One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for May 2013

Celebrating Social Enterprise Week

leave a comment »

F--social-enterprise-cloud-wordsThis week is a milestone – it’s Social Enterprise Week….and I bet you didn’t even know it.

Of course you didn’t – after all, it was one of the few items that you might have missed. Governor Quinn made a proclamation last week declaring this week as a way of celebrating social enterprises – businesses that take on a socially-minded mission, focusing more on stakeholders than stockholders.

Admittedly, it’s a movement that Illinois is spearheading (Full Disclosure: I volunteer for a state task force which is driving awareness around social enterprises), but as there is increasing need to deal with pressing social issues and concerns in an uncertain state fiscal climate, fostering any business growth is beneficial to Illinois….and driving socially minded businesses is part of driving overall social good. Mix efforts to drive business with other efforts to support non-profits, NGOs, and other social change agents, and Illinois has an opportunity to take lead in driving and fostering community growth.

So, how can you help celebrate this week? Consider reaching out to the Illinois Task Force. Read more about unique business forms like L3Cs or benefit corporations. Network with social entrepreneurs and innovators – for example, Panzanzee, a social
venture incubator/co-working space, holds a regular networking lunch Fridays at noon at 325 N. Huron, # 300. (It’s a brown bag lunch, but having attended in the past, I can definitely recommend making a visit)

You’ve read plenty of headlines about many of the challenges Illinois is facing… driving the growth of businesses that make an honest effort towards social benefit is part of the strategy, and is not only a smart, strategic way of doing so….it’s one worth celebrating.

Have questions, comments, or thoughts? Please leave them below…and if you wish to contact me privately, you are more than welcome to do so via Linked In or my web site’s contact page. And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

May 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

Making Social Media Engagement “Thick and Impactful”

leave a comment »

“Thick and Impactful”: two words which resonated strongly throughout Ethan

Zuckerman’s keynote at March’s Digital Media and Learning Conference here in Chicago. It’s a concept that sounds a little off, but which has great resonance for non-profits, NGOs, and other social good agents working both here and in other places around the world.

In discussing civic engagement (focusing specifically around youth), Zuckerman posits two axes along which civic engagement lies, determining how effectively people drive social change. One axis is superficial vs. impactful – whether an engagement really has an influence on changing conditions or behavior, or whether it’s merely a simple feel-good intervention. (Motivation plays a key factor in this.) The other axis is “thick” versus “thin” – is the engagement a deep, considered action, or merely a quick reflexive action. (This axis examines the individual’s involvement in the process)

One example of the difference cited by the The Civic Commons Blog is voting, which is would be “thin” (making one choice out of a limited list) and “impactful” (one person’s vote can have a greater impact on the common good. Online petitions are thin and symbolic – there really is no involvement other than filling out a few lines on a form, and there is no further impact other than a momentary “me, too” agreement. Zuckerman proposes that the ideal engagement is thick and impactful, providing a great opportunity for not just internal change, but significant external action.

How does this impact tech? Many non-profits and social change agents look to social media as a way of engaging a large number around a mission….but in many ways, the non-profit community embraces a very thin and superficial effort towards engagement. Focusing on “tech for its own sake” or “every non-profit must use social media” can be potentially self-limiting, since the overall impact would be more thin and symbolic. For any agents of social change, although integrating technology and web-based tools are necessary for reaching key audiences, relying on those tools solely for long-term engagement – or even thinking that civic engagement ends of that point – is not the wisest course of action.

But thinking more in terms of thick and impactful engagement….is always the wisest course.

Have any thoughts or comments? Please leave them below, and also please feel free to contact me privately either via Linked In or my web site’s contact page. And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

May 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized