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Working In the Dark

Our very own Ken Davenport shared his thoughts on this nonprofit challenge with the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Here’s what he had to say…

In 2012, I became the CEO of a start-up social enterprise (501c3) in San Diego. At the time, I was a life-long private-sector entrepreneur; this organization, called Mission Edge, marked my first foray into the nonprofit world.

At Mission Edge, we help nonprofits build capacity in their “back office.” We charge below-market (subsidized) fees to facilitate the sharing of expert resources across multiple organizations, while working to improve their organizational effectiveness. And after more than 20 years in business, I can honestly say that this endeavor has been by far the biggest challenge of my career—not because of market demand (there is plenty of need for what we provide), or a shortage of talent (we have found many passionate and skilled employees), or even pricing (in most cases, our clients can afford our discounted rates). Rather, the challenge lies fundamentally in the way the social sector is capitalized.

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