|Students connected the information at these links to our textbook chapter on responsibility.|
by Ann Abbott
How fortuitous that on the week my Spanish and social entrepreneurship class was studying responsibility within social enterprises, Kony 2012 blew up.
- The Kony 2012 video went viral.
- A backlash ensued.
- Invisible Children posted a response.
- The nonprofit world engaged in a virtual discussion about the specifics of Kony 2012 and the nature of international development work in general. Here are just a few examples: Smart Giving Matters,"What Kony 2012 Can Teach Non-Profits About Marketing,"Is Kony 2012 Good or Bad?"
- The video's director seems to have had some sort of public breakdown.
That set the scene for a lively class session about "Cómo ser una empresa social responsable.¨
What does being a responsible social enterprise mean?
I began by asking students to summarize in their own words the key points from the chapter on responsibility in Enterprising Nonprofits (our textbook for the course). Here are the points we emphasized:
- The key (la clave!) to being a responsible social entrepreneur is communication.
- That communication should be two-way: from the organization to the stakeholder (in the form of an annual report, for example) as well as from the stakeholders to the organization (social media would be one example).
- Responsibility is about actually doing what you say you are doing. In other words, you must be always meeting your mission. (It always comes back to mission...)
What are some examples of how nonprofits communicate about their responsibilities? How does the nonprofit world monitor itself?
Then I assigned to each student the number 1, 2 or 3.
- Students in group #1 watched the Invisible Children response to their critics.
- Students in group #2 dove into Fundación Lealtad's website.
- Students in group #3 explored Tercer Sector's website.
They had a little over eight minutes because that was how long the video ran.
Then I put them in groups. Each group consisted of someone who had watched the video, someone who had studied Fundacion Lealtad and someone who had explored Tercer Sector. I told them to do the following:
- Each person summarized what they had learned.
- Together they connected the concepts from the textbook chapter to what they had seen on-line. (When I do this again the next time I teach this course, I will give them a list of concepts from the chapter and ask them to connect each one--if possible--to what they saw online.)
We came back together as a class and shared some of the connections they identified in their small groups.
How responsible are the nonprofits where you work in the community for this class?
Finally, we went to this link about how 501c3 organizations in the US must make their financial information public. I then went to Guide Star, searched for the East Central Illinois Mutual Assistance Center and shared the results.
Ideally, students would have then looked up a nonprofit that they are personally connected to or aware of, but there was not enough time to do that in class.
In the end, a topic that is not always clear to students turned into a lively class period, especially because of the timeliness of the Kony 2012 issue. How do you teach about the topic of organizational responsibility for social enterprises? Do you know of other websites or resources that exemplify the theory of responsibility? Please share your teaching ideas here.