An interesting debate on separate sides of social enterprise. This debate and policy development is also evolving in Canada.
“But proponents, like Jed Emerson, a pioneer in developing what he calls “blended value investing,” contend that many of the new organizations do not fit neatly into what have been the accepted models. “Over the last 10 to 20 years, there’s been a host of organization managers and financial investors saying the traditional approach to investing in this bifurcated framework of for-profit and nonprofit doesn’t capture what they’re really trying to achieve,” Mr. Emerson said. “Alternative structures like this allow investors and entrepreneurs to pursue social and environmental impact together with various levels of financial performance.” ”
Also, more and more companies are incorporating socially beneficial activities into their core business strategies without abandoning their primary goal of making profits. Hewson Baltzell, who oversees product development for MSCI, a data and research firm known for its global indexes, said that while the number of financial investors deploying what were known as “environmental, social and governance” screens to assess investments, “most investors are still not into the double-bottom line.”
“Do you need it? No, not necessarily,” Mr. Baltzell said. “The argument for it is probably that when push comes to shove over certain issues, if a social mission was baked into the bylaws, it would be legitimate for a board to allow, in certain cases, that mission to trump shareholder value.”
But charities seeking ways to reduce their reliance on donated dollars are increasingly developing programs that could be mistaken for businesses, and for them, such a structure solves a number of headaches. It gives them access to the capital markets, allows them to pay higher compensation levels and provides potential exit strategies, all unavailable to nonprofits.