Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century

Lucia A. Worthington

By using private sector evaluation methods to measure performance, the dominant criteria of “profitability” are not easily converted to judging nonprofit philanthropic organizations. However, early impact assessments used for social programs by government set the stage to establish assessments criteria to judge effectiveness. New tools and improved methods in data management make evaluations simpler.

The book gives numerous examples of innovative practices to change ineffective social programs. One interesting chapter explains how Bloomberg used his business mind and methods to change a dysfunctional housing situation for the poor in New York City by using a combination of private and public players to improving living conditions. Bloomberg also restructured the city’s education system and policies by creating community clusters for learning. This had a multiplier effect in neighboring states as they adopted similar strategies.

While this book is loaded with good information, it is cumbersome to read. The formatting and tone is “bureaucratic” and without that necessary light reprieve to gather one’s thoughts or catch one’s breath. It lacks practical insights to guide novice not-for-profit information seekers. Nonprofit staff, governing boards, government planners and gift givers can benefit from this information rich book. The important message to take away is: innovation and collaboration across private and government sectors is the new mode of operation for social entrepreneurship.

Lucia Worthington teaches business and management practices. She considers creative innovations the key to better decision making, survival and success. To recommend a book for review, email

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