Funding for Social Entrepreneurship

Fundraising [Photo by HowardLake] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Social entrepreneurship funding is an important issue that needs to be considered from the start of any new social venture. Social entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to get started need to consider their options for funding well in advance, as it can be challenging to secure this funding. In order to do so, you have to be able to convince social investors of the potential benefits your concept has to offer.

There are a variety of grants and loans available to social entrepreneurs which can help them bring their ideas to life, and looking at grants is the best place to start. Grants are most commonly offered by specialized organizations, foundations and non profits which are focused on certain social issues including health, environment, education and the like. In order tor to apply for a grant, you will usually have to fill out an application for funding and include your business plan along with a case statement.

One of the goals of social entrepreneurship is for the business to be sustainable and thus self-funding, but realistically not all of these projects will be able to generate all the financing they need, especially when they are just getting started. That’s why it is often necessary for social entrepreneurs to seek a combination of grants and loans for start up and continuing operations.

Tons of money [Photo by pfala] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Some social entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have the help of friends and family in terms of funding, but if this is not an option you will need to look to organizational sources. The Enterprise Funding Database, an online directory of social enterprise funders, is a good place to begin your research. If you are willing to put in the research, you will find that there are a plethora of funding options available to finance social entrepreneurship ideas.

One blog, for example, has compiled a list of over 130 different organizations that provide social enterprise funding in various forms. One of the most common forms of funding are fellowships, which are offered by organizations such as the Ashoka and the Acumen Fund. Ashoka is the world leader in social entrepreneurship funding, offering generous fellowships, online competitions and a wealth of resources for social entrepreneurs. The Skoll Foundation is another leading funder of social entrepreneurs that offers fellowships and posts other funding resources from a variety of sources on its frequently updated social networking site SocialEdge.

Some universities can also be a source of funding for social entrepreneurship ideas. For example, the University of Northampton in the UK has become recognized as a leader in in social entrepreneurship thanks to its dedication to the field and the opportunities it provides to its students. Specifically, then university goes well beyond theoretical concepts by offering all of its undergraduate students the chance to work in a social enterprise after graduation. In addition, it allocates its Higher Education Innovation Fund to be actively involved in funding social enterprise in the UK. The fund is used to provide seed grants to social entrepreneurs, which are available to individuals regardless of whether they have attended the university. Applicants are judged based on the quality and potential of their ideas.