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Walking the Line Between Good and Money

Social entrepreneurship (non- or for-profit enterprises whose primary mission is to create positive change in the world, or “social value”) is gaining speed in the business and nonprofit worlds. Social entrepreneurs walk a fine line between the opposing motives of social and financial value. Attracting investors/clients is difficult if the organization is perceived as inefficient or unlikely to make a good return for investors, but donors may be put off by suspicion that a “social” enterprise that is run as a for-profit business will place too much emphasis on profit and not enough on the values they wish to support. Also, for-profits are often ineligible for foundation- or government-funded grants. Additionally, there is an ethical dilemma inherent in a mission of creating social and financial value simultaneously. We will discuss these issues and explore solutions to the logistical and ethical dilemma of staying financially afloat while maintaining the integrity of a social mission.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How can a social enterprise source adequate financing from investors/donors/clients/customers to stay comfortably afloat financially while maintaining a primary focus on creating social value?
  2. What are the logistical and practical challenges of a growing social business and how can these best be addressed?
  3. If the objective of these organizations is to create social value, what are the best ways to evaluate success/growth within this metric?
  4. What are strategies to scale up and achieve growth (even go public?) while remaining devoted primarily to creation of social value? Is this possible?
  5. Ethically, are the creation of social value and financial profit mutually exclusive?



Sara Corrigan-Gibbs, Graphic Designer, Elefint Designs

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