Stanford Social Innovation Review bridges academic theory and practice with ideas about achieving social change. Discover their opinions on social entrepreneurship through these select articles.

For more Stanford articles, videos, and case studies check out our Research by Topic section.


Collective Impact

By John Kania & Mark Kramer

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.

Winter 2011

Ten Nonprofit Funding Models

By William Landes Foster, Peter Kim, & Barbara Christiansen

For-profit executives use business models -- such as "low-cost provider" or "the razor and the razor blade" -- as a shorthand way to describe and understand the way companies are built and sustained. Nonprofit executives, to their detriment, are not as explicit about their funding models and have not had an equivalent lexicon -- until now.

Spring 2009

The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

By Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone

Many nonprofits continue to use their brands primarily as a fundraising tool, but a growing number of nonprofits are developing a broader and more strategic approach, managing their brands to create greater social impact and tighter organizational cohesion.

Spring 2012

Closing the Pioneer Gap

By Sasha Dichter, Robert Katz, Harvey Koh, & Ashish Karamchandani

More money than ever is flowing into impact investing, yet many entrepreneurs creating companies that serve the poor still find it difficult to raise capital, particularly at the early stages of their company's growth.

Winter 2013

Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition

By Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg

Social entrepreneurship is attracting growing amounts of talent, money, and attention. But along with its increasing popularity has come less certainty about what exactly a social entrepreneur is and does. As a result, all sorts of activities are now being called social entrepreneurship. Some say that a more inclusive term is all for the good, but the authors argue that it’s time for a more rigorous definition.

Spring 2007

Scaling Social Impact

By Gregory Dees & Beth Battle Anderson

Strategies for spreading social innovations.

Spring 2004

In Search of the Hybrid Ideal

By Julie Battilana, Matthew Lee, John Walker, & Cheryl Dorsey

In the first large-scale, quantitative study of nascent social entrepreneurs, researchers from Harvard Business School and Echoing Green examine the rise of hybrid organizations that combine aspects of nonprofits and for-profits and the challenges hybrids face as they attempt to integrate traditionally separate organizational models.

Summer 2012

The Networked Nonprofit

By Jane Wei-Skillern & Sonia Marciano

Management wisdom says that nonprofits must be large and in charge to do the most good. But some of the world’s most successful organizations instead stay small, sharing their load with like-minded, long-term partners. The success of these networked nonprofits suggests that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks.

Spring 2008

For Love or Lucre

By Jim Fruchterman

A veteran social entrepreneur provides a guide to those who are thinking through the thorny question of whether to create a nonprofit, a for-profit, or something in between.

Spring 2011

Freeing the Social Entrepreneur

By Chantal Laurie Below & Kimberly Dasher Tripp

Social entrepreneurs are often reluctant to relinquish control and create strong leadership teams. Unless they make this important transition, the organizations entrepreneurs worked hard to create are unlikely to scale or have the desired impact.

Fall 2010

The Trouble with Impact Investing, Parts I-III

By Kevin Starr & Laura Hattendorf

In this 3-part article, the authors make the case that there’s only one bottom line, and it ought to be impact. Impact investors need to step back and think about exactly what problem they want to solve.

January-July 2012

Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail

By Christian Seelos & Johanna Mair

The authors contend that innovation cannot be measured solely on impact, but that the continuous innovation processes adapted internally by established organizations should be considered.

Fall 2012

When Can Impact Investing Create Real Impact?

By Paul Brest & Kelly Born

Although it is possible for impact investors to achieve social impact along with market rate returns, it's not easy to do and doesn't happen nearly as often as many boosters would have you believe.

Fall 2013

Mission Matters Most

By Kim Jonker & William F. Meehan III

To thrive, a nonprofit organization must develop—and adhere to—a clear statement of its core purpose.

Spring 2014

Clear Measurement Counts

By Kim Jonker & William F. Meehan III

A commitment to impact evaluation is the mark of an organization that takes its work seriously.

Spring 2014

Fundraising Is Fundamental (If Not Always Fun)

By Kim Jonker, William F. Meehan III, and Ernie Iseminger

Overcoming a reluctance to ask people for money is a crucial step that every nonprofit leader must make.

Spring 2014