A Conversation about Models of Impact with Matthew Manos

With all of the excitement and optimism surrounding our latest release of the Global Ambassador Program for Models of Impact, our editorial team decided to interview verynice Founder, Matthew Manos about why he decided to create a certification program. 

verynice has helped so many people find their unique model of impact. Why did you decide to open the doors and create an Ambassador program?

There are a lot of design firms. There are a lot of consultancies. The thing that makes verynice unique has always been our give-half business model, but also our groundbreaking resources in the field of business-design. After open-sourcing our give-half business model in 2013, we realized that we had paved the way for an exciting opportunity: helping others create unique models of impact.

The concept of Models of Impact started out simple. We designed a couple of infographics that mapped out the similarities and differences between ~50 different models in the product and service-oriented business landscape. After the maps were leveraged by over 10,000 people in a relatively short period of time, we knew there was demand for something more. This lead us toward developing curriculum around our own unique approach to business design - the Models of Impact toolkit - now leveraged in over 75 countries. This global movement is what inspired us to make the work of these practitioners more official by creating an ambassador program.

Models of Impact's growth over the last two years has been a story of openness to develop the tools as organically as possible, inspired by our users. We're really excited to see what comes of the program, and where it might lead us next.

M: What has been your experience taking this methodology abroad? Does it translate well in other territories?

On a grassroots basis, thanks to the Internet and verynice's comprehensive network, the methodology has really been international since day 01. The first time I personally had that chance to take the method abroad, however, was in February of this year (2016). I was fortunate enough to be invited by the kind folks at Strelka Institute to travel to Moscow to teach a workshop, give a lecture, and help them integrate the methodology into their online and in-class curriculum.

What I quickly learned during that trick was the fact that "play" is such an incredible universal language – across borders, age, and culture. The method was immediately accepted by our participants in Russia, and continues to flourish, even in the months since I've left. This experience was actually a big motivator to finally pursue a more intentional attempt to take the method to a global level. We are currently planning additional international workshops and events – including a trip to Mexico in 2017, so stay tuned for more on that :)

What do you see ahead as the future of business considering trends in CSR and nonprofits alike?

The biggest trend we are seeing in the evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility is a willingness that corporations and entrepreneurs have to see impact as something that is integral to their business and their brand, not something that is temporal, or campaign-oriented. This is an exciting trend for social enterprise, and the mass adoption of that practice, as a full integration of impact into a business model is precisely the point of social entrepreneurship. That said, this is also a scary trend for traditional nonprofit organizations, in regards to philanthropy, and it is a disruption that large organizations need to start planning for.

Traditional philanthropy in the business sector looks like a corporation writing a series of checks to several organizations across several causes and regions. Now, with social enterprise calling for a more focused form of giving that is integral to the brand promise of a product or service, we are seeing a wave of new businesses that give to only one cause or organization, period. This is a fundamental shift in the relationship between nonprofits and for profits, but I am optimistic enough to think it will still lead to something great.