I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: The Bridgespan Group Helping America's Social Sector Thrive
The Bridgespan Group is the strategic social innovation consultancy that has made huge strides in helping America's non-profit sector gain breakthrough results on the most important challenges facing society. Since 2000, more than 270 of America's 1.4m non-profits in poverty, healthcare, education, environment and sustainability have called on this consultancy to help maximise their impact in the delivery of services or political advocacy.
Bridgespan's is a spinoff from Bain & Company, one of the world's leading management consultants, who has recently been in the news because of its Mitt Romney association. Bain & Company wanted to create something different in its approach to supporting the social sector, something that went beyond the general pro bono work that consultancies normally offer. So it created The Bridgespan Group, as an independent non-profit that focused exclusively on the social sector. Jeff Bradach managing partner, says, "We wanted to bring a top notch strategic set of ideas and tools to organisations and leaders that would not otherwise have access to them." Bridgespan has been the subject of two case studies by Harvard Business School.
One of Bridgespan's success stories has been the work it did with the National Resources Defence Council, one of the most influential environmental organisations in the U.S. where it developed the Council's climate strategy that helped put climate policy on the Congress agenda! Non-profits occupy a unique position in America, where the government often provides grants to organisations to deliver services on its behalf. Between 1990 and 2000 U.S. charitable giving nearly doubled to $275bn annually, but this soon was affected by the dotcom boom and bust. However, private giving climbed back up to $291bn in 2010, though non-profits are still very reliant on and vulnerable to government funding.
Unfortunately, now funding threat looms as spending cuts dig deeper to make up the shortfall in the US national debt of $15.5tn. Non-profits are being asked to do more with fewer resources and there's a severe pinch in all sectors, and things are thought to get tougher in the States; but it's not just here where times are hard. Globally there's a recession, with countries in debt and banks disappearing. Not-for-profits worldwide are being affected.
So, Bridgespan's real test will be how to create not just business plans for these U.S. not-for-profit organisations but survival strategies to sustain these organisations that are the backbone of American society and politics. The bottom line is that the social sector internationally needs tactics to stay afloat in these uncertain times.
Photo Credit: The Bridgespan Group Website