.

For absolutely no financial cost, my university (Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, USA) and I will share the step-by-step skills to start projects to help people in need.

We are setting up a new web site to publicize this free course, and I will share the address in the future. If you have any questions for me, you may email me at kcampbel@fhsu.edu .

I believe that people in religious organizations are uniquely positioned to help others in need, and I hope my free October course will be helpful.

Thank you for reading my small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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