How Government is Different Than Business

The United States recently elected billionaire businessman Donald Trump as its 45th president. Trump has no prior experience in government, and campaigned in part on his business track record. Voters seemed to like that, apparently thinking that government needs to run more like a business. While government can certainly learn from business, it’s important to...Continue reading

Fully Funding Your Nonprofit

Nonprofits often receive funding for providing a specific service, but not for the organizational infrastructure that supports the service. Running a food bank or crisis hotline is crucial work. Who is going to pay the rent, phone bill, and liability insurance needed to provide such services? Donors have historically avoided funding “overhead.” Understandably, they want...Continue reading

Scale: What’s the Difference Between Growth and Sustainability?

As I examined in a previous post, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter thinks that profit is the key to scale, even for nonprofit organizations. Lack of profit might be what keeps social enterprises from reaching the scale necessary to make a difference in the world. A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Four Approaches...Continue reading

Business Solution to Poverty: Hello Tractor

The book The Business Solution to Poverty argues against non-profit development and for scalable, business-like approaches to end poverty. When I reviewed the book, I saw a lot of practical wisdom in the argument, but also wondered how many such approaches could live up to the challenge. I think Hello Tractor could make the grade.Continue reading

Redesigning unequal cities

“If we want our cities to do more than simply expand haphazardly to accept their new residents, it’s time to start planning.”

Do they teach bureaucrats marketing?

I admit this post’s headline can sound a bit snarky, but it reflects a legitimate curiosity that struck me recently. After all my posts here about a lack of marketing know-how in the public and social sectors, I started wondering if public and social leaders are ever introduced to marketing concepts.

Twelve Marketing Questions for Politicians and Candidates

It’s primary election season in California. Sometimes we compare elections to the corporate hiring process, talking about “the best person for the job” or “tossing someone out of the office.” Extending that comparison, the campaign process becomes analogous to interviewing candidates. In my voter’s pamphlet (with its awful governmental page layout), several candidates emphasized their...Continue reading

Scale: Considerations for Reaching Large Audiences

Part of the marketing challenge for public and social services is scale. To be fair and equitable, public services should be accessible to all of the public. There are obvious logistical challenges to serving all the public (consider the ability to deliver a letter to any and every address in the country). But as a...Continue reading

Scaling micro hydro power in Malawi

A recent story from the Business Innovation Facility about the MEGA project touches many of the themes of this blog: how to distribute affordable energy to rural communities living off the grid at the bottom of the economic pyramid. It also raises an interesting question about scale.

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