Around the world, long-running social orders are facing various forms of upset, be they political, economic or environmental.  What are the conditions where more healthy nations can evolve amidst this turmoil?  We think for a nation to be healthy, business, government and civil society must have comparable social power.

In general, the following sectors create and exercise social power

  • Businesses generate wealth and power through the provision of products and services
  • Government agencies exercise their power by funding policies, enforcing laws and levying taxes
  • Civil society organizations express their power by influencing values, providing education and using philanthropic and other funding to address societal issues.

In many nations, business and government have increased their power during recent decades but civil society has not increased its power proportionally.  But civil society’s must substantially increase it’s power both as its own sector and in concert with business and government to address society’s most pressing issues.

How can civil society increase its power to meet this moment?  Certainly not by applying oft-used, marginally effectual policy change and media campaign strategies that haven’t yet proven to create lasting impact or needed scale.

A civil society that is fragmented, non-strategic and underfunded has very limited power.  As such, it is also limited in its ability to fulfill its vital role in creating a healthy nation.

Civil society can actually expand its social and economic power rapidly. It can adopt and adapt e-commerce business models underpinned by cloud-based technologies proven to create rapid impact, wealth and power.  These new strategies can connect people and initiatives, align and coordinate work, and democratize philanthropy, unleashing vast flows of interest, action and impact funding.

To create the full, balanced future we know is possible, civil society must rapidly harness these new forms of power with purpose and urgency. The well-being of nations depends on civil society’s ability to efficaciously exercise its power on its own, and working together with business and government.