Filling out the Social Business Model Canvas

Pre-Work: Systems Thinking & Impact Gap Analysis

What did you read, hear, see or experience, that made you feel, “Someone has to DO something about this!” – and then realized that someone could be you…

Carrying out an analysis of and understanding the ecosystem into which you are about to embark to create social change is an imperative first step when thinking about creating positive value in a wickedly complicated and challenging social system.  It’s a good idea to embark on your journey by first examining the system and looking for gaps where you can have the most impact. This may lead to a variety of social impact value creation solutions that you can carry out. As illustrated in this model, one resulting pathway could lead you to develop a Social Business Model Canvas.

Further Learning

Check out these resource to learn more about Systems Thinking and the Impact Gap Analysis:

  • System Thinking and related tools at David Kim’s website “The Systems Thinker”
  • Impact Gap Analysis tool on the “Tackling Heropreneurship” website
  • Video: “Using the Impact Gap Analysis” by Daniela Papi-Thornton

Social innovation, social business, or both? (or, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, etc.)

It might be useful to note at this stage that it’s common to find terms like social innovation, social business (social enterprise), or social entrepreneurship used interchangeably, and inevitably the terms can overlap. The following definitions might help distinguish these terms somewhat.

“Social innovations are new solutions(products, services, models, markets, processes, etc.) that simultaneously meet a social need (more effectively than existing solutions) and lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships and better use of assets and resources. In other words, social innovations are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act.” 

Young Foundation (2012) Open Book of Social Innovation

Social entrepreneurship engages “the set of behaviours and attitudes of individuals involved in creating new social ventures, such as a willingness to take risks and finding creative ways of using underused assets. Social enterprises are businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose.”

Young Foundation (2012) Open Book of Social Innovation

The Social Business Model Canvas template allows individuals and teams to map out their new social innovations (processes, services, or models) that aim to address broken systems identified as failing a core group of beneficiaries in society. At the same time, the Social Business Model Canvas allows users to plan for how social innovations are sustained in the long term, either through a diverse funding income model (donors, grants, awards) and/or supported by a social enterprise model created to support the organization’s overarching social mission.

Therefore, the Social Business Model Canvas acts as a tool to help social innovators and social entrepreneurs plan out their models for effective and sustainable social impact.