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What Does Social Entrepreneurship Have To Do With the Study of Nonprofit Management?

Entrepreneurship and nonprofit leadership are often viewed as two separate career paths. On one hand, entrepreneurs seek to maximize profits. On the other hand, nonprofit leaders are responsible for raising money and awareness to solve a social issue. However, the entrepreneur and the nonprofit leader are more alike than they might realize. Both are visionary leaders with a skill set that allows them to inspire others, create opportunities, and generate value.

An advanced business degree in nonprofit management can equip professionals with skills in both business and nonprofit sectors so they can leverage both. Let’s examine social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and how the two can go hand in hand.

What Is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is a for-profit business model that strives to impact the world positively. It still focuses on the core ideas of innovating, creating value, and generating a profit, but it also has a dual goal of improving society. A great example is a company that donates 20% of its profits to a specific cause. In this sense, social entrepreneurship complements nonprofit leadership.

Let’s break down the comparisons between regular entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and nonprofit leadership.

  • Social Entrepreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship: A regular entrepreneur focuses solely on creating value by posting a profit, whereas a social entrepreneur prioritizes creating value for society first and economic value second.
  • Social Entrepreneurship vs. Nonprofit Leadership: A social entrepreneur uses a for-profit business to achieve their goals, while a nonprofit leader relies on donations and the generosity of others.

That said, these three leadership types overlap in a few major ways. In particular, all three require that an organization inspires others to believe in the mission and lead the organization to success. On top of that, all three require professionals understand the financial implications of running an organization, including accounting, paying taxes, and reporting to shareholders.

In many cases, a lot more is involved in running a successful organization than people might think, which is why many social entrepreneurs will choose to study nonprofit management and vice versa.

Different Types of Social Entrepreneurship

According to Net Impact, there are four types of social entrepreneurs:

  1. Community: These people seek to serve the needs of a community through ventures such as job creation or developing new buildings. They are usually individuals and focus on a small geographical region.
  2. Nonprofit: Nonprofits can vary in size and are much more interested in social gain than material or financial gain. These entrepreneurs want to use their skills to enact change and do not necessarily care about making money.
  3. Transformation: This type of entrepreneur creates a business that meets an unmet need by the government or other businesses.
  4. Global: These entrepreneurs attempt to completely change societal structures to solve global issues. They tackle the world’s largest problems, like education or getting access to clean water. Examples include the largest nonprofits or businesses, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A social entrepreneur will often start small as a community entrepreneur. Then, over time, they get experience working for different nonprofits of all sizes. Eventually, they may create their own or take over an existing one.

Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits

The main reason social entrepreneurship is a valid component of a nonprofit management MBA is that studying social entrepreneurship can offer new perspectives to help you achieve your goals.

Again, social entrepreneurship uses a business system to improve society, while a nonprofit relies on fundraising to achieve the same. These organizations use two different highways to arrive at the same destination. An advanced background in both industries will surely give you more opportunities to succeed.

For example, let’s imagine that a social entrepreneur and nonprofit leader sit together for a coffee where they both share details about their life with each other. The nonprofit professional would be able to learn the intricacies of running a for-profit business, which includes techniques like marketing and advertising. The nonprofit leader could then leverage these new techniques at the nonprofit.

On the other hand, the social entrepreneur might learn how to leverage donations, connect with the community and run events, using these techniques to improve their business.

Learning More About Social Entrepreneurship

For both career paths, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will put you on the track to success. An MBA will make you a more attractive candidate when you enter the job market and provide a wide range of knowledge across many different spaces, while skills in the nonprofit sector will help you understand community and consumer base motivations.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent’s online MBA in Nonprofit Management program’s Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability course answers two main questions: who are social entrepreneurs, and what does it take to be successful? In addition to social entrepreneurship, students will learn the fundraising process, the pros and cons of different classifications — such as 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) — and the common partnerships between nonprofits and businesses.

An advanced business degree with a focus on nonprofit management prepares graduates with the knowledge to evaluate advantages and strengths of entrepreneurial or philanthropic strategies.

Learn more about the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s online MBA in Nonprofit Management program.

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