Social Entrepreneurship & the Mission of God pt. 3 | Understanding Capital

A couple of weeks ago we began a six-week blog series called “Social Entrepreneurship and the Mission of God.” In the broadest sense, social entrepreneurs are innovators who seek new ways of offering solutions to societal challenges. They use entrepreneurial and innovation principles to promote social change. Social entrepreneurs build organizations, create products and provide services that intend to bring positive social change.

Maybe one of the things that distinguish social entrepreneurs is their understanding of capital. Social entrepreneurs understand that money is one form of capital, but since success is determined by social transformation rather than by profitability, there are other forms of capital to consider.

According to Dr. Greg Jones of Duke Divinity School, there are five forms of capital needed for a sustainable institution: financial, intellectual, network, service and human capital. He suggests, “People invest in organizations:

  • By their own engagement as staff or as volunteers (human capital).
  • By conserving wisdom and cultivating new ideas (intellectual capital).
  • By providing opportunities for others to solve problems or experience development (service capital).
  • By connecting with other people and organizations who care about similar issues and themes (network capital).
  • By making contributions and encouraging others to provide financial support for the organization to sustain its current budget, as well as for it to dream about new possibilities (financial capital).” [1]

While every organization needs to be strategic about how to develop each of these forms of capital, the sustainability of social institutions will depend largely on the health of its “ecosystem.” This view of capital is holistic and rooted in the goodness of creation and the diversity of gifts that God makes available to serve the common good.

If you’re a Christian in the marketplace, whether in for-profit or nonprofit institutions, perhaps it would serve you well to consider not only the various forms of “capital” in your organization but also in your own life. What are the gifts that are entrusted to you to love the world in the name of Jesus, and what forms of capital would you like to develop to serve the common good? 


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Social Entrepreneurship & the Mission of God pt. 3 | Understanding Capital

Chris Pritchett

Chris Pritchett was our first CEO of the Pro Deo Foundation. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and three kids. Chris is the Senior Pastor of Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church

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