Skoll Awards: Glossary
Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship
Glossary of Terms
Core support grants are unrestricted funding that can be flexibly applied to any costs associated with an organization’s ongoing charitable activities, provided that the organization does not change its mission or alter any goals established as part of the grant. In comparison, restricted funding must be used for a specific purpose or project as outlined in the grant agreement. The Skoll Foundation provides core support funding when legally possible, working with each Awardee to identify and commit to the achievement of specific core organizational goals and objectives.
An endowment is a permanently reserved pool of funds intended to provide interest and investment income for continued support of a not-for-profit organization. A cash reserve, as specified by the organization’s board, can also be designated as an endowment or emergency fund reserve.
Fiscal sponsorship is a practice by which a legally recognized 501(c)(3) public charity assumes financial and legal responsibilities for a new charitable project initiated by an individual or organization that is not recognized as a separate charity. Once the project establishes a fiscal sponsorship relationship with a public charity, the fiscal sponsor may solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions on behalf of the sponsored projects. The fiscal sponsor assumes oversight responsibility for ensuring that the grant is carried out and the funds are used as intended.
Impact, impact potential
Impact may be demonstrated by behavior, infrastructure and/or policy change in social and/or environmental issues. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship seek organizations whose innovations are positioned to directly affect one or more of these on a large scale and can show evidence of significant impact already achieved. Broadly, behavior change includes changes in the awareness and behavior of key actors, including the general public, companies, funders, beneficiaries, etc. Infrastructure change deals with systems or market changes. Policy change relates to government (regional, national, international) and regulatory policies.
Inflection, inflection point
An organization is at an inflection point when it has an approach that is proven, having already implemented it with success and is now ready to apply the approach on a much larger scale.
Issue, issue area
The mission of the Skoll Foundation is to drive large-scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. It supports organizations that are aligned with the following six issue areas: economic and social equity, environmental sustainability, health, institutional responsibility, peace and security, and tolerance and human rights.
Mezzanine-stage funding is a venture capital term used to describe later-stage financing for a company that is between a startup (seed funding) phase and an initial public offering. We deem a social entrepreneurial organization to be at the mezzanine level if it has a proof of concept, documented its outcomes and developed a written plan to scale up its innovations, but has not yet achieved its full potential as related to geographic expansion and/or widespread adoption.
Program-related investment (PRI)
A program-related investment is a loan or other mission-related investment made by a foundation to another organization for a charitable project. The Skoll Foundation has guidelines, applications and strategies for PRIs that are similar to its grant program. However, PRIs are intended as loans (usually at a below-market interest rate) and must be paid back on an agreed-upon schedule to the foundation. At present, the Skoll Foundation is not accepting applications for program-related investments.
Proof of concept
A proof of concept is evidence which demonstrates that a model or approach is viable, feasible and capable of solving or diminishing a particular problem. It is drawn from actual experience using an innovation in a real-world environment for a sufficient amount of time to prove that the model:
- Is cost-effective and sustainable
- Produces the intended results
- Provides a measurable improvement over other existing models (or diminishes a problem that no one else is addressing)
- Contains a system to continually refine the model based on evidence from the field
The most competitive applicants are able to show that they have assessed the effectiveness of the proposed approach and have incorporated lessons learned in preparation for replication or scaling up.
Scale up, replicate
To replicate or scale up a program is to significantly increase its impact in size, amount or extent. Scaling an impact can occur in many ways, including growing an organization’s own capacity, developing independent affiliates or franchises, encouraging widespread adoption of the model by others or creating strategic partnerships that enable greater reach. The most competitive applicants for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship have a clear, achievable replication plan that leads to exponential growth of their innovation, as opposed to slow, incremental growth over time.
Sectarian groups are religious, political or ideological organizations whose services are limited to a particular sect or who require recipients to adhere to a specific dogma, political point of view or religious practice in order to receive services. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship does not support sectarian programs.
Seed money is early-stage funding used to start a new project or organization and may cover salaries and other operating expenses. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is intended for mezzanine funding, not early-stage seed money. Please see mezzanine-stage funding for more details.
An organization demonstrates Skoll leverage when it is clear that it will benefit from a role that the Skoll Foundation can play beyond funding, such as collaboration with our network of entrepreneurs or media opportunities.
Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs are the change agents for society, seizing overlooked opportunities by improving systems, inventing new approaches and creating sustainable solutions to transform society for the better. Social entrepreneurs are constantly searching for superior ways to solve the problems that plague society.
Sustainability for a social entrepreneurial organization is the ability to achieve and sustain impact for as long as the intervention is needed. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship require organizations to have a clear, compelling plan for expanding impact and achieving long-term financial and operational sustainability. Factors that contribute to long-term sustainability include:
- Leveraging a broad array of resources over time and applying them in the most effective way
- Building the governance and staffing capacity necessary to create and maintain a strong management structure, high-quality partnerships, skill in communicating its model and the ability to evaluate and measure change
- Achieving large-scale impact through elimination of the root cause of the problem and/or widespread acceptance of an innovation and replication by others
Systemic social change delves behind immediate problems, involves new ways of applying resources to underlying causes and results in tangible and enduring benefits. It occurs when an outcome or goal has been attained and the subsequent result either eliminates the cause of the problem or alters programs, policies, funding streams and/or services to reduce the impact of the problem on a long-term basis.
- At least three years of experience in implementing the proposed model or approach
- Documented results showing the actual impact resulting from their intervention
- Evidence that others in the field are aware of and acknowledge the validity of the proposed innovation