l’ll be discussing the “Fourth Sector” – the sector composed of for-benefit organizations – with host Tony Martignetti on Nonprofit Radio this Friday, January 16, at 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT.
For-benefits are a diverse class of organizations that share two main characteristics: 1) they are primarily driven by social and/or environmental purposes, and 2) they earn a substantial portion of their income through business activities. They include sustainable businesses, social enterprises, municipal enterprises, community development corporations, social businesses, and a wide range of other models.
Nonprofits should recognize the importance of understanding and responding to this new “sector” and movement. More and more, individuals (particularly those of younger generations) are becoming sector agnostic in their actions to support social good. They don’t care if they are supporting nonprofits or for-profits so long as the organizations appear to be making a difference to society and/or the environment. Nonprofits must recognize this new form of competition for funds and for talent. And they must recognize the increasing potential for collaboration and alliances with these fourth sector organizations.
I’ll also be sharing some lessons learned from attending and participating in the Mapping the Fourth Sector gathering in Washington DC on January 15, 2015.
This invitation-only gathering will bring together a select group of leading practitioners, scholars, economic developers, government officials, impact investors, funders, and social entrepreneurs to explore the fourth sector and its potential for generating economic, social and environmental impacts. We will examine a range of questions from varying perspectives, with a view toward identifying points of consensus and divergence, and a bias toward collaborative action.