In his 2014 book The Quiet Revolution, Sagamore Institute’s Jay Hein highlights the work of George W. Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative to work towards solving the world’s most pressing problems. Alongside this story is an even bigger story: the tale of how American citizens–not just American Presidents–have continued to be the backbone of change. As Jay writes, Americans have always possessed an “extravangant generosity, both in manpower and in money” towards making the world a better place. Jay seeks to empower readers that citizen action remains the most important vehicle for this type of impact. As the lines between business and social enterprise become blurred, Carl Schramm’s point proves true that “all entrepreneurship is social.”
The Quiet Revolution‘s last chapter “This is Our City” underscores key ways in which this citizen-led revolution is taking place:
- Giving: The nonprofit sector is the fastest growing segment of the American economy. Private giving is roughly about $300 billion annually, proving that “charity is big business across the states.”
- The vast majority of giving (73%) comes from individuals’ annual gifts and bequests (8%). Foundations and corporations combine for only 19%.
- Service: Skills-based volunteering is a key way for corporations to give back through donating pro bono services or volunteer time.
- Urban Entrepreneurs: Innovative nonprofits are popping up, led by bright leaders such as Kirbyjon Caldwell of the Windsor Village United Methodist Congregation in Houston. Windsor’s 1st project in the 5th Ward was a 104,000-square foot Power Center that houses 10,000 low-income families along with a Chase bank, a hospital clinic, business suites, a school, the business technology center of the Houston Community College, and a banquet facility.
- Social Investment: An emerging field of social enterprise is venture philanthropy in which big investments are made to organizations that show promise for big returns on investments, much like how investments are made to for-profit businesses.