Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact: A Root Cause How-to Guide

A Social-Entrepreneurial Approach to Solving Social Problems

“The gold standard in business planning for organizations addressing social problems.”
— Edward B. Roberts, David Sarnoff Professor, Management of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management; Founder and Chair, MIT Entrepreneurship Center

A Practical Guide to Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact

Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact applies the strategic rigor and financial savvy of traditional private-sector business planning to social problem solving. This practical guide provides an introduction to business planning for enduring social impact and leads readers through a four-step process for creating an actionable business plan.

Please click here to request a copy of the pdf.

The guide is an essential tool for organizations seeking to:

  • Define organizational focus and strategy and establish a clear road map
  • Build a financially sustainable model by creating a plan to establish reliable streams of philanthropic support, earned income, and/or in-kind resources
  • Establish rigorous methods of measuring impact for the organization and its stakeholders
  • Make data-driven decisions that lead to improvements to the organization and its activities
  • Build partnerships with stakeholders in all three sectors — public, private, and nonprofit

Key features include a glossary of business planning terms, plus an outline, sample workplan, and sample business plan for enduring social impact.

Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact draws on Root Cause’s unique business planning methodology, developed through consulting engagements with dozens of organizations, and through the organization’s experience with the Root Cause social enterprises that it has started and grown. The guide is the first in a series of Root Cause How-to Guides, which provide practical advice for organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors dedicated to solving social problems.


Andrew Wolk

Andrew WolkWidely recognized as a leading social innovator and a pioneering teacher of social entrepreneurship, Andrew Wolk founded Root Cause in 2004 and now leads its overall strategic direction. He has consulted to dozens of organizations working for civic engagement, economic development, education, the environment, seniors, and more. As part of Root Cause’s knowledge sharing initiative, Andrew also authored the chapter “Social Entrepreneurship & Government: A New Breed of Entrepreneurs Developing Solutions to Social Problems” in The Small Business Economy: A Report to the President, Small Business Administration (SBA), Office of Advocacy. Andrew is also a senior lecturer in social entrepreneurship at the Sloan School of Management and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. He designed and taught one of the first courses on social entrepreneurship in the country for Boston University’s School of Management, who recently awarded him the first ever Rising Star Award. Andrew began his career as a private-sector entrepreneur, having built and sold a multi-restaurant delivery business in the 1990s. He holds an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Management from Boston University and a B.A. from Lehigh University.

Kelley Kreitz

Kelley KreitzKelley Kreitz developed and launched Root Cause’s knowledge sharing department in 2006. Kelley is senior editor on the forthcoming publication “Advancing Social Entrepreneurship: Recommendations for Addressing Social Problems with Innovative, Results-Oriented Solutions,” co-published by Root Cause and the Aspen Institute. Previously, Kelley worked for New Profit Inc. on initiatives aimed at building the field of social entrepreneurship. She has also advised nonprofits throughout the United States on messaging and media strategy, with a national news service for nonprofits. As a writer and journalist, Kelley has served as the senior writer for and reported for WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR news station, and KPFA in Berkeley, California.

Root Cause

Root Cause is a nonprofit organization that advances enduring solutions to social and economic problems by building social innovators and educating social impact investors. We do this through business planning and implementation consulting, leadership development, publishing practical resources, and the creation of professional and funding networks that unite the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

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