Luck and Lateness

My first post since I left for India a few weeks ago. Wasn't supposed to take this long but after all the ups and downs in Mumbai, blogging sort of fell by the wayside. Been meaning to get started again, but at a loss for where to begin. Feels weird to be sitting here facing the laptop after so long, and very much like starting from scratch.

So I guess that's where we might as well begin. From scratch. Here's a quick brief on what's been happening since I last posted. I presented my ideas to BANG's investors and impressed them enough to keep negotiations in play so we might just avoid closure. I then left for Mumbai on the 22nd of November for a much needed break, and a week of weddings and good times. Made one wedding on the 25th, loved the parsi food and the after party. Got late for the other held in the Taj on the 26th and it arguably saved my life - stopped in a bar next door just as the violence kicked off. Got trapped in the zone for a few days before getting out in one piece and racing to make up for lost time. Met someone I want to see again but logistically cant. Finally arrived back here days later than expected with jet lag that I'm not sure has quite lifted.

Returned to find 20% of my colleagues made redundant and my project scaled down to almost nothing. Received a letter telling me I've got to move out by the 9th of Jan so another flat hunt begins. Was officially made a Fellow of the RSA but was less than impressed with their much vaunted premises. Accepted an invite by Global Retailing International to write for their magazine for the next year. Now juggling two jobs as I work to keep mine and also get operationally involved with BANG-Ed during evenings and weekends to try and ensure that we realise the revenue streams that will help the organisation survive to continue the great work it does with socially excluded young people.

(pic 1 - waiting for news in Busa)

(pic 2 - fireballs from explosions in the Oberoi)

(pic 3 - right dome of the Taj burning)

So here I am... missing sunshine and sev puri, feeling mildly jaded by another close brush with people who really shouldnt be allowed anywhere near weapons or political ideology, and struggling to find the motivation to tick off my arms length to-do list in the face of another cold and grey winters day.

But hey, just a small blip thats given me something to write about :) I could've been unlucky, and it all could've been worse than a little wobble in party times on the onward march towards getting older! So step by step eh? One more thing crossed off...

Grabbing insolvency by the scruff of the neck

If you're wondering why there hasn't been much posting activity for the past week or so, it's not because I've hit writer's block. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, between deadlines at work and trying everything possible to ward off insolvency for one of the charities I'm involved with. I'll put up some of the things we've learnt once things ease up. Hopefully find out this week if my efforts have come to anything.

The credit crunch is playing its part here, and safe bets suddenly look like big risks when there's no margin for error. The real challenge has been trying to create viable commercial revenue streams for a charity that traditionally hasn't had any. A lot of lateral thinking later, we might be getting somewhere. The difficulties lie in financial modeling for a space that hasn't really got much else to use as reference.

Moving a charity from being grant dependent to becoming financially sustainable requires more than just identifying revenue streams. It requires a change of focus and ways of working. It requires new management skills, and new engagement skills. Dealing with corporations is a whole different exercise to dealing with government or third sector bodies. Lots of challenges but exciting nevertheless. Where there's a will there's a way... and in this case there definitely is a will!!

Watch this space for an overview of what I'm learning about the realities of financial sustainability in the third sector...

Meantime, many thanks to Dylan Tibbs, Binoy Mistry and Anish Shah for bringing time, niche skills and drive to making the change happen. You're all stars!! - Concept Video

As part of applying for Google's Project 10^100 competition we were allowed to include a link to a short 30second video about our ideas. So here's the video for please watch it, rate it, share it, leave your comments and spread the word!!

If it doesn't play in your browser, here's the link

I know the ideas spin past pretty quickly in the vid, so here it is in slide form in case you want to go through it more slowly!

Enjoy! Hope you like it!! - An Illustrative Example is essentially a web2.0 concept for a social volunteering site that works by connecting existing networks, such as Facebook, with collaborative technologies that enable people to help others via the web. It will not only increase the exposure of physical volunteering opportunities through feeds in major social networks but will also allow people to volunteer from the comfort of home, using web-based document and media editing tools. Nothing this comprehensive has been done before (see the comparison grid in my previous post), and if we get it up and running, iVolntr will revolutionise the way volunteering is perceived and done, particularly amongst 16-35's or what I call the 'Facebook Generation'.

Here's an illustration:
A youth charity supporting excluded inner-city teenagers with career development, puts up a request for help with reviewing job applications and CV's. You've got the iVolntr application on Facebook and are interested in youth projects. Their request pops up in your 'Live Feed'. You have a little spare time so you click the link, which opens their profile and documents in your browser allowing you to edit them or leave helpful suggestions. When you have to go, you save and quit, and the document is free for others to keep working on it, until it can be marked complete. Their thank-you note shows on your Facebook profile, so your friends can see what you've been working on and your volunteering portfolio automatically updates for future reference.

Virtual volunteering thus covers anything that can be done for individuals or organisations using digital editing technologies. Other examples include:

  • Career and educational help;
  • Business plans;
  • Ideation (idea generation and validation);
  • Funding and housing applications;
  • Marketing strategies, and plans;
  • Graphics and video;
  • Financial or other spreadsheets;
  • Virtual meetings;
  • Experience-sharing;
  • Answering questions and providing advice;

These are just some examples out of a huge list of possibilities.

Connecting with existing social networks and using a crowdsourced volunteering model, addresses the major barriers to volunteering including findability, immediacy, physicality, localisation, commitment, and kudos; in combination helping more of us to make a collective difference on a global scale.

5 Light Alternatives For Anyone Who Doesn't Want To Waste Money On A New Computer

I'm writing this post on an older laptop. It's not ancient by any means, and has Windows XP and so on, but it's not as fast as the newer bits of kit floating around. Unfortunately many of the standard programs are designed for these hugely fast computers with massive memories, and it just becomes a pain to use older ones.

Anyway it got me thinking that some of you might have the same problem (assuming you're using PCs and not Macs) and might benefit from knowing that instead of going out and buying a new computer, you can simply replace most of your core programs with some light and fast loading ones without losing any value.

Here's my list of the 5 programs you should consider replacing

  1. Internet - Internet Explorer with Chrome or Opera or Firefox.
    Yes I know I said Chrome didn't have support for toolbars and wasn't much faster when browsing with a normal computer, but with older ones it rocks. If it doesn't do it for you try Opera or Firefox which are more compatible with all websites.
  2. Music - Windows Media Player with Winamp.
    Winamp will do everything you want with music, and quite a bit of video too, and it'll do it fast and conveniently.
  3. Video - Windows Media Player, Real Player, DVD player etc... replace all in one go with the VLC player.
    The VLC player is light and fast and will play pretty much any video content with no need to download codecs and so on, like you need to for all the standard heavyweights.
  4. Images - Windows Picture Viewer, Paint etc with IrfanView.
    IrfanView is a very light image viewer that will also you to do all the basic editing you'll ever need.
  5. PDF - Adobe Acrobat with Foxit Reader.
    Adobe is the worst culprit of all standard programs. It is huge, bloated, slow and most of what it does is frankly useless to 99% of users. If you don't replace any of the others, get rid of this and replace it with the Foxit reader instead. You won't believe the difference!

You could also look at lighter operating systems instead of Windows for example Ubuntu, or try replacing Microsoft Office with Open Office, but these have greater variances from what you're familiar with. It would take more out of you in terms of learning new interfaces and there'll be a fair number of surprises both good and bad in terms of their comparative capabilities.

Hope this helps!

Green May Be Trendy, But Very Little Is Actually Changing

Guest Post: This was written in response to Poverty Is Being Lost In a Sea of Green, by Joel Kimber - a friend of mine and Marine Biologist, working on how marine animals may or may not interact (positively and/or negatively) with offshore renewable energy developments.


Unfortunately, despite the green issue being "trendy", very little is actually being done about it. Very little at all. Politicians constantly talk about it - but predominantly to win votes - funding and positive action is actually very hard to come by (and this is coming from an environmental scientist desperate to make a difference). Companies such as BP pride themselves on their green credentials - but again - it's mostly bravado. They're still some of the most environmentally destructive corporations on the planet. Just riding the green wave, as you suggest, to attract more customers and therefore more profit. It's almost more frustrating that this issue is so widely accepted and high profile and yet nothing is being done.

I agree though - it is sickening that poverty still hasn't been addressed. I'm guessing it gets buried by governments, corporations and the media (point in case - the BBC refusing to show the information and messages about poverty during coverage of Live 8 - reducing it to merely a music gig that generated massive profits for the artists) mainly owing to the simple fact that the developed world maintains its power and wealth by using and abusing the undeveloped world - similarly for wealthier sectors of individual countries and poorer sectors. It's criminal. Pure and simple.

What can we do about it!?

The way the world is currently run - there probably isn't much that can be done about it other than on a micro scale. I hate to say it - but a revolution is probably required (don't call me a hippy!). Otherwise the rich and powerful will just maintain systems that make them even more rich and powerful. 'Dispatches' last night was a prime example. The 6 energy companies in Britain are pushing prices ridiculously high through clever (legal) price fixing. Despite recent increases in oil prices, these companies own every sequence in the energy chain and will therefore ALWAYS profit even if one sequence suffers, forcing millions of customers into energy debt (doubtless many older people will die) for no acceptable reason, while their shareholders make record profits - billions and billions. And the government justs let them do it. No morals. Again. Absolutely criminal.

But this (social networking used to discuss such topics) is a great step in the right direction.

After about 3 months of working on the Urban Survival Project concept, I realised that to really improve opportunities for excluded young people, there needs to be a social and technical infrastructure in place. This involves

  1. First, creating a flexible available and interconnected pool of literate urban volunteers
  2. Second, enabling them to connect with and help young people and any one else who needs it, by making it easy to share time and knowledge immediately and online

When I started to design this concept, I realised that these two needs extend to all forms of volunteering and social projects, so I began to work on something bigger than the original USP concept. “A social network that mobilises the Facebook generation." I called it

The main issue is that in today's culture the volunteer has to do much work even before they start doing something helpful. So I figured if we could create something that works with all the major social networks, and allows people to volunteer from home with lots of people being able to do little bits of bigger tasks, we'd remove the pressures of commitment and also the hurdle of traveling to places that are difficult to get to.

No one seems to be doing anything like this right now. There are lots of sites that enable people to form helpful communities, but none of them address the core issues that stop us from volunteering. Here's a quick snapshot of where the iVolntr concept therefore uniquely fits in the current landscape. Within The Current Volunteering Landscape

TripAdvisor Is Giving Away $1m And They Want You To Choose Who

In case you didn't already know, TripAdvisor is giving away $1m dollars to one of 5 causes based on your votes. The deadline is 9th November.

  • Conservation International
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • National Geographic Society
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Save the Children
Following on from my recent post Poverty Is Being Lost In A Sea Of Green about brands positioning themselves to be Green, here too, interestingly 3 out of the 5 are environmental, with one addressing third world health, and only one that is focused on alleviating poverty. Personally, while I try and do my bit for the environment because it's a future we must protect, I'll always lean towards focusing on my time on making things better for people as a priority. The pain of poverty and hunger and sickness affects voiceless millions whose need is more immediate. See more about my efforts to do something about this with iVolntr @

It's fascinating also to see that although so much branding and media is all about aligning with eco-cool, when faced with a stark choice between immediate human pain and environmental issues, most of us will go with empathy. Doctors Without Borders and Save The Children are way ahead. I think they are both fantastic, but I've gone with Save The Children, partly because I've always supported them, and partly because someone took the time to connect with me personally by email. Thanks Wendy!

Anyway here's a little widget to support Save The Children. Please vote too.

Positives In Life Amidst The Credit Crunch

Here's a presentation with some great observations on life after the credit crunch, collated by Ines Seidel.

Life After the Crunch
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: social life)

It's got the usual fears, but what I really like is that she has drawn out some positive personal things like the fact that kids are learning to accept no for an answer, and people are discovering family as they look for more free things to do together.

How is the credit crunch affecting you? Any hidden rays of positivity she's missed? Write in and let me know, and maybe we can create our own presentation on silver linings :)

Poverty Is Being Lost In A Sea Of Green

(I wrote this post for this year's Blog Action Day as a guest post for the Literacy and Poverty project, which is a social initiative and soon to be registered non-profit in New York focused on improving adult education and alleviating poverty. Check out their blog and website.)


Nothing about poverty is cool. It is tough, brutal, painful and cyclical. But it doesn't affect most of the people who can afford the technologies to be reading this, so for many of us it's always been easy to ignore. A hidden evil lurking in 'third world' countries. The saddest development is that even the little attention poverty had when it was simply the most pervasive of the global problems that didn't affect us directly, is being washed away in the tide of interest surrounding the Green movement.

Green has gone from cheap and homemade to cool and chic. From 'tree-huggers' to corporate speak. It is becoming iconic, and a status symbol that brands are associating themselves with. It affects the world we all live in, and therefore directly impacts our own personal interests - and so we take it seriously. Better still, it also costs most of us nothing more turning a few lights off and maybe going easy on the heating... which basically saves us money and again furthers our own interests while making us feel good about ourselves. More and more I see it turning into a McCarthyism thing. Show a disdain for eco-friendliness and you're an instant pariah. Can't argue with that of course. We need sustainability. Maybe we'll even save the planet before it's too late.

My question though is - Why isn't poverty like this? Why is it perfectly acceptable to show no interest in poverty at all? Global poverty is basically left out of sight, and kept out of mind. The pictures have become just that. Glossy prints of someone else's pain. An artist's rendition of reality instead of calls to action. As for local poverty, I regularly hear people righteously blaming the victims for their own situation... these 'people' should stop being so lazy, go and get a job, stop with the pregnancies, get off the streets, and on and on.

The problem is that unlike Green, the only way we can really impact institutional poverty is by redistributing a bit of our money either through donations for global causes, or through paying higher taxes for local ones. And giving away 'hard-earned' money is a concept a little too close to the bone. Nothing cheap and cheerful about it. So we look at poverty in ways that help justify our lack of action. We make like its not there and give it a wide berth. Ignorance is bliss.

But ignorance we can tackle. And making a difference starts with awareness, so I'm going to use a 'rich' country like the UK as a case in point and share 5 facts about poverty that you probably didn't know, but really, really should...

  1. Poverty has two definitions: Absolute and Relative.
    Absolute poverty also known as 'extreme poverty', is defined as living on less than $1.25 per day. The world bank estimates that 1.4 billion people currently live under these conditions. Relative poverty is used when talking about developed countries and currently stands at about $30 a day for a single adult.

  2. Poverty in the UK is defined as any income that is 60% or less than the average household income. 13 million people in the UK live on less than this.
    Doesn't sound too bad? This threshold works out at about £450 a month after tax and rent for a single adult, and worse still, just about £1200 for a family with two children. £300 per month per person, to cover all their other bills, travel, food, and living. That's one big night out plus a pretty cheap suit, if you want it in context. A full fifth of the UK population survives on less than this. Think about it.

  3. Over half a Million people in the UK are homeless
    100,000 families in the UK are classified as homeless. That's families. Not just individuals. That the Government knows of. Because they only count those who've applied to be classified that way and then succeeded in being recognised as 'officially' vulnerable. Crisis estimates another 400,000 hidden homeless. People don't end up homeless by choice and they don't stay that way because they are lazy. The causes are brutal, and the effects are devastating. Resulting clinical depression and mental health impacts are a major reason why many never make it back. Over 70% of homeless people suffer mental health issues but are 40 times less likely than the rest of us to be registered with a GP. You don't get far without an address.

  4. Children are not exempt. 3.9 million children in the UK are affected.
    Half of these children are in workless households, which means the UK has a higher proportion of children living in unemployed families than any other EU country. It doesn't get much better for young adults. 1.2 million young people of working age are not in employment, education or training (NEET). In London alone, that's 25% of 16-18 year olds with nowhere to go.

  5. Ethnicity only makes things worse. In the UK overall, 40% of people from ethnic minorities still live in poverty.
    This is twice the rate for White people. Some migrants like Indians and Black Caribbeans, most of whom originally came from middle class, English speaking backgrounds, have closed the gap with about 25% living in poverty, but for the others it is much much worse. 55% of Bangladeshis, 45% of Pakistanis and 30% of Black Africans are in 'low-income households'.

Anyway, I know this has been a long post, but I didn't just want it to be another pontification on the state of the world today. So thanks for reading. I hope the facts make you think, and even if they've opened your eyes just enough to share this post and pass it on to your friends, we can both say we've made a small difference...

Will Social Enterprise Survive The Credit Crunch?

I was just watching an interview with Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank, and it got me thinking. Amidst all this fear about our economies going bust with our commercial and investment banks, what's going to happen to Social Enterprise?

As Yunus says, food prices have doubled, oil prices have gone up, and the financial crisis is affecting people's purchasing power everywhere. But not all financial institutions are suffering. Microfinance institutions for example, have stronger portfolios because their loans are much more transparent. There may be no collateral and no guarantees, but it's based on trust and still has a much better quality of return. They are reaping the rewards of robustness and relevance, underpinned by ethically focusing on people's needs rather than making careless short-term profits.

Social businesses, in the same way, are about working with people and not exploiting them. They are collaborative more often than not, and held together by people who aren't simply working for a wage. This makes their offerings more relevant to their audience, their financial decisions less risky, and their audience more likely to support them in times of difficulty.

Many also rely on philanthropic funding, government grants or SROI based loans, and won't be quite as badly affected by the credit crunch because the financial instruments they depend on are not quite as compromised. It will be tighter of course, but how is that going to be much different from the normal state of affairs for most social enterprises? At the more commercial end too, they are also more likely to be given leeway around defaulted payments due to the nature of their work.

Finally, if this really turns into crippling economic crisis, I believe it will only help drive social innovation faster. It will embed the recognition that we have to be able to help each other, and create not just environmentally sustainable businesses, but also financially sustainable ones.

We can only do this collaboratively, so I believe the future is bright for social enterprise and social innovation. Watch out for new disruptions to commercial models that rival Grameen Bank, and keep your fingers crossed for a future with less money-mindedness and more taking care of each other!

Startup And Change The World!

Here's a fantastic resource for startups put together by Dev Appanah, a social entrepreneur and friend of mine, along with some of his colleagues at It is basically a rough guide to starting your own social enterprise. It has some great stuff around making the most of your ideas, along with financial and organisational planning help, particularly related to raising the funds you need and managing your key stakeholders. If there was ever anything you should read around starting up a social enterprise, this is it.

Addressing The Real Issues With Volunteering

I've just read that the volunteering charity V is going to start referring to volunteering as 'favours', because apparently their research shows that two-thirds of young people find the word 'volunteering' a turn-off. Haven't they ever heard the phrase 'calling a rose by any another name...'. In this case if young people think its a pig, calling it a tiger isn't going to change anything.

Let's look at the two issues they point to... the reasons why young people don't volunteer.

  1. They see it as signing up to the unknown - If you look carefully, there are two issues here. The signing up - in other words a commitment issue, and the unknown - in other words lack of clarity around what they are going to be doing
  2. A third said volunteering was geeky - I'm guessing 'V' haven't taken into account the effect of the Orange Rockcorps campaign on shifting the perception of volunteering amongst young people.
Asking young people if they have volunteered, most said no, but 80% said they'd done someone a favour. So V have decided that renaming volunteering as favours would get more young people excited. Personally I think that's a poor approach. 'Favours' inherently suggest obligation. Does V realise that it might effectively be building a culture of young people who associate donating time and effort with actual return and reward?

In any event, renaming something does not in any way address the underlying issues, and therefore quite frankly should not be expected to do anything to improve the numbers of young people getting involved.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. I believe there are 4 reasons why young people (16 - 35) don't volunteer. The barriers come down to perception, but usually underpinned by reality.
  1. Effort required to find opportunities to help - I challenge you to find somewhere to volunteer for an hour this evening
  2. Physicality and localisation - having to be there in person and doing something physical
  3. Commitment - having to sign up to something regular and ongoing. The issue here is backing out rather than signing up. We have busy and social lives. A lot of people would rather not get involved at all, than face the embarrassment of telling someone after who needs help that they can't continue any more because they've got some other social activity that overlaps.
  4. Kudos - personal kudos is a huge factor in young people's lives and right now there are no avenues to highlight anyone's volunteering efforts to their friends and networks. Even giving someone a ticket to a concert in return for volunteering as Orange Rockcorps are doing, is reward without kudos. Encouragement for one-off volunteering rather than a culture of a volunteering.

This project, through, is explicitly aimed at removing these barriers by tapping into existing social networks and enabling real-time crowdsourced virtual-volunteering. By addressing the issues rather than playing with semantics, we can start to build a real culture of volunteering, enabling people to help each other and make a difference to millions.

As mentioned before, I'm going to be applying for Google's Project 10 to the 100th, so do help by spreading the word, subscribing to the blog at and passing the link on to your friends and colleagues.

New Self-Assessment Framework for Social Enterprise

(Excerpt from Third Sector Online, by Gemma McKenna, 2 October 2008 )

The social enterprise 'Investing in Governance' has devised a way for charities to assess and improve their governance procedures.

The 24-page document includes 69 best practice guidelines under 11 headings, which cover topics from recruitment to the induction and appraisal of trustees. Organisations that complete the document are scored so they can identify areas for improvement.

The document was drawn up by Stefan Kuchar, chief executive of Wandsworth Voluntary Sector Development Agency, as part of an MBA research study. He worked with five charities to develop the plan, which starts with a list of "10 things that hack me off about charity boards". It was posted online this week and is available to download for £29.50. Apparently charities can also buy in an expert panel to help with the evaluation for £3,250.

Project 10 to the 100th - May Those Who Help The Most Win!

I mentioned this project in my post Finally, a window... some hope! If you are planning to set up a global scale social enterprise, this could be just the thing for you. I'm hoping it'll help the Urban Survival Project get off the ground. Here's a little more detail... Project 10 to the 100th

Google is looking for ideas that can help as many people as possible, in any way, and are committing $10m to launch them. You can submit your ideas and help vote on ideas from others. The deadline is Oct 20th and voting starts in January.

The categories are

  1. Community
  2. Opportunity
  3. Energy
  4. Environment
  5. Health
  6. Education
  7. Shelter
  8. Everything else

The criteria are

  1. Reach
  2. Depth
  3. Attainability
  4. Efficiency
  5. Longevity

I'm going to submit the Urban Survival Project's online volunteering platform as an idea. So watch this space, and please vote for it!!

You can help now too. Just tell me what category you think USP / iVolntr should fit in and why?!

5 Tips To Help You Start A Blog For Your Social Enterprise

Blogging should be a key strategy for any social start-up or even an established one, primarily because of the collaborative nature of social activity plus the need to build profile and audience ahead of trying to raise funding.

After almost a year of posting I've learned a lot about the value of blogging and how to keep it going, both from a writer and reader perspective. Here's some strategic tips in case you're thinking about starting one either for yourself or your enterprise... social or otherwise!

  1. Think about your blog strategy:
    Figure out what you want to achieve from the blog, then figure out the audience you need. Find the common ground between the two in terms of topics, and start writing about them.

  2. Stay focused on your topics:
    Once you've figured out your strategy, stay focused on it. If you want subscribers you need to stay specific to the audience you want to build. People don't usually subscribe to generic blogs or those that try to cover too many categories because they don't want to be bombarded by stuff they aren't interested in. We're information overloaded as it is, so it may be good for driving search traffic, but terrible for building regular readership.

  3. Don't go crazy with your Tags:
    Select and reduce the number of Tags you use so that they clearly reflect what your blog is about. They should become like a navigation menu rather than a random list of words. See my categories on the right for example. Tag clouds are fun too, but people who aren't into blogs (and thats most of them) don't know what they mean. They also don't attract as much traffic as you'd expect.

  4. Don't confuse your professional blog for a personal one:
    If you've created an info-blog, don't use it as a dumping ground for your opinions on random things, however passionate you are about those. Your subscribers are a trapped audience but they really don't appreciate you abusing their time by switching into 'speakers corner' mode every so often. With the US elections I'm seeing a lot of this... social enterprise bloggers, retail bloggers, innovation bloggers etc etc all chucking in posts about their opinions on US politics. It usually makes me tempted to unsubscribe.

  5. Maintain a sensible level of readability:
    No one has time to read lengthy discourses on anything. They need enough detail to gain value, but short enough to pick it up quickly. Short bullet points make all the difference. With this post for example, I've written enough to provide an explanation if you wanted it, but also split out summary titles as bullet points in case you didn't have time to read all this text.

Finally, a window... some hope!

As I'm sure all you long term subscribers will have noticed, I've been blogging less and less about the Urban Survival Project over the past few months. It's not that I suddenly lost interest and moved on to other things, but more to do with the fact that ...

  1. When I looked at it closely, I couldn't see a way of reducing costs down to the small scale £10-30k funding available for social enterprises. For a good example, see my post on my experience with UnLtd
  2. I similarly couldn't make a compelling case for financial return on investment for VCs that might provide the quick ROI to convince them to invest in the scale needed £100-£300k. It was easy enough to see scope for ROI, but the social imperative is a major psychological hurdle for most investors and you have to be really compelling to overcome that.
  3. I never did meet any philanthropists regardless of scale.

So I've been taking a different route, building connections and working on related youth and social projects until there was some sensible glimmer of hope that made it worth pushing effort into developing the USP idea further.

Fortunately it looks like that might just have happened. I came across Google's Project 10 to the 100th the other day, which is a project to fund large social enterprises and looks like it might be just the thing. Check it out - I'll write more on it later but the strapline is "May Those Who Help The Most Win" - sounds perfect!!

Be ready for much more USP this month :)

Orange RockCorps - Corporates Mobilising The Community: A UK First?

Orange RockCorps is coming to you. Volunteer for free concert tickets. The adverts are on TV now. You'll recognise the underpinning philosophy from the ads on the tube if you live in London. "I am who I am because of everyone". I used to see the ads, think it was a nice idea, but figured it was just some more corporate positioning. However, true to their strapline Orange have teamed up with RockCorps to bring an awesome community project to the UK.

Here's the deal... You do 4 hours of volunteering/community service at one of 50 projects being organized around London, covering everything from school regeneration to helping the homeless, and you get 1 free concert ticket.

The first gig is on September 26th at the Royal Albert Hall and involves Busta Rhymes, Guillemots, John Legend, Feeder and more artists are still signing up.

That appears to be it. No further catch. No idea how many concerts there are, or if the 1 concert will cover all volunteers, but since I can't find any other condition for getting a ticket I'm assuming they will have to keep them coming for as many people as do the volunteering. I love it!

It's already happened in the US, but this is quite clearly the first true example of a corporate mobilising the community in the UK. Orange provide the funding, publicity, platform, social media, project connections, scalability, and in return they get massive, massive kudos even though the idea really is RockCorps'. Still, someone had to be brave enough to make it happen, and respect to Orange for doing it.

Here's some more links

Orange RockCorps

4 Phases of Innovation

Innovation really has turned into the buzzword for 2008. In case, like most people, you still don't know what innovating is really all about here's a quick intro. According to Iris Mootee on the Future Lab blog, apparently going from idea to mass market adoption happens in 4 phases, all of which involve innovation.

  1. The Fuzzy Front End (FFE), which involves a lot of insight gathering, ideation and early conceptualization

  2. New Product Development (NPD) process, which involves design and engineering prototyping

  3. Early-Stage Commercialization (ESC), where ideas are needed to inform how the product is being brought to market (usually small underserved or unserved market/segments)

  4. Driving Mass Adoption (DMA), where innovation is applied to mass market the product/service and considerations include how to use this disruptive innovation to upset the market dynamics and economics.

3 Models of Social Enterprise: Creating Social Impact Through Trading

The Charities Aid Foundations' social investment arm Venturesome has published a couple of papers this year on categorising social enterprises, so that both investors and investees understand how different business models create social impact and the consequences they have for generating financial returns. It is worth a look to see if or where you fit within their model as it might help you present your social enterprise better, and understand not only the management skills needed but the financial risks and potential social return perceived by your investors.

Anyway CAF divide social enterprises into 3 distinct business models, based on their research defining enterprises according to the social impact they are achieving rather than their legal form.

  1. Model 1 - Profit Generator:
    Trading activity itself is primarily seeking a financial return only. As such, it is deemed to have no direct social impact but gives some or all of its profits to charity. Financial risk of the investment is disconnected from the likelihood of achieving social impact.
    Examples include Corporates with CSR programmes or those which give a percentage of their profits to developing charitable projects, Charities investing endowments in financial markets, and Trading subsidiaries of charities.

  2. Model 2 - Trade Off:
    Social impact is integral to the nature of the trading activity, but a balance has to be struck between generating financial returns and creating social impact. The firm could increase its social impact by decreasing financial returns, or vice versa. In other words, there is a trade-off. Model 2 firms may be able to attract commercial investors with an acceptable rate of financial return, while at the same time achieving a level of social return which is acceptable to its other stakeholders.
    Examples include Fair Trade Businesses, Microfinance Institutions, and Firms that employ the disabled or other disadvantaged people.

  3. Model 3 - Lock Step:
    Trading activity has direct social impact, but that social impact increases or decreases in step with financial returns. Apparently these types of enterprise are scarce as they operate in clearly competitive markets. The level of financial returns that Model 3 businesses are able to achieve may be acceptable to a fully commercial (financial return only) investor.
    Examples include Co-operatives, Wind Farms, and

Download Three Models of Social Enterprise (.pdf)

Download Three Models of Social Enterprise, Part Two (.pdf)

Listening to the Social Entrepreneur

I recently came across this event so thought I'd share it. It's called "Listening to the Social Entrepreneur" and will be held on Thursday, October 09, 2008 from 10:00am - 05:30pm at the University of East London's Docklands Campus.

Looks interesting. Here are the main themes:

  1. The Social Entrepreneurial Mindset - is a social entrepreneur just born that way or can those from other sectors transition their organisations to become social enterprises, and how do we make that cultural shift?

  2. Procurement Versus Market Place Focus - is procurement really a long-term sustainable business model for social enterprise or is it time to start moving back to the market place?

  3. The Business Versus Social Goals Debate - how do we get the balance right without selling out, and how important is social impact measurement and bench marking in helping us achieve our goals?

More info here. Let me know if you're planning on going as I'm thinking of it too.

The Future Is Chrome... Or Is It?

In a nutshell the answer is No

Until the way we browse fundamentally changes, new entrants like Google's new browser 'Chrome' really have nothing to add for the majority of users. The future is touch screen and voice commands. When these start to become ubiquitous, what the mass market needs from browsers will change. At that point there will be a big gap for new entrants.

If Chrome was setting itself up to exploit that change, we'd be looking at the early rumblings of a browsing revolution. But it isn't.

The browser is not finger touch oriented in anyway, and in fact the functionality has become more mouse based, fiddly and precision oriented. There isn't even the 'alt' functionality needed for disabled access technologies.

So no, for the moment I don't really see Chrome taking over the world. I suspect it will be just another player like Firefox. I'll be keeping an eye on it anyway from the perspective of USP development, so if anything new comes to light that changes my view, I'll be sure to keep you posted!

Meantime if you want to know a bit more about this, read the full article on my other blog -

Google's new browser muscles in on Microsoft

If you've been keeping up with the voices in the blogosphere, particularly the tech side, there's no way you'd have missed the fact that Google has just released a new browser called Chrome. But since I know you most of you probably haven't, here's a quick update. 

What is Chrome?

Basically Google has released an Open Source beta (test) version a new internet explorer (browser). It is small to download, simple to use and apparently very fast (although if you're not a developer, you'd never really notice). 

Quick highlights of what's different

  • The search and address field is the same - which is good for the tech savvy, but probably a bit tricky for everyone else. 
  • The homepage shows you your 'most visited' sites, recently closed tabs and bookmarks.
  • Unlike IE, you can shut down tabs that have crashed without losing all your open windows.
  • Security wise, before loading any suspect page Google Chrome will warn you if its a site that is suspected of malware or phishing.
  • Bookmarking is ridiculously easy.

Google Chrome

Why should you care?

Apparently Chrome is not just a browser, but a platform for web pages and applications based on a more powerful JavaScript engine called V8, that can power the next generation of web applications that aren't even possible in today's browsers. Basically it creates huge potential for Google to integrate its multitude of apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, Blogger, Notebook, RSS Reader etc, into a browser in a way that’s never been done before. 

Also and more importantly, since the browser is a desktop application, when combined with Google's Gears which allows web applications to run offline, this finally means that Google is moving into Microsoft operating system territory. In short we might finally see some real competition to Windows and Macs! 

If you're building web apps for your start-up then this is probably something you should keep your eye on. If not, well then I doubt you're missing much by sticking with IE, but that's a story for another post :)


I'm curious to know what others think. Have you tried Chrome? Do you like it? Write in and let me know...

Did You Know? (Shift Happens Update)

Some months ago I put up a slideshow by Karl Fisch called Shift Happens, which I think was created in about 2006. I recently came across some updates created in 2007, so thought I'd share them with you.

The most interesting thing about these updates is that even though they were created barely a year ago, neither mentions the impact of mobile telephone technology. Mobile innovation is transforming the developing world, bringing affordable communication, banking, social and commercial services to rural places where no physical infrastructure exists. It has exploded in the last year, and its impact is finally being recognised over the past couple of months. I'll put up some links related to this when I can. Effectively we're seeing a shift that's happening so fast that even social discussion can't keep up with it!

Anyway here's a couple of interesting video presentations that follow up on Shift Happens.

Did you know - Part 2

Did you know - Part 4
(Part 3 is very similar and was revised to Part 4 a couple months later. You can find it on Youtube if you like)

They both essentially question whether our education systems are keeping up with these shifts and providing young people with the knowledge they need to survive in a rapidly shifting global economy.

What do you think?

9 Fundraising Survival Tips For Startups

I recently came across a really good article by Paul Graham on fundraising for startups. He makes some really good points and his core message resonates with me after months of working on USP, and probably resonates with anyone involved with a social startup.

The hardest part of a startup is making something people want: most startups that fail, die because they didn't do that. But the second biggest cause of death is probably the difficulty of raising money. Fundraising is brutal. I'd add to that point by saying that it's even worse if your idea is social, because funders immediately get nervous about the connotations for potential for return on investment. Here's the full article, but I must warn that it's a long one!

The short version...

  1. Have low expectations
  2. Keep working on your startup
  3. Be conservative
  4. Be flexible
  5. Be independent
  6. Don't take rejection personally
  7. Be able to downshift into consulting (if appropriate)
  8. Avoid inexperienced investors
  9. Know where you stand with them in terms of commitment

Socialising Intelligence With The Urban Survival Project

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: social intelligence)

I've been meaning to put up this presentation on Socialising Intelligence for a few weeks now, but held off as I was planning to turn it into a slidecast with audio. Unfortunately I'm so busy at the moment that it's just going to have to be the slides I'm afraid!

Anyway, I created this for a talk at the last Ogunte event on Facilitating Social Intelligence and Women's Role In It, and it seemed to go down pretty well. It is essentially about social intelligence and how it fits with what I'm trying to do with the Urban Survival Project.

The basic gist is that our societal definition of intelligence is Academic, which makes it a function of economics. And since we have social economic differentials, we also have social intelligence differentials. Balancing out these differentials is what I call Socialising Intelligence. In other words it is about facilitating knowledge transfer in order to create a collective social intelligence.

In essence then, USP is about using web technologies to create a community platform to enable knowledge transfer between those who have it and those who don't. Check the slides out. They are short, simple and pictorial.


From Charity to Social Enterprise: Organisational Redesign

These days, everywhere you look in the social space, it's all about social enterprise rather than charity. Or to put it another way, it's all about financial independence and sustainability rather than dependence on grants and donations.

The question then is how do you go from being a charity that functions through fundraising, into an enterprise that actually monetises services or products; especially when you factor in the charity status restrictions on commercial activity?

Bang Edutainment Logo

This is actually something I'm looking at with Bang Edutainment and I'll try and keep you all updated on what I learn. In essence though the answer is a combination of Business Model Innovation and Organisational Redesign.

Business model innovation is about identifying new ways of monetising your existing services and engaging your target audience, or creating new ones that others aren't offering. Organisational redesign is about restructuring the legal, financial and probably even human structure of your organisation to increase clarity of purpose and ability to deliver different but related services.

When moving towards financial independence for charities, we're essentially talking about monetising existing IP, products or services; and creating linked organisational entities that keep the benefits of being a charity while also allowing commercial activity that can drive profits back into charitable services.

I'll talk a bit more about these as things progress with Bang. We're getting close to business plan stage for some new ideas, and it will tell us if our ideas are viable. If all goes well, I'm hoping to learn some useful stuff for USP too!

For now though, here's some interesting presentations on business model innovation that are relevant regardless of whether you're working in the charity or commercial sectors.

Finally... thanks to those of you who wrote in about this blog, particularly Safs and Katie, who've kept in touch with encouragement all the way. All helps :)

Observations on the Blogosphere

You've probably noticed that over the past few months I've not been quite so prolific with posting. I've been wondering about that too. I don't know whether it's because I'm running out of things to say, or running out of time to write especially now that I'm doing so many other things, because I'm simply facing information overload.

The last one is probably the real reason, and it's because once you start blogging, you realise that there is a very tight correlation between blog readers and bloggers. Bloggers comment to improve their own readership and read other blogs for inspiration. The problem of course is drawing the line on how many and what blogs to follow. I keep finding so much interesting stuff that I now subscribe to over 50 blogs, most of which post multiple times a day. Upshot is way too much information, and blogging paralysis for me!

An interesting observation is that the blogosphere is really a small place even if it seems huge. It's a bit like the internet, which seems infinite but is actually pretty shallow with same information recycled from limited original sources. The more I see this, the more I want to create original and useful content, which of course adds pressure because I need to find more time to think, and voila... we're back at blogging paralysis!!

Overall, I think I'm experiencing information, blogging, and social networking overload. Blogging right now seems a bit like jumping into a small pool with so many other people that swimming is not an option! Maybe it's because this blog doesn't get many comments that it's difficult to stay motivated. I can guess that's because unlike tech blogs the readership here is mostly through email subscription and probably readers that don't normally blog or comment, but still... you know what I mean.

Anyway, if you've enjoyed the posts and do actually keep up with them, stop by and leave a comment. It's easy, and will make a big difference :)

Freesouls and Sharism

Came across a couple of mildly thought provoking presentations this morning and thought I'd share them. The common theme between both is open sharing. The premise is that it's time to start recognizing that knowledge isn't owned and can't be owned and that learning is inherently social. Of course it is sort of related to my view of the world, as what I want to achieve with the Urban Survival Project is less a form of direct learning and more a socialisation of knowledge; effectively meaning the voluntary sharing of knowledge between people who have it and people who don't.

Joi Ito's idea of Freesouls is about collaborative idealism and participatory culture as a team game. Making knowledge and content open to the world.

Isaac Mao's thoughts are related in that 'Sharism' sort of covers the behavioural aspect of the Freesoul idea. It's obviously not written by a native English speaker, but the message is still easy enough to follow.

Present your Startup - Free Presentation Tools

At some point during the life cycle of your startup you're going to have to present your ideas to an audience, whether it's investors or press or feedback groups. Often this is not so much about conveying the complexity and depth of your fabulous idea, but about telling a compelling story that captures and makes sense to the receiver. One easy way of doing this is through visuals. Traditionally through slides, and now more and more through the use of video.

The obvious presentation tools are Microsoft PowerPoint if you use Windows, or Keynote for Mac users, but here's a free one in case you don't have these already - Open Office Impress. If you aren't familiar with creating slideshow presentations, it's worth starting to practice because an amateur presentation can really make you look bad. One tip for creating slides... keep text content to a minimum. Bullet points, especially multiple ones are really boring, especially as people are beginning to see a lot more exciting stuff in the design focused Web 2.0 world! The best place to upload and share your presentations is SlideShare, which allows you to embed the presentation anywhere after you've uploaded it. It's also a great place to look for inspiration and to find presentations on virtually any topic you can think of.

Talking of more exciting presentations though, a lot of presentations are moving towards becoming Flash based - and looking more like video rather than slides. Tools are popping up that allow you to do this sort of thing without really needing any technical knowledge. Here's a couple of free ones worth checking out - iSpring which converts PowerPoint slides to Flash, and Flypaper which allows you to create flash-based web presentations without any programming experience. Best place to upload these is YouTube, where you can create your own channel, and which like SlideShare opens up a host of embedding and share options.

July 2008 Volunteer News Roundup

Volunteering related news headlines for July '08

  1. The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services has asked the DCSF to fund an accreditation scheme for volunteer youth workers. Volunteers will need to submit a portfolio demonstrating that they have achieved the required level of training and practical work experience. Each volunteer will then be awarded a certificate, warrant or card that identifies him or her as a recognised volunteer youth worker. I guess they haven't gone quite as far as actually providing qualifications through volunteering, but it's a step in the right direction.
  2. Talking of gaining qualifications however, volunteering charity V is launching a multi-million pound scheme to get 16- to 25-year-olds mostly in the NEET category volunteering full-time for 44 weeks in local authority children's services throughout England. At the end of this they will get a recognised qualification and a grant to help them move into work. This is expected to launch in January. (More on this)
  3. A draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill, recently published, suggests that applications should be processed faster for people who could show they were contributing to the community. In other words foreign residents applying for British citizenship could speed up their applications by volunteering. This could of course be viewed from a cynical angle, but we won't go there for now!
  4. Volunteering England has launched a campaign to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to set up employer-supported volunteering schemes and has dedicated part of its website, to explaining the business case for it.
  5. Finally, 2011 is being proposed as the European Year of Volunteering, and has received overwhelming support from UK MEPs, so lets see where that goes. If it gets sanctioned, it'll be interesting to see if there's an increase in funding for volunteer related projects.

Return of the prodigal son

Well, hardly prodigal... but yes, finally a return to blogging and generally chasing down the USP dream after a month of travelling and generally being tied up with other things. I went to SE Asia - Singapore, Bali and HongKong - for a few weeks last month, partly for a wedding and partly to catch some sunshine.

Seminyak - Bali

I just assumed, based on my previous experience of travelling the region 6 years ago, that it would be easy to find internet access, but was very surprised to find quite the opposite. Both Singapore and HongKong have almost ubiquitous wifi, but without a device you're pretty much stranded, and for once I didn't bother to take my laptop. My plans for blogging and keeping up with the world of work online died an unexpected death I'm afraid!

Anyway, apologies to all of you who keep up with this blog, but must admit it made for a great break, which means I'm back revitalised and ready to rock :D Plans for the next few weeks are to

  • Finish mocking up user interactions for how iVoluntr could work
  • Get some surveys out to all of you to understand a bit more about how and why people might help each other online
  • Get back in touch with the needs of young people and inner city kids through my work with BANG Edutainment - which I formally became a Trustee of last month
  • Start looking into collaborations with Google over their technologies, and hopefully for funding support

This isn't confirmed yet, but I might also try and do some work around repackaging information for the TRN Institute in Thailand. They've created some awesome IP around starting up social enterprises and changing the world, which I think is really worth getting out to a wider audience - so visit their website and watch this space.

Next few posts will update on whats happening in the volunteering and philanthropy space. In the meantime, thanks for being patient and hope all is well at your respective ends :)

June 2008 Volunteer News Roundup

  1. The Government Train to Gain Funding scheme has been extended to cover volunteers who can now benefit from the same subsidies as those for paid employees.

  2. Youth Volunteering Charity V has changed the applications process for its match fund scheme to attract new project ideas and will now assess funding applications for projects in six new categories: community cohesion, environment, health, human rights, supporting children and young people, and poverty. The scheme will match funds that projects raise from the private sector with government money. Any project that encourages 16-to-25 year olds to volunteer can apply. Here's their viral on Youtube -

  3. The recently launched Morgan Enquiry published some interesting recommendations including that the Department of Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus should fully recognise volunteering as a legitimate job-seeking activity for those claiming benefits and a route to work for unemployed young adults. It further recommended that an accredited corporate opt-in employee volunteering scheme should be developed to generate good and give employers and academic institutions the confidence to release individuals for a day to take part in accredited volunteering.

  4. A new screening system for people who work with children and vulnerable adults will begin in October 2009 and cost £64 per person, the Independent Safeguarding Authority has announced. The CRB will be responsible for gathering information on applicants and transferring it to the ISA. The ISA will then decide whether a person should be barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.

  5. A Europe-wide accreditation scheme for environmental volunteers will be launched in September 2008. The "Environments for Learning" programme is based on the European Qualification Framework and will provide a way of recognising and assessing skills and knowledge that volunteers learn informally through volunteering. The programme is being developed by UK environmental volunteering charity BTCV and six partner organisations from across Europe. It will allow skills learned through volunteering in one country to be recognised in another.

MySpace still rules America

Facebook went past MySpace in the UK last September, and has now officially equalled MySpace globally in monthly unique visitors. MySpace still dominates in the US though - their unique visitor count still doubles that of Facebook - 76m vs. 32m. This means that Facebook has way more unique hits outside America and is dominating heavily, while MySpace is struggling with the global audience.

MySpace vs Facebook US visits

Here's 3 probably controversial reasons why I think MySpace is still dominating America

  1. MySpace networks are inclusive (open) while Facebook networks are exclusive (gated)
  2. Facebook blows MySpace away in instant gratification, but MySpace pays off in profile uniqueness
  3. MySpace accepts everyone... the Oldies too, while Facebook is elitist... for the hip generation only

What this means is that if you're based in the US or your primary audience is US based, stop worrying about Facebook so much and take MySpace seriously!

(Excerpt taken from full post "3 Controversial Reasons Why MySpace Dominates in America, but Facebook Rules Everywhere Else" published on my other blog

Ken Robinson on Creativity

This is a fantastic presentation by Ken Robinson at a TED conference. About 20 minutes long, but really fun and engaging. Watch if you can!

(If it doesn't play, watch it on the TED site here -

The gist of it - Ken contends that creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status. He defines creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value and highlights that it comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.

Here's the thing. Kids will take a chance. If they don't know the answer they'll have a go anyway. They're not frightened of being wrong. If you're not prepared to be wrong you're not going to come up with anything original. As you grow up you become frightened to be wrong because we stigmatise mistakes, and we're now running national educational systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. Effectively we're educating people out of their creative capacities.

We need to radically change our view of intelligence. It is diverse, dynamic, and distinct; and it's expressed through distinct and different avenues - some creative, some physical, some academic. Consequently he believes only hope for the future is to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.

Google's 9 Principles of Innovation

If Google's successes can be attributed to these principles, then they have to be worth modelling your own startup or enterprise around

  1. Ideas come from everywhere - it's not about frameworks and enforced ideation
  2. Share everything you can - don't be territorial and give credit for ideas
  3. You're brilliant, we're hiring - when you meet someone exceptional, fit them in even if you don't actually have a role
  4. A license to pursue dreams - make space for your people to explore tangential ideas
  5. Innovation, not instant perfection - start rough, learn and iterate
  6. Data is apolitical - be specific with measurement and data and make decisions based on it
  7. Creativity loves constraints - fixing at least a few parameters helps people start thinking out of the box
  8. It's users, not money - if you can successfully engage users, you can monetise them
  9. Don't kill projects, morph them - figure out how to repackage and rejuvenate struggling projects rather than waste invested ideas, time and money by shutting them down completely

Watch and listen to Google's Marissa Mayer on the 9 Principles:

What is SROI? - A couple of useful papers for download

I've turned my previous post into a very short paper you can download for reference.

What is SROI? - Download White Paper

And in case you want something more in-depth here's the REDF paper on exploring value creation in non-profit sector

Exploring Value Creation in the Non-Profit Sector - Download White Paper

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

For many of us who are looking to start up a social enterprise, the framework of Social Return on Investment (SROI) could prove to be crucial in both understanding and presenting our social impacts in economic terms. Anything that helps us raise funding and support has to be worth taking seriously, so here's a short overview of SROI.

According to the SROI-UK Network , SROI is an approach to understanding and managing the impacts of a project, organisation or policy. It is based on important impacts that stakeholders identify and puts financial value on outcomes that do not have market values. SROI therefore is a framework. It’s a story, not just a number.

The story should show how you:

  1. Understand the value created
  2. Manage it
  3. Can prove it

It was developed in the early 1990s, by a non-profit social enterprise called The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund [REDF] who began to analyse its SROI to help illustrate in monetary terms the value generated through an investment in its social programmes.

For social entrepreneurs there are 3 avenues of value creation:

  1. Economic: creating services or products that have greater market value than their inputs e.g. any commercial business
  2. Social: creating services or products that have a provably beneficial impact on society e.g. anti-racism initiatives
  3. Socio-Economic: creating services or products that increase the market value of inputs but also generate cost savings for the public system or environment e.g. employment programs

Why should you care?

The key point to note is that the SROI analysis is essentially a robust argument for your non-profit or social enterprise to be at least partially compensated or credited for the value it creates in the marketplace. This could be either through public funding or CSR investment.

To create your SROI analysis you need to do the following:

  1. Examine your social service activity over a given time frame (usually five to 10 years);
  2. Calculate the amount of "investment" required to support that social activity and analyze the capital structure in place to support it
  3. Identify the various cost savings, reductions in spending and related benefits that accrue to your public system as a result of what you're doing
  4. Calculate the economic value of those cost savings and related benefits
  5. Discount those savings back to the beginning of the investment time frame using a net present value (NPV) and/or discounted cash flow analysis
  6. Finally present the Socio-Economic Value created during the investment time frame, by expressing that value in terms of NPV and SROI rates and ratios.

And yes, it clearly points towards needing a decent accountant!

Still, the benefits of having an SROI framework are clear. It will help you

  • Understand the real value of what your enterprise/organisation does
  • Raise finance more easily
  • Get public sector support more easily
  • Improve reporting on positive changes caused by your organisation
  • Develop a better organisational structure, with improved strategies, systems and accountability
  • Improve your ability to manage risks and identify opportunities required to achieve your mission



Download this post on SROI as a pdf

Trends in Logo Design

Since I've been talking about branding I thought I'd have a look at logo design. Personally I'm a big believer in designing logos that can stand alone from any text and still be clearly identifiable as your organisation. Think Nike, Apple, Microsoft Windows and the original Adidas logos. Anyway, I recently came across a cool post on trends in visual design for logos.

So if you're thinking of starting a new enterprise or are in the process of updating your brand, here are some thoughts below based on a post from logoorange.

  1. 3D: the organic rather than blocky sort. Be careful though. Here's the Microsoft Silverlight example. Visually nice - yes. Memorable - no!

    Microsoft Silverlight Logo

  2. Waves: Apparently the swoosh is dead. It's all about waves with fades these days.

    Agility Logo

  3. "Web 2.0": Think rounded corners and glassy

    Skpye Logo

  4. Transparency: Subtle effects are in

    Windows Vista Logo

  5. Minimal "Underground" Typography: None of these still exist so no idea what that says about this form of logo!

    Underground Logos

  6. Rainbow Color Scales: Unfortunately everytime I see anything like this I think 'Polaroid'! Other examples are SpaceTime and ElasticDigital. Their logos look really similar though.

    Northcolour Logo

  7. Sci-Fi Fonts: You can end up looking very tech geek or "video-gamey", so be careful.

  8. Leaves: Green is big right now. Leaves help you ride the eco wave and can give your brand that fresh peaceful look.

  9. The "Ugly" 80's: What can you say about this, except that it's a risky strategy unless you're of the belief that even bad publicity is still good!

    London 2012

  10. The New Crest: Medieval symbolism and urban culture graphic elements can be very cool if done well. If not, they just look complicated and impossible to identify the company within.

    Ministry of Sound Logo


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