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The three sectors in our economy — for-profit or business sector, nonprofit or social sector, and government — are becoming far less distinct, and, in many ways, are merging. Especially the distinctions between the for-profit and the nonprofit sectors. For some of us, this is hard to see because the “three-sector” thinking is so embedded in our consciousness, it’s like the water we swim in.
While upcoming elections may return social sector supporters to leadership positions, this deconstruction will take years to unwind, and we can expect continuing swings of the pendulum between two entrenched opposing parties. In sum, we can’t expect the emergence of a strong, European-style publicly funded safety net anytime soon.
So how can we make any progress on social justice and equity, and cures for disease and poverty, and improvements in climate and pollution, and all the other monumental challenges before us? It’s a new kind of organization entirely, one that emerged to fill the void of government devolution—a hybrid, if you will, a type of nonprofit that, culturally and functionally, is indistinguishable from a for-profit and capable of solving problems at scale.
In the past three decades, we have seen hybrid nonprofits achieve breakout rates of growth, influence, and impact. Organizations like City Year, KIPP, Teach for America, charity: water, and, most recently, Treehouse have proven that, with experienced leadership, the right strategies, and disciplined execution, altruistic organizations can truly move the needle on our most serious social challenges.
Leaders in the social sector are taking notice: Just recently, the Alliance for Strong Families and Children, an influential policy organization funded by the Ballmer and Kresge foundations, published a report calling on social sector organizations nationwide to completely rethink their strategic and financial models to enable far more scale and impact.
Read the full article about the sectors converging by Donald Summers at BoardSource.