The power of social innovation | Jeff Snell | TEDxUWMilwaukee

The power of social innovation | Jeff Snell | TEDxUWMilwaukee



may I ask how many of you have made a charitable contribution in the last year yeah just about everybody anybody will more than a million dollars nice I'll never hurts to ask you never know um I love the charitable sector my journey started about 20 plus years ago I moved to southeastern Wisconsin for a grad program I needed a job and my interviewer read my resume and saw that I'd worked in the US Senate and assumed that I knew everything about writing proposals and getting grants and federal money but I knew precisely nothing except that I really needed the job so I took that and that little part-time proposal writing gig morphed into a 20 plus year career in the charitable sector which has just been amazing a wonderful journey I'll share a little bit with you so it pains me a bit to share with you that a lot of what I learned in the last couple decades is that the charitable sector is facing some really significant challenges but I'm also very excited about a pivot and the pivot is in the direction of this thing called social innovation it's a movement away from our management around the problem more of a conventional charity approach and instead focusing on root causes of problems and then building the models and that's where the social entrepreneurs come in social innovation a field dedicated to solving social problems the social entrepreneurs the actors in the field that build these really cool models we've got a first bottom line financial sustainability got to make a living but you also achieve a second or a third bottom line a beautiful social impact I have some examples for you so this is what I mean by the pivot away from conventional charity in the management and instead focusing on building solutions and mind you I'm not poking fingers at all charity right I mean I know there's basic knee there's emergency relief that's not what we're talking about I think we're talking about sort of that big fat Center where there's a lot of management around the social problem and I'd like to confess part of my journey in that spirit you know after that part-time proposal writing gig while and it's way down I had a series of sort of professional advancement and within a decade I was actually running the largest nonprofit organization in the state that focused on youth development and the course of seven years we went from 8,000 to 30,000 members raised a hundred million dollars and a board of 83 thank you I had 83 bosses and that my friends is how you end up pale bald and skinny and middle-aged it was an amazing time being flown around and talk about all the fundraising success and what was working so well and then when I thought things couldn't get any better I got hired to build a private foundation with assets at a billion dollars it's a pretty thin air in American philanthropy I was also a very heady experience and what I came to realize that there are challenges all around on both sides on that philanthropic equation see when I was that president and CEO high fly and flying around talking about all the success in building this largest of 25 hundred chapters that's what we grew to be the largest in the country I was focused on market share because then I could come back to you and I could say hey that about that charitable contribution helped me out I've got more kids than ever I need more money than ever and I wasn't actually focused on solving the problem an anecdote one day a little boy ran down the hallway and an excited staff member walked up to me and you said hey Jeff see that little guy I had his dad and his dad's dad here and I thought oh wait a minute our mission statement is to produce productive responsible caring citizens why are we celebrating multiple generation same family right same neighborhood deep poverty little life skills all that mattered to me he was a member like his dad and his grandfather that was my market sure that was my mindset and it led to raising more money so then when I went to the private foundation side the other side of the philanthropic equation I thought awesome now I get to work with amazingly successful people right they're super bright and I'm gonna learn their best practices how they come together and throw in on the models that really achieve social impact and get after a root causes and solve the problem so as the New Kids on the Block we threw this nice little hoity-toity soiree and all the who's who and the philanthropic sector showed up most of the major players anyway one gentleman has a very storied figure in a charitable sector in southeastern Wisconsin thanked us for a lovely evening and then on his way out the door he turned him and he said you know the best part though I got to meet a lot of people that have read about and heard about for years and come to find out a lot of them make the same types of charitable contributions that I do and a lot of the same types of organizations I thought about that I turned him and I said wait a minute you guys get together right I mean grab a beer get a cup of coffee water cooler conversation about the stuff that's really working well best practices and he said I don't do that really the observation went further that in fact the individualism that had led to such great success in the marketplace amassing really neat fortunes that same individualism carried over to their charitable roles to their philanthropy this was a very fragmented space and donors were not much inclined to actually be working together a little incentive to do so so the individualism was actually resulting in very questionable impact what you haven't heard me say and maybe this is a little bit of a surprise that the charitable sector is challenged because of the absence of money friends we will donate as a country more than three hundred thirty-five billion dollars next year that is a number that dwarfs the economies of many countries in the world and those little brown stick figures that's you because individuals account for 240 billion of the 335 and there's this thing called the generational wealth transfer that's happening for you Gen wise and Millennials you've got a lot of financial resources coming your way as grandparents and parents passed away these resources fall into your laps serious influence with a lot of resources you also haven't heard me say that we need more charities did you know there are not 1.5 million Charities in the US that's a number that's grown by 50% in the last dozen years or so think about that but let's put a little finer point on it in Milwaukee County in the year 2000 there were about 4,700 Charities the year 2000 4700 Charities in 2010 a decade later over 7,000 70 percent growth and the number of charities in Milwaukee County and one decade so I ask you how come with this robust growth of the charitable sector right in our backyard how come 30 percent of the residents here live in poverty just as one simple maybe oversimplified indicator of a real social problem I wonder if it's because of how we look at it right the mindset around same old same old traditional charity and building more management around the problem or working to actually solve it and it's a difference moving away pivoting it away from the traditional sometimes patronizing pat on the head of you know we're just going to take care of you it makes us feel good we're not going to ask anything of you but the message is because we don't think you have much to offer you can actually lead people in a worse psychological state with that message but to engage them into being part of their own solution a different kind of equation so what does Social Innovation look like when I talk about the solving of a social problem it does not look like this this is soap its innovative soap I don't know what that means I don't know that the dimples actually create any kind of outcome different than the old-school bar of soap we could probably talk for a few minutes but the value of the social value of people using soap if you've trapped on everything but there's really a big difference between this type of innovation than social innovation here's a real model that came online up in the Fox Valley just a couple years ago Riverview Country Club was the oldest private golf club in the state or it was because they went bankrupt some years ago a non-profit executive running a conventional charity much much like me I actually worked with her on this she got the socialization bug her old conventional charity model said treat him and Street him that was the group think these were working with people from alcohol and other drug abuse programs AODA homeless people and women from shelters treat him and Street him what that meant was a degree of recidivism the model actually relied this conventional charity relied on some systemic failure because then she'd come back to you and say I need more money than ever she could build a county or whomever was backing up the service being provided so when she got the Social Innovation bug and thought I can't do this anymore I got to figure out how to take these assets like a bankrupt golf course but include moving a golf course from lower utility to higher utility remember that's the real definition of entrepreneur one who undertakes and moves from lower value to higher value low utility to high utility but to engage people and that to the social innovation the social entrepreneurship so today Riverview Country Club is where Rio Gardens the former fairway urban farm the people working the farm from the planting or yeah the planting the cultivating the harvesting of those beautiful organic greens and selling them to restaurants recurring revenue first bottom line those are the same folks that used to be treated and streeted and now they're part of this job training program for people in need in a park setting the amount of bee colony they sell the honey year-round and that former clubhouse is actually now a special event venue sold out all year innovate social impact social value breakeven in cashflow just two years old so no more you know hat in hand help us out we're not going to make payroll increase capacity beautiful self-sufficiency those clients usually in the cycle of recidivism off to good-paying hourly wages and yes salaried positions with benefits back with their families pretty cool stuff 35,000 volunteer I was in the community bring this model online that's its own beautiful social value how can we get three five thousand people to agree on much anything let alone this kind of a model and it's already been a finalist for national award and social entrepreneurship the Manhattan Institute what about urban education I don't know about you but boy it seems like we got a real challenge across the urban centers in the u.s. so is there any hope well Cristo Rey is a model that targets the types of kids for a college prep experience that the least likely to be successful these are the kids that are facing the biggest barriers deep poverty way behind academically language barriers etc right and this model Cristo Rey says to them you want this coming at it and they do they work for it literally every Friday they go to work not to school and the money they earn supports the school that's part of the financial sustainability but the kids now aspire so when you talk social value if you're the first in your family to understand what it means to actually show up at work and hold a job and they make the clear connection between wow if I work hard academically now and pull myself up I can aspire to this and you've got context to aspire in life innovative social impact beautiful social value 10,000 kids at roughly 25 schools across the u.s. right 100 percent of these kids high school diploma 97% post-secondary by the way they persist once they get into college they persist at a rate greater than the upper-class white kid coming from multiple parents of college-educated pretty cool stuff largest high school network in the country now and I'm really excited to share with you is that we got this model to Milwaukee next year there'll be a crystal ray school in Milwaukee gen-y is all over this stuff this is one of the things I find most exciting cuz I've been teaching for some time you guys have wrapped your heads and minds around this stuff in some beautiful ways I want to live a long time to watch this and watch you riff and iterate a friend of mine came up with a real concern around good slavering parts of the world right his name is Julius so Julius is building an app you can scan with your smartphone the tag on that sweater that you're looking to buy and it will tell you the likelihood of childhood slavery in the manufacturing of the sweater now you know water as we sit here up to Blake mission primarily the scarcity of it parts of the world right so pick a country Zambia and instead of watching people usually women labor in the heat of the day to fill up a jug carried on their head back and have to boil it and sanitize the water now you ride your bike you fill up that reservoir in the back and on the way back to your village the pedaling motion induces filtration you show up with gallons of fresh drinking water that's the container by the handlebars you guys own this stuff you're wired 24/7 you're looking around the world then problems I couldn't imagine when I was your age you want to bring your whole selves to work you're building for profit and nonprofit models I get after a root causes of social problems you've got gift skills and abilities for this moment in time for these challenges for a purpose I'm excited to watch you step up so if you find this kind of stuff inspiring we thought the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would think so too so we took a turn we packaged up a couple hundred case studies of the kind of things I'm sharing with you average Jane's and Joe's around the world that rolled up their sleeves built an innovative model to solve a social problem we went to the Gates Foundation we said you know people inspire people we'd like to inspire the next generation we can be innovative and entrepreneurial to social benefit not just private value capture solely well I got a phone call and he said yeah about that see we got a thousand proposals from 85 countries and we can only pick a handful but you're one of them this is real check it out fixes you org fixes you org is real thanks for the partnership with the New York Times and some great case studies I think I'm looking in the eyes some people whose stories I'm gonna be reading them out I hope so so there's a big difference between the management of a social problem conventional charity models and actually building models that solve the problem we don't need more innovative soap we need to pivot away from the management and come alongside the social innovators and the social entrepreneurs that want to do this amazing work two hundred forty billion individual contributions generational wealth transfers it's a lot of influence coming your way Gen Y Millennials I'm excited to see a step up I'm asking you to consider your role in this movement a social innovation let's go change the world why not you

One thought on “The power of social innovation | Jeff Snell | TEDxUWMilwaukee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *