About SEA

SEA: Champions for Social Enterprise

Since its inception as The National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs in 1998, the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) has been the champion and key catalyst for the development of the social enterprise sector in the United States.

Our Mission and Vision

Our vision is for social enterprise to reach its potential as a force for more effective and sustainable social impact. We empower social enterprises and social entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and work to foster a social enterprise ecosystem in which they can thrive.

Our History

Social enterprise is a dynamic, growing and increasingly robust field. Upon the Alliance’s founding, however, social enterprise was a burgeoning field with little attention, structure, influence or connection. Six pioneers of social entrepreneurship (Jerr Boschee, Jed Emerson, Gary Mulhair, John Riggan, Billy Shore and Richard Steckel) recognized this gap and organized The National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs in order to convene thought leaders and practitioners who could share ideas, lessons learned and networks to increase their impact. In the years that followed, the National Gathering became the Social Enterprise Alliance, a membership organization focused on advancing the field of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship.

What We Do

As social enterprise and social entrepreneurship continue to expand across the United States, it needs a comprehensive vision, a clearly-defined perspective and a unified movement to attract capital for growth, effect government policy, facilitate cross-sector collaboration, raise consumer and investor awareness and aggregate capacity and resources. Social Enterprise Alliance is the platform for such a movement of organizations and individuals who dedicate themselves to social progress through social enterprise. In pursuit of these objectives, we support our members and ultimately advance the field by helping grow the network, share stories and build the capacity of social enterprise to solve problems.

Grow Your Network
As SEA’s community continues to expand and diversify, we provide new programs aimed at connecting people with one another for shared learning and growth. These include:

  • Summit: SEA’s bi-annual gathering of the national community, featuring keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions for social enterprise leaders. Since 1998, SEA’s Summit has been the most prominent social enterprise convening in the United States, facilitating lasting connections for hundreds of entrepreneurs.
  • Mentorship ProgramMatchmaking program for social enterprise practitioners to connect with experienced social enterprise leaders for advice, guidance and support. (*Members Only)
  • Working Groups: Virtual gatherings of members to support collaboration, shared learning and growth. This program will launch in Fall 2018. (*Members Only)
  • Chapters: Each of SEA’s chapter cities is led by a group of dedicated, passionate social enterprise leaders and enthusiasts. Events and programming vary by chapter and can include opportunities to network with other social enterprise leaders, participate in pitch competitions, receive face-to-face mentorship, engage in local marketplaces or attend trainings on industry-related topics.

Share Your Story
With over 300,000 unique visitors to our website each year and 50,000 people throughout our communication channels, SEA builds awareness of our social enterprises’ impact with new audiences. Social enterprise stories are told through:

  • Promotional mentions: Shout-outs, celebrations and recognition of SEA members via our social media channels.
  • Spotlights: Weekly profiles of members’ social enterprises, shared through our newsletter and featured on the front page of our website. (*Members Only)
  • Storytelling Initiative: Tells the real life success stories of individuals impacted by social enterprise – individuals overcoming barriers to opportunity through work and education. (*Members Only)
  • Holiday Gift Guide: An online collection of social enterprise products promoted through national media partnerships. (*Members Only)

Build Your Capacity
Social enterprise leaders have access to knowledge and tools for growing their social enterprise like never before with:

  • Behind the Scenes Webinar Series: A series of webinars throughout the course of the year featuring the insight and expertise of successful social impact companies. This series works to shed light on the internal operations that make running a social enterprise successful.
  • Impact Lab: This five-day funding readiness workshop is the perfect resource to get your social enterprise ready to seek investment and scalable. Includes personal guidance from expert mentors and capital advisors.
  • SEA Discounts: SEA members receive exclusive discounts on PR toolkits, email marketing services, business services, social enterprise events and more! (*Members Only)
  • Office Hours: Dedicated time from experts in HR, legal, accounting/finance and other business management fields to assist with your social enterprise operations. (*Members Only)
  • Knowledge CenterBrowse a curated online library of social enterprise content spanning a wide range of topics from funding and business strategy to talent management and impact measurement. Find case studies, tip-based articles, and research from leading sources like Ashoka, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review and more.

Learn more about SEA’s full range of membership offerings and cost structure here.

Our Values

As our network of members and partners work to address basic needs and change the lives of individuals worldwide, we are guided by the following values:

  • Foster Potential: We believe in the ability of social enterprises and marginalized communities to change the world. We work to expand and complement their capacity to create opportunity for all.
  • Embrace Inclusivity: We welcome people with diverse viewpoints, experiences and perspectives. We embrace difference within our team and serve as a space for people at all stages of their social enterprise journey.
  • Show Compassion: We keep the significance of our work close to heart. We work to fully comprehend the problems social enterprise seeks to solve, and in doing so seek to learn from others.
  • Encourage Change: We know that effecting change is necessary to fulfill basic unmet needs. We drive solutions forward with creativity and an entrepreneurial ethos.
  • Create Unity: We are a community of people committed to a shared passion for social change through social enterprise. We work together in pursuit of the common good by fostering connections, encouraging communication and convening the field.