Will Social Entrepreneurship Survive the Trump Era?
Change is inevitable. Progress depends on how we respond to change. On Friday, we will have a new president of the United States. As with any leadership transfer, it will bring new ideas and new ways of working. As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” To that end, Rolfe Larson of Joining Vision and Action crowdsourced some of leading thinkers (I was honored to be included in this esteemed group) to help us ensure this change turns into progress for the social sector.
There can be little doubt that the recent U.S. election will result in significant policy changes in health care, education, immigration and the environment. While we cannot predict accurately what those changes will be, or when they will happen, change is coming.
Like you, we expect that the new administration will bring challenges to nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. So, we asked a few leaders: “What will happen to social entrepreneurship during the Trump Era?”
The Poor Will Still Need our Help
“The fact that I would request anonymity at this juncture should say something about the current environment. I run a nonprofit social enterprise, which is required to be nonpartisan. The poor will still need our help, kids will still need to be educated, human and civil rights will still need to be defended, and the climate situation still needs to be addressed. Our mission hasn’t changed. What has changed is the environment.
While some doors will close, new doors will open. Solutions advocated by social entrepreneurs are more likely to be favorably received by politicians of all stripes. Now, as always, is the time to advance rather than retreat. We social entrepreneurs are pragmatic idealists; it’s our job to play the hand we’re dealt as well as possible for the communities we serve. And of course, to fight injustice and advocate for positive change to the best of our abilities!”
We Invent Opportunity in Any Environment
“My gut feeling is that Trump will favor business-oriented approaches like social enterprise. That said, he and his administration may be less inclined to provide government support for social enterprise, based on the principle that government programs need to be downsized across the board. Regardless of which way the wind blows, we are all about self-sustainability and innovation, and if we continue along that pathway, we will become stronger no matter who sits in the Oval Office.” (Paul Lamb)
“The very existence of social enterprise is an excellent indicator of the vast creativity available to invent opportunity in any environment — sometimes we can stress the social for advantage, and sometimes we can stress the enterprise for advantage. I am hopeful.” (Janet Eveland)
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that it will be left to socially conscious individuals and the business and investment communities to drive positive social change during Mr. Trump’s term.” (Marc Lane)
“I’m putting my faith in a new generation of individuals who have the passion, the skills and the moxie to lead social enterprise into a new era, much of it fueled by the leveling power of technology — something those of us who’ve seen numerous presidents come and go could never have foreseen.” (Jerr Boschee)
New Opportunities for Smaller Impact Investors
“One possibility is that the restrictions on who can invest in a small business could be loosened, making it easier for small businesses [including for-profit social enterprises] to raise capital. (Jenny Kassan)
Take Action for our Causes
“As we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., we remember his words — ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ We must also remember that it is up to us to bend that arc toward the causes we care about. We must move beyond talk toward action. I encourage every person and organization to involve themselves in policy change at the local, state or national level. It is easier than you might think and it truly makes a difference. My recent blog post, 3 Steps to Integrate Advocacy into Your Nonprofit, shares ideas and tips on how to take action.” (Suzanne Smith)
Social Change Is Unstoppable
While the years to come have many unknowns, there will continue to be opportunities for creative and courageous people to create impact. The social sector has been making a difference in people’s lives for decades and will continue to do so. Together, the movement will not only survive, but flourish, in 2017 and beyond.
I have been through the twists and turns of politics — as a former lobbyist — and now as an engaged advocate. I agree with my colleagues — it is how you respond to change that matters most. We would love to hear what you predict might happen and how you plan to respond. I also encourage you to become an advocate for a cause you care about and ensure that your voice is heard.