Addressing Societal Needs and Challenges

Understanding the non-profit sector and its current environment
Social Challenges and the Quest for Sustainability


The previous training session introduced to the participants the non-profit sector and the non-profit organizations and tried to encourage youth to gain knowledge, experience, and entrepreneurship skills to have better prospects on the labour market. This session focuses on identifying the social needs in order to start finding solutions.


  1. Key question
  2. Key words
  3. Substantive part/information
  4. Activities for the reader(s)
  5. Multiple-choice self-assessment test
  6. Links to self-study resources
  7. Conclusion
  8. References

Key question

  • What are the 3 economical sectors? How they can cooperate?
  • How to identify a societal need and what answer to give?

Key words

  • Societal need
  • Challenges

Substantive part/information

The 3 economics sectors and their goals: There are three currently accepted elements or “sectors” in the economy (Gunn, 2004). The first sector includes the market or private sector where business is found. The second sector includes the functions of government typically considered as “public”. The third sector is loosely described as the non-profit, civic or voluntary sector. This sector typically includes faith organizations as well (Corry, 2010; Gunn, 2004). While each sector exists with specific boundaries defined by legal and tax regulations, those boundaries are quite flexible and, at times, overlapping.

The intersection of the three economic sectors.

Within those sectors, the social entrepreneurship emerges as a fourth sector of innovators who seek to maximize social benefit with an entrepreneurial mind-set (Chell, 2007; Dees, 1998a). This change of pattern impacts multiple domains such as management theory, organization change, public administration, and economics (Dart, 2004). The fourth sector blends the benefits of the for-profit and non-profit models to scale social change where growth is not typically possible due to resource or other environmental limitations (Weerawardena & Mort, 2006).

With the emergence of a fourth sector comes a new breed of social entrepreneur – social innovators who seek to maximize social benefit with an entrepreneurial mind-set (Chell, 2007; Dees, 1998a)

The relationship between profit, mission, and organizational structure.

There is a plurality of structures between non-profit and for-profit: from the typical traditional non-profit up to the pure traditional business. In the middle we find the social enterprises, which use a business model to reinvest the profit into a social project in order to address a societal need.

Social enterprise synergy effect

What is a “societal need”?

Social need is any essential need for the survival and the progress of the individuals (or the society as a whole) and its derivatives. Example of social needs include: food and water, energy, health protection and medication, education, transportation, employment, safety and security etc.

Current social challenges:

Social challenges refer to problems that people in a particular social group may facet. Examples of social challenges include unemployment, lack of education, integration of disadvantaged or disabled members into the society etc. The social challenges  can be local, regional, national or supranational.

In Europe, for example, the most poignant social challenges are:

  • Environment / pollution
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of opportunities / Education
  • Disabilities
  • Migration
  • Racism
  • Poverty / Social exclusion
  • Radicalism
  • Drug / alcohol abuse

In Africa the following challenges are prevailing:

  • Poverty
  • Poor Education
  • Health protection
  • Violence
  • Hunger
  • Access to financing
  • Low economic growth rate

In Latin America, most common challenges are:

  • Environmental protection (destruction of amazon rainforest due to fires)
  • Grey sector employment
  • Women, rights and gender inequality
  • Violence
  • Innovation and education
  • Health issues like Chikungunya virus and obesity

Example of KANE’s partnerships – good Practices in Greece

  • Environment -> ReThink project
  • Lack of opportunities -> A49, Youth Center
  • Disabilities -> Epicurean Apollo

Other Good Practices around the world

  • Preservation of cultural heritage / ecology / unemployment -> Szentábrahámi Herb Garden, Romania
  • Education / Unemployment -> Zona 21, Bulgaria
  • Young women with less opportunities -> Chicks and the City, Netherlands

Activities for the reader(s)

Based on the information given above, discuss in groups:

  • What are some examples of social problems?
  • Who can deal with these social problems?
  • How can we deal with these social problems?

First activity: What are the biggest social problems persisting in your country?

Social problemWhy/how it happens?Which people are facing it?
(educational level, economical level, geographical situation etc)
Youth employment

What are the ways to solve these problems?

Second activity: Find a social business idea and explain what social problem it solves and why.

Make a SWOT analysis of their social enterprise. What is social entrepreneurship? How would you explain to the others? What are the best social entrepreneurship ideas that you remember?

Existing social enterprise, their short descriptionWhat social problems they solve and how
Ideas generated during the project, their short descriptions What social problems they solve and how

What social entrepreneurship funding opportunities do you remember?
What other help is there for social entrepreneur? (incubators, start-up acceleration, consulting opportunities etc.)
What are the existing barriers to social entrepreneurship in Europe and how to solve them?

Barriers to social entrepreneurship / how they happen? What could solve them?

Multiple-choice self-assessment test

Q1. According to Corry 2010 and Gunn 2004 in which sector belongs the non-profit sector?

a. 1st
b. 2nd
c. 3rd
d. None

Q2. Which are the other names of non-profit sector? (More than one answers)

a. Civic sector
b. Rural sector
c. Volunteer sector
d. Public sector

Q3. Non-profit sector can cooperate with other sectors?

a. Yes, only with private sector
b. Yes, with private and public sector
c. Yes, only with public sector
d. No, only with other non-profit enterprises

Q4. Which sector can address societal needs and challenges?

a. Private sector
b. Public sector
c. Non-profit sector
d. All above

Q5. Which from the below is not a societal need and/or challenge?

a. Unemployment
b. Bureaucracy
c. Disabilities
d. Migration

Links to self-study resources


As previously done during the activities, it is important (as part of public inclusion and therefore efficient addressing of needs) to conduct and gather research (including surveys) determining the weaknesses and strengths that are present in society. By conducting the SWOT-analysis, it can provide the necessary information and data on which societal needs and challenges can be addressed in new non-profit enterprises.


Patten, Cyrus O. (2017), Non-profit Social Enterprise: Social Change in a New Economic Paradigm.
A Cognitive Analytics Management Framework (CAM-Part 2): Societal Needs, Shared-Value Models, Performance Indicators, Big Data, Business Analytics Models and Tools