Charitable Giving: The Emergence of the Social Entrepreneur

To some, the concept of a social entrepreneur is something of a contradiction in terms, rather like that of an accommodating banker or an understanding boss. While it may seem that the principles which drive entrepreneurial success are far removed from those which characterize charitable giving, this misunderstands the positive influence that innovation and enterprise can have on a charities performance. In fact, social entrepreneurship is an important factor that drives many charitable ventures, giving the tools to an individual to innovate and put a vision of helping people into practical and beneficial use.

What a social entrepreneur does is recognize a social issue and innovate a way through which to help or resolve it. Then, by utilizing profit from an alternative business, they fund a venture to achieve their goals. The significant difference between this and a purely business venture is that their success is measured through the building of social capital, as opposed to earning revenue and profit, while teaching and educating in the process. While this does not necessarily mean that a social entrepreneur cannot make profit all through their ventures (they are business men at hart after all), their work is usually part of the voluntary or nonprofit sector.

There are many social issues that are significant in modern society, but some stand out as especially relevant at this current time. Poverty, climate change and the use of sustainable energy and produce are suitable examples, as these not only feature in contemporary communities but will also play a part in those of the future. As with many issues the solution lies in education and learning, and reaching out to the next generation of adults who can understand and help to tackle these problems. With this in mind, it is important for a social entrepreneur to first engage their target market and then empower them to make a significant difference.

With regards to engaging youngsters, modern trends suggest that interactive online games are an especially suitable option. You only have to look at Facebook as a prime example, where their free to play online games proved crucial in helping the site become the most visited online resource ahead of Google in 2010. Game designers Zygna suggest that by the end of 2011, 52 percent of Facebook users (approximately 260,000 million) will play at least one interactive game a week, and they have certainly proved to be a great way through which to draw individuals together in a single place and create revenue through real or virtual advertising.

Combining the vision of educating children with the benefits of free online games is not particularly difficult, even in a charitable venture that is not profit driven. It is simply a case of making the games both educational and relevant, and the main task of the social entrepreneur is to bring game designers and players together in their envisioned sense of community. If they can do this successfully, then two things will happen. Firstly, the troubleshooters of tomorrow will be enabled to effect social change, and secondary to this, cynics can finally stop sniggering at the idea of an entrepreneur generating anything other than a fistful of dollars. So why not read more and make a difference today?

Remember, we live in an age where social issues such as poverty, climate change and sustainability are on the rise, it is important that the younger generation are made aware of these to become the problem solvers of the future. The social entrepreneur has a role to play in this, as it is the application of selfless enterprise that can help to effect social change.