Tell Us Your Story

By Lior Ipp

Becoming a social entrepreneur, particularly in the earliest stages, is as much about an idea you might have or an issue you care about as it is about telling a story. The narrative, your own and that of your venture, is a critical and often overlooked part of advancing from ideation to a fully fledged enterprise. As funders, we look at an array of factors in evaluating a social enterprise including the problem statement, proposed solution, potential for scale, community interest, revenue model/s, and likely impact. These form the basis of any evaluation but it’s in a social entrepreneur’s story and how they tell it that we get an insight into who they are and why they’re doing what they do; this is as important as any other metric when we’re considering a funding opportunity.

When I review a proposal or hear a pitch, I want answers to three simple questions: why you, why now, and why this issue? As reductive as this sounds, if these basic questions aren’t articulated in a coherent way it’s unlikely you’ll get funding. Sadly, there are countless, well-documented challenges that need to be addressed and any number of solutions for doing so but fortunately there is only one you. As the director, producer, writer, and editor of your life story, its your responsibility to make sure that we (and other stakeholders) understand what drives you, what your passion is, and how you propose to affect change. It really is about who you are. Connect the dots for us. Make it abundantly obvious that you are the right person, at the right time, with the right idea. Tell us your story!

Lior Ipp is the CEO of the Roddenberry Foundation. He was previously the National Executive Director of the Breakthrough Collaborative, after his tenure as Director of Programming for Ashoka’s Youth Venture (YV) where he oversaw the development and strategy of programming throughout the US, Europe, Africa, and Israel. Prior to joining YV, Lior founded an educational software company in New York City. Lior’s previous experiences include overseeing the largest youth enrichment programs in Brooklyn with Oasis Children’s Services, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations University. Lior’s academic training has included undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Madrid, American University, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and most recently Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where Lior was awarded the prestigious Leadership in Education Award.