A new form of social capital is rising. It’s a hybrid model—part venture, part vision. And there are new strategic philanthropists rising along with it–hedge-fund managers. More and more, these business savvy philanthropists are getting good at communicating their sponsorship and charitable goals to the public.
It’s pretty easy to be cynical about this trend. Arguably, hedge-fund managers are part of the devolution of the global economy. But what’s intriguing about social enterprise models emerging from the rubble is the fact that the charities best able to make a personal connection with the public attract the largest donations.
Having a strong message is not enough. It’s about delivering that message across the organization, down into the grass roots and across advocate channels. Tall order? No doubt. But some non-profits are using social media to get the word out at a fraction of the cost. I predict that social media will stimulate a renaissance in creative content coming from charities.
The last century was built, in part, by captains of industry who believed in being generous. I remember discovering the simple genius of Andrew Carnegie’s quest to build the public library network. If a town wanted a library, he built it for them—as long as they agreed to pay the overhead in perpetuity—staff, heat, lights, books. Today, America has more public libraries than McDonald’s stores. We’ll see if this next wave of social venture can leave a similar legacy.