Today, much of the social development sector in India appears to be engaged with discussions around scale. The debate is likely to intensify further, as there seems to be little clarity in sight as to what precisely scaling entails, and who may or may not scale.

In fact, what exemplifies the sector at large is the fluidity of meaning even about some of its most routine concerns, like social change, charity, impact, sustainability, and so on.

It is perhaps fair to assume that the debate on social change and scalability is principally being driven by the for-profit sector’s growing engagement with the nonprofit sector. The for-profit sector is by definition a scale sector. When seeking to address social problems, it often looks at market-based or marketable solutions. Its engagement, be it from individual philanthropists, CSR foundations, or social entrepreneurs, is likely to increase the pressure on the nonprofit sector to increasingly recast its work and approach it in the former’s mould.

The argument is that the move will enhance professionalism in nonprofit organisations—evidence-based decision making, a greater focus on tangible returns, rigorous cost analysis, increased accountability to stakeholders (especially donors)—which, in turn, will ultimately translate into greater sustainable impact.

Consequently, there is a growing predilection among donors to replace ‘donation for a social cause’ with ‘capital to a social enterprise’, and command a return they can touch and count.

This trend is causing stress to many, as people in the space of social change are still trying to get a sense of why, what, how, and how much to scale.

Read the full article about social change and scale in India by Arun Kumar at India Development Review.