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Advice for social innovators at heart

For the past two years I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most inspirational, talented social innovators (aka Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows). This year, good friend Erik Hersman and I returned to Camden, Maine to work with the 2011 Class. Sharing our own experiences of 2008 – when we were both Fellows – and lessons we’ve learnt on our journey is a large part of why we’re here.

Here’s a brief summary of twelve of the key lessons I shared with the Fellows before the retreat wrapped up earlier today.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. Grow your organisation on your own terms.
  2. Don’t assume you need money to grow. Do what you can before you reach out to external funders.
  3. Volunteers and Interns may not be the silver bullet to your human resource issues.
  4. Pursue and maximise every opportunity to promote your work.
  5. Remember that your website, for most people, is the primary window to you and your idea.
  6. Know when to say “no”. Manage expectations.
  7. Avoid being dragged down by the politics of the industry you’re in. Save your energy for more important things.
  8. Learn to do what you can’t afford to pay other people to do.
  9. Be open with the values that drive you.
  10. Collaborate if it’s in the best interests of solving your problem, even if it’s not in your best interests.
  11. Make full use of your networks, and remember that the benefits of being in them may not always be immediate.
  12. Remember the bigger picture.
Further/related reading:

85 comments

1 changefeed { 10.18.11 at 9:58 pm }

->@kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/kccqGI6g

2 Ken Banks { 10.18.11 at 10:03 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

3 dap innovations { 10.18.11 at 10:03 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/Ih0KTqmW #PopTech #socent #innovation

4 Fr@nthro { 10.18.11 at 10:18 pm }

#anthro blog post: Advice for social innovators at heart: For the past two years I’ve been incredibly fortuna… http://t.co/AiJ5LTZG

5 Erik Hersman { 10.18.11 at 10:31 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/Fs64o9ld #PopTech

6 'Bosun Tijani { 10.18.11 at 10:39 pm }

Wise words!!! RT @whiteafrican: RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/5QovohoJ #PopTech

7 Sarah Bruning Meron { 10.19.11 at 12:04 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

8 Sarah Bruning Meron { 10.19.11 at 12:04 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

9 Anthropology News { 10.19.11 at 12:51 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart | Build it Kenny, and they will come… http://t.co/QNgu5G1i, see more http://t.co/XauFKbyc

10 rosaline kahumbu { 10.19.11 at 2:04 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/SDMwl8wL

11 Advice for social innovators at heart | Global Health Hub { 10.19.11 at 2:20 am }

[...] Read this article: Advice for social innovators at heart [...]

12 Michael McDaniel { 10.19.11 at 3:25 am }

RT @TopsyRT: Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/1kgGFnUi

13 Ananda Galappatti { 10.19.11 at 4:42 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

14 King'ori J. Maina { 10.19.11 at 5:03 am }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/Fs64o9ld #PopTech

15 Andy Narracott { 10.19.11 at 8:39 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

16 Theresa Sondjo { 10.19.11 at 2:15 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/PBYu8BuI

17 Omidyar Network { 10.19.11 at 7:35 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/2MFtel9w #PopTech #socent #innovation

18 Omidyar Network { 10.19.11 at 7:35 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/2MFtel9w #PopTech #socent #innovation

19 Maria's Libraries { 10.19.11 at 7:38 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/cL2bpYY3 #PopTech #socent #innovation

20 Carolyn Florey { 10.19.11 at 7:40 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/2MFtel9w #PopTech #socent #innovation

21 marlonparker { 10.19.11 at 7:42 pm }

RT @omidyarnetwork: RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/3dOEBiDD #PopTech #socent #innovation

22 Eco Energy Finance { 10.19.11 at 8:45 pm }

RT @omidyarnetwork: RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/n1QhAxFD #PopTech #socent #innovation

23 Kalsoom Lakhani { 10.19.11 at 8:46 pm }

RT @omidyarnetwork: RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/bWKfOV1x #PopTech #socent #innovation

24 Gustav Praekelt { 10.19.11 at 8:55 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/R6mWcwUm #PopTech #socent #innovation

25 Andre Yap { 10.19.11 at 10:05 pm }

For social innovators at heart: http://t.co/Hhq5LZst #PopTech #socent #swmanila

26 Andre Yap { 10.19.11 at 10:05 pm }

For social innovators at heart: http://t.co/Hhq5LZst #PopTech #socent #swmanila

27 Andre Yap { 10.19.11 at 10:09 pm }

Hey @startupmanila: People, Projects, Ideas that change the world http://t.co/dAQhsFIw #swmanila

28 Ripple100 { 10.19.11 at 10:10 pm }

RT @andreayap: Hey @startupmanila: People, Projects, Ideas that change the world http://t.co/Tze4OOoy #swmanila

29 ugo vallauri { 10.19.11 at 10:57 pm }

Excellent piece, read carefully! RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/KB5Crgax #PopTech #socent #innovation

30 Brandon Hance { 10.20.11 at 12:23 am }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/wzSaQ5qu #PopTech #socent #innovation

31 2.0 contagious ideas { 10.20.11 at 12:35 am }

RT RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/AHTBzk4L #PopTech #socent #innovation: http://t.co/FhCUkcqI

32 Tamsyn Seimon { 10.20.11 at 11:16 am }

Nice! RT @kiwanja Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/0cZtmx1p #PopTech #socent #innovation

33 Rohini Lodge { 10.20.11 at 1:24 pm }

RT @TopsyRT: Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/XlMyQ9xn – helpful tips!

34 The Pageman { 10.21.11 at 4:13 am }

RT @andreayap: Hey @startupmanila: People, Projects, Ideas that change the world http://t.co/Tze4OOoy #swmanila

35 10 Awesome Tips for Start-ups | King'ori J. Maina { 10.22.11 at 5:38 am }

[...] Brilliant post from Kiwanja courtesy of a tweet from @whiteafrican [...]

36 Social Capital Inc. { 10.22.11 at 11:18 am }

Good tips! RT @OmidyarNetwork @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/fXoTVEIj #PopTech #socent #innovation

37 Mieka White { 10.22.11 at 12:35 pm }

Very helpful RT @socialcap: Good tips! RT @OmidyarNetwork @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/othkVrFD #PopTech

38 Stas Gayshan { 10.22.11 at 12:36 pm }

http://t.co/ogHW5RuN Some good advice for social innovators. #innovation #enterprise #nonprofit

39 Avis Mulhall { 10.22.11 at 12:55 pm }

Very helpful RT @socialcap: Good tips! RT @OmidyarNetwork @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/othkVrFD #PopTech

40 ReachScale { 10.22.11 at 4:34 pm }

RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/2MFtel9w #PopTech #socent #innovation

41 Lithaca { 10.22.11 at 4:39 pm }

RT @kiwanja RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/h78E3iQf #PopTech #socent #innovation HT @OmidyarNetwork

42 Innovation Sociale { 10.22.11 at 5:03 pm }

RT RT @OmidyarNetwork: RT @kiwanja: Advice for social innovators at heart. http://t.co/8ZDyWKsb #PopTech #socent… http://t.co/45DSMdSD

43 Taylor Thomander { 10.26.11 at 3:56 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart | @kiwanja #socialinnovation #socent @poptech http://t.co/IYiAjmuO

44 TechChange { 10.26.11 at 5:10 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart | @kiwanja #socialinnovation #socent @poptech http://t.co/NgwZdbRt

45 IntraHealthOPEN { 10.26.11 at 5:14 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart | @kiwanja #socialinnovation #socent @poptech http://t.co/NgwZdbRt

46 Heather LaGarde { 10.26.11 at 5:14 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart | @kiwanja #socialinnovation #socent @poptech http://t.co/NgwZdbRt

47 Ben Tshin { 10.26.11 at 9:16 pm }

@RTVorg Here's some #advice and #wisdom from one of my development inspirations: Ken Banks http://t.co/TcEuqRDt @shawn_cheung @atliu

48 moWoza { 10.29.11 at 11:56 am }

Good advise for social entrepreneurs http://t.co/gNkOa130

49 Josef Scarantino { 11.09.11 at 3:25 pm }

Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/XjOLQPaM via @kiwanja // Great advice!

50 Tidjane DEME { 11.16.11 at 7:02 pm }

12 lessons for social innovators from http://t.co/ZIV4LWCz

51 ♥Aline Hanle♥ { 11.18.11 at 3:54 am }

Advice for social innovators at heart http://t.co/rfmxvVxr RT @TopsyRT

52 Pitching social entrepreneurship in the Den | Build it Kenny, and they will come... { 05.25.12 at 12:24 pm }

[...] beginnings (and current impact) of FrontlineSMS, things which I feel define me and my work, and lessons I’ve learnt along the way. It was a fun talk to give, and one I hope to give again some [...]

53 #JoinOurCore: Talking social innovation in the Dragons Den – News Watch { 05.25.12 at 12:37 pm }

[...] beginnings (and current impact) of FrontlineSMS, things which I feel define me and my work, and lessons I’ve learnt along the way. It was a fun talk to give, and one I hope to give again some [...]

54 Bonnie Koenig { 05.25.12 at 4:10 pm }

This is an older post from @kiwanja but well worth a re-read: "Advice for social innovators" (& other dreamers) http://t.co/ZLyNl5lA #socent

55 Wello Water { 06.08.12 at 9:27 am }

just discovered @kiwanja 's blog. wise + inspired. what's the blog equivalent of a page turner? http://t.co/OtSUGXzZ

56 Ken Banks { 11.15.12 at 4:01 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

57 'Bosun Tijani { 11.15.12 at 4:02 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

58 Co-creation Hub { 11.15.12 at 4:02 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

59 Felicity McLean { 11.15.12 at 4:02 pm }

RT @kiwanja: There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/xKZbrHR0 #socent #SocEntChat #GEWPassItOn

60 buildabrand { 11.15.12 at 4:02 pm }

RT @kiwanja: There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/Gj9BmILa #socent #SocEntChat #GEWPassItOn

61 Ashoka UK { 11.15.12 at 4:02 pm }

RT @kiwanja: There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/FilmxP0d #socent #SocEntChat #GEWPassItOn

62 Joy Cameron { 11.15.12 at 4:03 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

63 Amber-Michelle { 11.15.12 at 4:05 pm }

Excellent advice for social innovators! http://t.co/3vCVOZdH

64 Turkish Philanthropy { 11.15.12 at 4:06 pm }

RT @kiwanja: There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/DuuPt13K #socent #SocEntChat #GEWPassItOn

65 Global Integrity { 11.15.12 at 4:16 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

66 Illinois Task Force { 11.15.12 at 4:21 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

67 Kevin Carroll (PDX) { 11.15.12 at 4:23 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

68 Health 2.0 India { 11.15.12 at 4:42 pm }

In India, advancing health has #socent at it's core. So when @kiwanja gives advice 4 social innovators, we listen: http://t.co/1LW0bkE5

69 Heather Vince { 11.15.12 at 4:48 pm }

These are great, thanks for sharing MT"@kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs: http://t.co/DbYnD4Hj #socent #SocEntChat"

70 Wallis Motta { 11.15.12 at 4:57 pm }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

71 Global Girl Power { 11.15.12 at 5:00 pm }

These are great, thanks for sharing MT"@kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs: http://t.co/DbYnD4Hj #socent #SocEntChat"

72 Stephanie { 11.15.12 at 5:14 pm }

These are great, thanks for sharing MT"@kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs: http://t.co/DbYnD4Hj #socent #SocEntChat"

73 RuralRockStarSeema { 11.21.12 at 10:54 am }

There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/gli9KPNI #socent #SocEntChat

74 Karl Belizaire { 11.21.12 at 10:59 am }

RT @kiwanja: There are twelve tips for budding social entrepreneurs on my blog here: http://t.co/J6KndkfW #socent #SocEntChat

75 Ursula Stephens { 11.21.12 at 11:05 am }

Excellent adviceRT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs
: http://t.co/h1HjndFt #socent #SocEntChat (via @khbelizaire)

76 QldRuralWomen { 11.21.12 at 11:09 am }

Excellent adviceRT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs
: http://t.co/h1HjndFt #socent #SocEntChat (via @khbelizaire)

77 Nick Temple { 11.21.12 at 11:20 am }

Excellent adviceRT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs
: http://t.co/h1HjndFt #socent #SocEntChat (via @khbelizaire)

78 muQu { 11.21.12 at 11:33 am }

Excellent adviceRT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs
: http://t.co/h1HjndFt #socent #SocEntChat (via @khbelizaire)

79 The Hub Islington { 11.21.12 at 11:56 am }

12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs via @ursulastephens @kiwanja @khbelizaire http://t.co/aAl2F0ja #socentchat

80 artquitecta { 11.21.12 at 12:01 pm }

12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs via @ursulastephens @kiwanja @khbelizaire http://t.co/aAl2F0ja #socentchat

81 Social Ent. Italy { 11.21.12 at 12:02 pm }

Non andare di fretta,fai crescere la tua org. secondo i tuoi tempi. Lezioni chiave per nuovi imprenditori http://t.co/wnNqlHJv #socent

82 raffaela { 11.21.12 at 12:02 pm }

Non andare di fretta,fai crescere la tua org. secondo i tuoi tempi. Lezioni chiave per nuovi imprenditori http://t.co/wnNqlHJv #socent

83 Class ACT { 11.21.12 at 12:04 pm }

Excellent adviceRT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding social entrepreneurs
: http://t.co/h1HjndFt #socent #SocEntChat (via @khbelizaire)

84 Alberto Campora { 11.21.12 at 12:25 pm }

Non andare di fretta,fai crescere la tua org. secondo i tuoi tempi. Lezioni chiave per nuovi imprenditori http://t.co/wnNqlHJv #socent

85 Beth Renee Parkhill { 11.21.12 at 5:06 pm }

the case against MN nice :-) RT @dipuoseema: RT @kiwanja: 12 tips for budding #socent http://t.co/SZ9JpEao

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