Gingras Global Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 38

Bags to Butterflies

Exploring the Should Zone

Many of you may remember the old TV

show, Twilight Zone. That famous opening

“You have now entered the Twilight Zone”

can still transport many of us to that TV

screen or an unnerving episode.

Welcome to the modern day social enterprise

and impact investing version of zone.

We have named it “The SHOULD Zone.”

If you ask any social enterprise how many times they

have been told they SHOULD be a different legal

structure, they will immediately knee-jerk out a

number that will probably throw you back.

If they are a non-profit beginning to generate a

revenue in an attempt to reduce donor fatigue, they

will be told they SHOULD become a for-profit. If they

are a for-profit tackling a tough social mission with

their product, staff, or existence, they will often be

told they SHOULD be a non-profit. It is almost

dangerous to get any for-profit social enterprise into a

conversation about attempting to gain access to a

grant even though they have heard more than 100

times that they SHOULD qualify. The truth is, often

they don’t. Good intentions can send many down the

rabbit hole wasting precious time and resources.

The recent courageous impact investors are,

unfortunately, not immune to the finger-pointing. As

we watch early adopting impact fund managers

attempt to raise capital, they are often told they

SHOULD be a non-profit, SHOULD ask for higher

returns, SHOULD leave this impact funding to the

CDFIs and, generally, SHOULD get out of the way.