Geoff Livingston responds to Kristin Ivie and my previous posts about new nonprofits.

Entrepreneurs look at things, see how they can be improved, tear down models, and rebuild them. So when we’ve experienced enormous successes in the for-profit world and then turn our eyes to higher causes, it’s only natural to think the same approach will work. Granted there is ego at play, but are you going to tell someone who successfully sold a business or took a company public, that they can’t win again in a different sector? Good luck with that one!

via geofflivingston.com

For Geoff, an entrepreneur and blogger, advice to slow down is like reigning in the horses as they dash for the barn. Good luck with that one. And he’s right, of course.

Having seen a few horses in this business, though, I was hoping to point out how the economics of nonprofits can work against that entrepreneurial spirit.

As a nonprofit, it can be a challenge to know if you’re making progress, much less to best organize around it.

Can you imagine this conversation taking place in the private sector?

Nonprofit entrepreneur: I want to take a fundraising job for a nonprofit that’s really changing the world. What do you think? Mentor: Be careful not to get pigeonholed. “Once a fundraiser, always a fundraiser.”

Maybe Sasha’s example here is just isolated old-school thinking. I hope so. And maybe, as Geoff says, entrepreneurial spirit and gutsy social enterprise will be what shakes up slower organizations.

But I can think of a couple of things that could help speed that day for more entrepreneurs –

  • Competitions with incubation or startup coaching (a la Y Combinator)
  • Metrics for success. Government provides some of these statistics, larger NPOs and NGOs provide others
  • Market valuation for social enterprises. For another post, but in our attention economy, this may be possible.

What else should be on this list?

Who wants to help?