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Social Innovation

We help foundations, philanthropists, NGOs, businesses, social entrepreneurs and investors to drive change by becoming more innovative, strategic, and effective.

In a world beset by economic disruption and political upheaval, as well as by the enduring problems of famine, poverty, and disease, there has never been a greater need for fresh thinking.

Social innovation is about applying new approaches, refining existing practices, and bringing powerful tools to bear in solving the world’s most pressing social challenges. Our work seeks to harness the power of collaboration between businesses, governments, nonprofits and social enterprises to address these challenges more effectively, and on a wider scale.

What we do

McKinsey undertakes more than 200 social innovation projects every year. We help donors, foundations, and agencies to develop and implement strategies for their philanthropic work, and support corporations in their efforts to become more strategic in their social engagement.

Our reach and resources are second to none. We bring broad global experience and relationships, a global network of talented people, distinctive expertise and capabilities, and purpose-built tools and methods.

In the past five years we have served 15 of the top 25 US foundations, collectively responsible for more than $30 billion in philanthropy, as well as leading nonprofits in more than 100 countries worldwide. 

How we work

Our work has three main strands:

  • Shaping social-sector organizations. We help leading and emerging social-sector organizations and individual philanthropists to define their strategic roadmap and create the right organization and operating model to achieve their vision. We also work with family businesses to develop social impact strategies for their companies and their families. In one recent project, we helped to design a new organization to build a platform for a compelling global voice on girls’ education.
  • Advancing corporate social engagement. We work with companies to define and improve their social engagement strategies to secure greater impact for their businesses and for society. We help top global corporations—and many more national and regional enterprises—to reinvent their philanthropic approaches to better align with their business strategies and capabilities.
  • Developing innovative approaches and tools. We develop practices and mechanisms to enhance social innovation, including financial models, prizes, advocacy models, and tools for assessing impact. In the past year, we have helped cities design new competitions on improving resilience and finding innovative solutions to urban challenges. To build our knowledge and contribute to the global debate, we take part in sector-shaping discussions, carry out in-depth research, and publish articles and reports.

Featured experts

Jonathan Law

Partner, New York

Lynn Taliento

Partner, Washington, D.C.

Featured capability

Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool

The Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool is a free online tool that helps non-profits assess their operational capacity and identify strengths and areas for improvement.
Learn more on the McKinsey on Society site

IMPACT STORY

Creating a national social investment strategy

A comprehensive plan to tackle poverty, create jobs and strengthen the social sector

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McKinsey on Society: Social Innovation

Visit the McKinsey on Society site