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3 Clear Social Entrepreneurship Trends from Echoing Green | Social Entrepreneurship

July 27th, 2010 2 Comments » Filed under Acknowledgement

Seed funding and support organization Echoing Green sees a huge number of early-stage social entrepreneurs apply to its fellowship program each year. They’ve just released some aggregate data that comes straight from a survey filled out by their semifinalists, and the information is fascinating. Among the trends are the youthfulness of founders, changing types of previous experience, and increasingly innovative organizational structures.

Trend 1: Social Entrepreneurs are starting early. 55% of EG finalists over the last four years have been under 35. In 2009, they made up 70% of the semifinalist pool. In 2010, 65 of the finalists indicated that they had first studied the issue they are working on in college. This certainly resonates with what I’m seeing – which is an explosion of programs catering to the passion of young people (particularly under- and recent graduates) and attempting to provide skills and discipline.

Trend 2: Previous nonprofit experience still the norm, but not a necessity. In 2010 15% fewer of EG semifinalists had previously worked in nonprofits or governments. 49% had worked for for-profits or been self employed, which was up 13% from the previous year. A little over a third of them had previously founded an organization, of which about two-thirds were still in existence. All of this is a hugely positive sign to me, as it suggests that there is more movement from the business space into social entrepreneurship, which I think is a natural next step.

Trend 3: A strong growth towards hybrid organizations. This is another one that seems pretty positive to me. 2010 saw 37% of EG semifinalists structure their organizations as hybrid nonprofit/for-profit models, which is up 20% from the previous year. The number of people starting pure nonprofits was down 20% and the number of pure for-profits remained consistent, at only 8% of the total.

Some additional demographic data that was interesting: Almost 50% of the semifinalists in 2010 were Millennials, the most of any generational group. Just over 25% were African-American, which is awesome to see.

This information is really useful for anyone interested in where this field is going, and I’m glad Echoing Green took the time to summarize it and make it available. More than anything, I think it validates the growing appeal of solving social problems to for-profit entrepreneurs, an essential next step for our field to continue to grow.

Learn more about the survey on Echoing Green’s website.

Photo credit: Echoing Green – Social Change Starts Here

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