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E. Perondi, I. Suteu

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
Far from being a negligible aspect of modern societies, non-profit organizations permeates almost all aspects of life in the vast majority of countries (Courtney, 2002): non-profit organizations supply medical care, education, welfare and many other services and products to millions of people, mostly the underprivileged (Hansmann, 1987; Liao et al., 2001). Based on the social awareness and personal dedication of individuals and small communities, non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are some of the most important actors that promote social innovation and entrepreneurship. In many cases such organizations help reinforce local economies, strengthen the social capital and sustain inclusiveness (Moulaert et al., 2005) and local governance (Gerometta et al.2005). Moreover small NGO's have an important impact on the wellbeing of the communities to which they belong.

Despite this evidence, an increasing interest on the topic and a well developed litterature on the social business models (Yunus et al. 2010;), it is less clear how to translate the effort and dedication of individuals in business models that can ensure the economic sustainability of their social activities. Individuals, that manage, work or volunteer in organizations with a high social and or environmental orientation (Triple Bottom Line), are mainly interested in achieving social and environmental impact more than in economical sustainability. This emotional orientation and involvement has a deep role in shaping the organizational structure and activities: often people are unable to give the right economical value at their activities and to evaluate the economical investments necessary to deliver their activities.

The paper proposes and presents a BN4NP tool based on the Business Model Canvas developed by Osterwalder (Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010) that aims to help nonprofit workers and volunteers to address the gap in understanding the business modelling as an essential activity for nonprofit organizations. These organizations focuses on an imaginary related to the language of social impact and charity rather than business, that imposes strong constraints on the understanding of the importance of the economic sustainability of their activities. We used the participatory observation as the method to understand the constraints of the canvas in real settings and present the BM4NP tool and methodology and mind set., and present BM4NP as an alternative tool and methodology can help and facilitate the understanding of the business model language in nonprofit contexts. After testing the tool and the methodology in different workshops, we present a case study and explain how the workshops enabled an experiential learning activity (Boud, 2013; Kolb, 2014) in which the tool became a boundary object that helped creating a shared territory of negotiation (Star & Griesemer, 1989; Sapsed & Salter, 2004) opening new ways to understand business modeling as a participative activity and integrating the emotional and affective aspects as a resource and main part of the value proposition.