Re-Districting of Nonprofit Boundaries and Migration of Leaders-to-Be

In my second post (The New Philanthropists), I explored how some philanthropists are using technology to re-imagine philanthropy. Technology also seems to be fueling social-change efforts that transcend the boundaries between the non-profit and for-profit worlds. 

Take Advanta’s Ideablob, for example, which is a monthly competition where entrepreneurs and small business owners can submit their business ideas for a chance to win $10,000. The Ideablob community votes on the best ideas. Anyone can register and participate. A surprising number of entries are for nonprofits or nonprofit-minded ideas, ranging from community services to arts-centric activism to youth engagement and beyond.

Entrepreneurs who either seek to affect social change or structure their businesses in a way that does less (or no) harm to the world are becoming more prevalent and more prominent. People are becoming less accepting of the notion that making money and doing good are mutually exclusive – and thus the boundaries between for-profit and non-profit are beginning to blur.

As I read this morning’s Washington Post article about a report that examines the looming leadership crisis for nonprofits, I was struck by the following quote by Patrick Corvington, a co-author of the report: “Next-generation leaders are finding ways to get involved in social change and do good work. But they’re finding ways to do that outside of the sector.”

Technology seems to be a common denominator in this phenomenon. The new scales of collaboration, transparency, participation and efficiency made possible by new technologies are expanding the options available to young leaders looking to shape the world in positive ways.

To what extent is the blurring of boundaries between non-profit and for-profit feeding the impending leadership crisis for nonprofits? Are there ways that nonprofits can use technology to re-imagine how they operate so they can better nurture and support the leaders-to-be in their midst? What role can foundations play in exploring these issues?


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