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Alternate Paths in Social Enterprise

By Erdin Beshimov

The growing diversity of the social enterprise world is a testament to the fact that people from all walks of life can help make change. Here are some alternative career possibilities in social enterprise and nonprofit that just might compel you to get involved.

Nonprofit Consulting

Nonprofit organizations, just like for-profit companies, often need outside help to address challenges.  And though still not a common field for nonprofit-oriented college grads, nonprofit consulting is increasingly a career move to consider.  What?s more, entry-level opportunities are growing at a number of nonprofit consultancies.  Organizations like the Bridgespan Group and New Sector Alliance increasingly offer internships and entry-level positions.  The key benefit of this career track is the promise of combining functional expertise in consulting with deep knowledge of the nonprofit sector. 

Social Entrepreneurship

Did you know that the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for social entrepreneurship? The recipient was Grameen Bank, for helping lift millions of people in Bangladesh out of poverty.  According to Ashoka, a global social entrepreneurship fellowship, social entrepreneurs "are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change."  The scope for social entrepreneurial activity is vast, and so is its impact.  If you want an insider's peek into this field, check out internship programs at Ashoka or Echoing Green. 

Venture Philanthropy

Venture philanthropy is a radical step beyond traditional philanthropy. This emerging field represents a dynamic fusion of the nonprofit and for-profit worlds, one that is creating exciting opportunities for young professionals to "do good" while still applying and developing business skills. Venture philanthropists seek out nonprofits that show serious promise for making a difference, and provide them with funding and guidance, helping them grow into successful and sustainable enterprises.

Foundation Investment                                                                                                         

Working as an investment analyst or manager for a foundation is a great way for someone with experience in finance to get involved in the nonprofit world.  High-quality investment work is vital to any foundation, for its existence depends on prudent money management and growth of its endowment.  Funds managers work to ensure the highest possible returns on the foundation's assets. They analyze risk and offer recommendations to board members and executives on the management of the endowment. 

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