Helping Social Innovations Scale


Donors are intent on applying the same metrics they use in their business ventures to the organizations they support. Ability to scale is necessary for achieving high impact, the ideal outcome for both donor and organization. However, the nonprofit sector is not currently designed that way. Stanford Social Innovation Review examines why social innovations fail and what we can do about it.

Their research shows that social innovation faces three key scalability roadblocks: access to consistent funding, a fragmented ecosystem, and gaps in talent:

  • Donors seem to get on board at the early stage when an idea is new and exciting. But access to consistent growth capital is challenging. These organizations need partners, not just funders, who will stick it out with them through the long haul.
  • What's more, breakthrough innovation is difficult to achieve alone. The nonprofit sector remains relatively isolated; there is a lack of incentive for cross-sector collaboration. That's where donors can help, often having the autonomy and financial freedom to engage other key players.
  • Highly specialized talent becomes necessary as an organization grows. An entrepreneurial mindset isn't enough to navigate the complex ecosystem and build powerful partnerships. An emphasis must be placed upon training, compensation, and retention to maintain strong teams. 

We've seen how successful the for-profit sector can be with the right systems and support in place. Now we must help build a similar infrastructure for social programs that stand to make the biggest impact. Donors have an important role to play here. LEARN MORE