“How small can I stay, while still driving big, transformative impact?” It’s an exciting question some social entrepreneurs are now asking themselves as they consider how to turn a good idea into a scalable solution.

Organizations–and their leaders–are faced daily with choices about how to use their time and energy, and experience real trade-offs between focusing those assets on the direct growth of their service or program or on strategies for wide-spread change, like driving shifts in public policy or building partnerships with established large institutions that can serve as distributors. Only the latter type of activity enables impact at scale, but to pursue it, organizations have to have built sufficient evidence of results and replicability via direct growth. The questions of how much direct growth, in what kinds of markets, with what kinds of populations, are complex. Social entrepreneurs who once might have responded “as much as possible, everywhere that’s possible” are now answering growth questions in more sophisticated ways that rebalance the direct growth and scaled impact equation.

  • Neighborhood Trust: This 20-year-old nonprofit organization works to combat financial disenfranchisement in New York City, where it serves some 6,000 low-income clients with financial empowerment and planning programs. Recently, Neighborhood Trust has launched two creative initiatives to strengthen and broaden impact. The first, The Trust Card Program “applies behavioral economic principles to create a socially responsible credit card product that provides access to credit only in proportion to a client’s demonstrated ability to manage and pay down debt.” The second, The Employer Solution brings Neighborhood Trust counseling into workplace settings through partnerships with companies. The whole idea is to build on Neighborhood Trust’s already-impressive impact in ways that drive large-scale results without adding big, unsustainable operational burdens.

Read the full article at FastCoExist.com