Expand understanding of for-benefits and their ecosystem, and monitor their development.

Enhance Knowledge

Building a robust knowledge base for the sector is an essential. A tremendous amount of information must be developed, organized, and disseminated to clarify what for-benefit enterprises are – from how they operate to how they are governed. Leadership and governance theory must be developed that is consistent with the for-benefit model. It is necessary to identify the barriers for-benefits face, the social and economic impacts they make, and the ways in which they promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the need to understand how for-benefits can be employed in specific industries and issue areas, such as healthcare, utilities, energy, education, and banking is key to successful implementation. Knowledge empowers all of the actors in the fourth sector to understand how to apply the for-benefit model in their unique areas, resulting in more effective decisions and more impact within the ecosystem.

Enhance Knowledge

Advance Policy

Raise Awareness

Connect Stakeholders

Educate & Train

Mobilize Resources


Current initiatives Enhancing Knowledge on the 4SG Platform: 

Fourth Sector Development Initiative

An initiative of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on International Governance, Public-Private Cooperation and Sustainable Development, the Fourth Sector Development Initiative is a collaboration of public, private, and philanthropic institutions committed to accelerating sustainable, inclusive development by catalyzing trillions of dollars of fourth sector growth globally by 2030. Supported by the Fourth Sector Group platform, FSDI fosters collective action globally to enhance knowledge and raise awareness about the fourth sector, to develop more enabling policy and regulatory environments for the fourth sector, to promote new business and investment models that are aligned with for-benefit enterprises, to increase educational and training opportunities for fourth sector practitioners and leaders, and to develop local and regional hubs to foster collaboration and accelerate fourth sector development in communities.

Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative

Established in 2014, the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative (FSMI) is a global, multi-stakeholder collaboration to improve the quality and quantity of data on the fourth sector, to enhance policymaking, economic development, research, investment, and other ecosystem development. Led by a 180+ member Advisory Council of diverse experts, in collaboration with the Urban Institute, The B Team, and a growing network of other partners around the world, FSMI is conducting a global census of for-benefit entities and their supportive ecosystems, which will be combined with existing data from public agencies and private repositories and made available in an open, freely accessible, participatory “Data Commons” for the benefit of practitioners and the public. FSMI is also developing a rigorous classification system for identifying different types of for-benefit organizations.

Fourth Sector Policy Initiative

A global, multi-stakeholder collaboration to develop and promulgate a comprehensive fourth sector policy framework, including model laws that could be adopted at the national, state and local levels around the world. To inform the work, the Fourth Sector Policy Initiative is undertaking a research effort in collaboration with DLA Piper and other partners to examine recent legal and regulatory reforms which have been adopted around the world to recognize and support for-benefit organizations.

Scaling Fourth Sector Investment

A research project to improve understanding of how to better channel investment capital into for-benefit enterprises. The project aims to clarify what defines a fourth sector investment, map existing mechanisms for financing for-benefit enterprises, and propose a case and design a blueprint for an investment fund model optimized for identifying, screening, assessing, and investing in high-potential for-benefit enterprises, including describing specific mechanisms and functions of such a fund and guidance on how it can be implemented in practice. The project will be conducted by the Stanford Global Projects Center, which has world-renowned research expertise and practical experience in setting up efficient collaborative investment vehicles for long-term investors.

Fourth Sector Data Commons

To meet the global demand for better data and understanding about for-benefit organizations, the goal of the Fourth Sector Data Commons is to create a comprehensive, worldwide source of information on the scale, scope and performance of for-benefit organizations, their supporting ecosystem, and other closely aligned organizations. It will be an open, freely accessible, participatory, cloud-based platform that enables users to pool and access existing sources of relevant data; gather, update, expand, and deepen data on ongoing basis; and perform business, impact, and policy analysis and research. A component of the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative, the Data Commons will be developed and stewarded for the benefit of public agencies, practitioners, researchers, consumers, economic developers and other members of the fourth sector community. 

Fourth Sector Taxonomy Framework

The Fourth Sector Taxonomy Framework is a comprehensive, systematic effort aimed at defining and creating a classification structure for for-benefit organizations in order to help policymakers, investors, researchers, and other key stakeholders better understand the fourth sector and differentiate the various types of for-benefit organizations. The Taxonomy Framework aims to develop a rigorous definition of the fourth sector’s boundaries by identifying the characteristics that distinguish for-benefit organizations from traditional for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. A component of the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative, the Taxonomy Framework is being developed through a multi-stakeholder consensus process driven by a brain trust of nearly 200 leading experts, and informed by research, data collection, and analysis.

Ibero-American Fourth Sector Project

The Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) is launching an international project aimed at supporting the development of the fourth sector in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. This project will fund a number of studies that will analyse the potential contributions of this new sector, as well as exploring ways to overcome the main regulatory, financial and cultural barriers that currently constrain its growth. The project will also conduct a series of entrepreneurial activities in several countries in order to raise awareness on the benefits of the fourth sector among entrepreneurs, policy makers, and citizens. By doing so, SEGIB intends to contribute to the creation of a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive economy aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda and the general interest of the Ibero-American people and global society.

OXFAM - Future of Business Initiative

Oxfam's Future of Business Initiative advances a portfolio of projects supporting for-benefit enterprises—businesses that prioritize social aims and put the interests of workers, farmers, communities and consumers alongside those of investors. Oxfam will help for-benefit businesses to access finance, work with global companies on how they can include such businesses in their supply chains, and investigate how for-benefit businesses can contribute towards tackling global inequality.