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Finish Strong! Newsletter Issue No. 1 (Collector’s Edition)

January 27, 2012

Today at 12 noon ET, we launched the Finish Strong! weekly newsletter. You can make sure you don’t miss next week’s issue by subscribing today.  

Want to sample the jet pack goodness? The text of the newsletter is below.


Issue No. 1

Collector’s Edition

January 27, 2012

Thank you for being part of this new adventure. I want you to know how much I appreciate your interest.  As you can tell, this won’t be really fancy and high faluting; it will be concise and irreverent instead.

Why You Need to Read This
It’s not easy changing the world, especially when the status quo goes out of its way to trip you up. While Friday afternoon is a tempting time to surf Facebook, I believe it’s important to finish the week strong and use this time to get ready for the coming week.  So if you want to take a break from your daily trenchwork, Finish Strong! is your chance to let your mind explore new ideas and get re-energized to accomplish what’s next on your plan.

Incubate? Accelerate? Let’s Build the Future
Startups have become the darling child of the world, it seems. Aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs, Reid Hoffmans, and Jack Dorseys are flocking to all types of places to launch the next big thing.

This rising entrepreneurial tide is touching all sectors alike. The new generation entering the work force at a time of high unemployment sees large problems needing to be fixed and has little faith in incumbent institutions’ ability to solve them. These young people want to make a direct impact in the world and more of them are choosing to launch new ventures, for-profit and nonprofit, that embrace transparency, agility, and innovation.

“I was dismayed that people my age weren’t donating to charity. Younger people had a long list of reasons why they didn’t want to donate, including that they didn’t trust charities. They didn’t know where their donations were going.” —  Scott Harrison, Founder charity: water

The number of US charities and foundations is nearing 1.3 million with combined assets of $2.56 trillion. Meanwhile, Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds in the US have $3.07 trillion in assets. That means 12% of all investment capital here is designated exclusively to for-profit companies committed to generating profit through socially responsible operations. Notably, institutional investors are the largest and fastest growing segment in SRIs.

No single company, nonprofit or individual can solve the problems facing humanity. It will take leadership from all directions converging on the social impact sector. Social entrepreneurs are leading this new wave of charities and socially minded companies. What differentiates social entrepreneurs from other entrepreneurs is their focus on solving social problems and a greater willingness to reinvest the profits into the communities they serve.

Some choose the traditional non-profit structure, others choose established for-profit models, while still others are embracing newly created corporate structures, such as the Benefits Corporation and Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C).  No matter the structure they choose, these startup founders seek to deliver value to the marketplace while helping to solve community issues.

Realizing the potential, venture capital firms, angle investors, and civic leaders have created programs to help these startups take root in the marketplace. In exchange for an equity stakes, for-profit accelerators and incubators provide robust resources and access to experts.  Y-Combinator, TechStars, and a growing constellation of others have paved the way. Fortunately, social impact startups (for-profit and nonprofit) are feeling the love, too, thanks to the Skoll Foundation, Scwab Foundation, Echoing Green, and Ashoka.

Here are three programs worth considering, if you want to accelerate the growth of your social impact startup:

Unreasonable Institute – Boulder, Colorado
 – Their marketplace is open and you can help determine who’s selected for this summer’s program. This is their third year and they keep growing. Like the mountains and being connected to a global roster of mentors? Check this program out.

Civic Accelerator
 – Just announced yesterday, the Points of Light Insitute’s Civic Incubator is expanding its program and launching one of the first accelerators focused on social entrepreneurs. We can expect to learn more as they roll the program out in the coming weeks and months.

MassChallenge – Boston, Massachusetts 
– Also in its third year, MassChallenge is open to all startups and has NO strings attached. Compete for $1 million in cash prizes, be surrounded by over 600 mentors and experts, while enjoying free office space overlooking Boston Harbor. Four of last year’s top cash prize winners were social impact startups.

What do you think about this trend? What are you doing to take advantage of it? Send me a reply with your thoughts and I can share responses in next week’s issue.

So Many Conferences, So Little Time. Choose wisely.
With the World Economic Forum happening in Davos, Switerland, the 2012 conference season is out of the gates. Thanks to Twitter hashtags and other social media, you can keep focused on building your next big thing and choose wisely on the ones you invest your time and energy in attending. Real life interactions are great. Your time is limited. So find a balance. Here’s a calendar anyone in the Social Impact sector needs to consider.  Which ones will you be attending?

Things to Ponder:
The weekend is a great time for recreation. Henry David Thoreau explored the concept in Walden and helped me understand it’s about re-creating the mind. In that spirit, here are a few links for you to let percolate in your mind this weekend. You might be surprised on the ideas you have because of it.

Why What Happens in the Bedroom Shapes the Future
Hans Rosling demonstrates visually with tea cups how world population growth will determine where your customers will live.

The Digital Revolution is Over-Hyped
BBH Labs take a contrarian view on the much ballyhooed digital revolution and says the emperor has no clothes.

How to Build Real, Meaningful Social Networks
Reid Hoffman, viewed as the consumate connector, offers tips and strategies for how you can build a strong social network.

Are You Ready for This?
You have the opportunity to play an active role in shaping this newsletter. You’ll have opinions and insights about what you read, so let me know about them. This is definitely not about one person pretending to have all the answers. Instead, I see my role as framing the conversation and helping to cross-polinate ideas.

If you like what you’ve read, please email this newsletter to someone you think would enjoy it, too. Of course, you can promote it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Until next time,

Scott Henderson
Find Me Online

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