The Converging Fourth Sector

This was a new concept, in truth, a revelation. We are on the cusp of an harmonic convergence, not of planets per se, but in practical application of bringing together 1) corporate - shareholder value & equity, 2) charitable – social & economic consciousness 3) government – taxation & accountability and finally the Fourth Sector where we see a convergence of all sectors into a unified one. The United States is the first to see the value of this new emerging converging fourth sector. According to Russell Sullivan, staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, “we have seen a   “blurring of the lines” in recent years between nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies”. Business people are driving and creating a new market making demands on government to change and pass legislation for a new type of business model. One where people precede profits, where socially conscious people believe that we are “our brother’s keeper”. Practically speaking, let’s look at ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover, I’ve yet to watch it without shedding a tear. For those of us not familiar with this program, it focuses on the rebuilding of a needy family’s home and property. Within the philosophy of the Fourth Sector there is a Trifecta approach, truer yet a Quadfecta, a four way win. Let’s define the following;
The Benefactors
1)      ABC Network– credited with the creative business concept and pulling together of the strategic partners. The executives really should take a bow. Through their “heart string” approach, advertisers are lining up to present their products to some ten plus million viewers weekly.
2)      National/State Builders/Contractors – who provide blueprints, project/construction management
3)      Home Depot – raw materials provider
4)      Sears – appliance and electronics provider
5)      Local governmental representative. What politician would want their name associated with this “baby kissing” op? What’s more? Revived property means higher level of taxation.    
6)      Local charities involve faith groups, children’s charities, animal protection agency’s and the like.
The co-mingling of all of these divergent groups results in a community event that makes the spirit soar. In a time in American history where the average Joe and his family need a break, this show is brilliant. In just 60 minutes viewers move from travail to triumph, from defeat to victory, from observation to participation; where people feel empowered to participate in making someone else’s life better. 
The Fourth Sector is all about creating win for all the parties. Should all shareholders from all sectors benefit? A resounding yes!!! So how do we start to win together? Here are some simple steps.
1.      Business people take the first step. Find a charity that aligns with your corporate mandate. If you don’t have a mandate, meet with your senior staff and write it into your policy and procedures manual. My wife worked for a leading auto manufacturer and her company gave her 2-3 paid hours per week to do meals on wheels and before school feeding programs. Imagine the corporate goodwill when “John” goes to see his mother “Jane” in the senior’s residence just after “Sally” visited “Jane” with a hot meal and flowers. The next time “John” wants to buy a car, might he think of the “lady” who loved his mother enough to bring her flowers? He might, he just might.  
2.      Charities – provide local and international outreach expressions for business. Charities need to recruit businesses that allow people to reach out to a hurting world. One of my favorite charities is “Possibilities International” or “PI” a Waterloo Ontario Region charity has a mantra of turning everyone into an “Everyday Philanthropist”. PI provides opportunities for local businesses to travel to their various “dream agent” locations where they can get involved in local outreaches and events.
3.      Government – officials want to know what is important to their local constituents. People need to meet with their elected officials and let them know that they expect these officials to be aware of the need for social and economic change. What’s more? These officials need to understand that new legislation needs to be implemented that rewards collaborative between business and charity.