September 2, 2015

The Civic Accelerator Impact Report and Lessons Learned

Social enterprises are the “it” trend in the startup community. It’s now easier and cheaper than ever to start a business and compelling to merge your personal and professional interests. Millennials are driving this trend and have a deep connection and urge to “do good” whether at a company where they work or a company they start.

Impact Accelerators Map via Accelerating the Accelerators.

Impact Accelerators Map via Accelerating the Accelerators.

For those looking to start a social enterprise or nonprofit, there are more impact accelerators than ever before. The Points of Light Civic Accelerator works on many levels to help social ventures succeed and solve communities’ most pressing social and environmental issues.  While we have learned from tech accelerators and innovation practices, we are also unique in how we achieve our mission and results, most notably our mix of for-profit and nonprofit ventures and our focus on civic solutions that mobilize people to leverage their time, talent, money and voice to solve critical social issues.

Having been around for several years now, the Points of Light Civic Accelerator has watched, and helped, this marketplace of social entrepreneurs and impact accelerators grow and evolve. With it, we have also evolved based on several lessons learned along the way. Our latest impact report covers the time period between our 2012 launch through our sixth cohort in Spring 2015, and highlights our progress, results and lessons learned, as well as what lies ahead.

We are excited about many areas of our program growth and alumni success:

  • The diversity of our entrepreneurs – 1/3 are ethnic minorities, 1/4 are parents, and 1/2  are founded or co-founded by women (see comparison to leading tech accelerator in the full report)
  • The measurable progress the entrepreneurs and their ventures make in their first year of acceleration –99% increase in earned revenue, 81% increase in for-profit investment, and 91% ventures still active – and how this compares to the national average (hint: we beat it!)
  • The immediate impact our program has on venture and entrepreneur development – 90% would recommend it to their peers, and all graduates report increases in startup and business competencies.
  • The innovative case studies in market disruption and civic solutions in education, community and economic development, environmental sustainability and tech-for-good.
  • The social outcomes we are observing in our leading ventures , recognizing that it is still early and there remains the challenge of accurately measuring and bundling these outcomes across various models and industries.
  • Where we have experimented and what we have learned – regional impact, design challenges, nonprofit investments and scalable solutions, intersection of innovation/social solutions/civic action – and where it is leading us next.

The success and learning from these cohorts is driving the Civic Accelerator forward with our in Spring 2016:

How might we accelerate the rate of technology adoption & financial literacy in order to create opportunities for all to succeed in the digital economy?

We look forward to accelerating more civic-focused ventures and solving social challenges with your help.

View the full report below or . Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and share our impact report on .

Ayesha Khanna is the president of the Points of Light Civic Incubator, which puts people at the center of change by supporting social entrepreneurs and early stage civic ventures around the world. As part of this role, she founded the Civic Accelerator and oversees the organization’s global efforts.