By Jean Block
We asked our colleague Jean Block, a thought leader on nonprofit social enterprise, to share her wisdom on entrepreneurial nonprofits. Her strategy, outlined below, can help you identify your assets and begin to create earned income strategies.
Oh, no! The Big Grant was not renewed. Yikes! The Walk-A-Thon was rained out. Yowza! The Fundraising Gala was a flop.
So now what? What can you do to protect your valuable programs and services when a funding disaster strikes?
Savvy nonprofits are investing in social enterprise to provide a source of unrestricted, renewable income so they don’t have to worry as much about a reduction in traditional funding.
What is social enterprise? It is simply income generated by leveraging your nonprofit assets into a business venture. The things you take for granted – what you do and what you know – have value. In fact, what you do every day might look like rocket science to someone who doesn’t know about it or how to do it.
Finding a path to profit
It isn’t easy to create a profitable social enterprise. There’s a series of steps, beginning by creating an inventory of your organization’s assets. This critical step leads to brainstorming ways to capitalize on those assets and ultimately create a business plan for earned income.
Ready to try it? Don’t do it alone. Get others involved – staff, board, volunteers, and clients.
Here’s a simple format to get the ball rolling. The key to a terrific asset inventory is breaking big things like “training’ into all its pieces. Only then can you find the leverage points.
Itemizing your assets
Here you go! How many assets can you include on the list?
Core Competencies –
Knowledge Assets –
Technical Assets –
Relationship Assets –
Once you’ve identified your assets, the next steps include
- brainstorming social enterprise ideas – what earned income streams could we develop based on these assets?
- market research and feasibility studies
- cost analyses: how much can you charge?
- sales planning and business planning
My firm, Social Enterprise Ventures, LLC, can help you move from idea to business plan. For more information, visit www.socialenterpriseventures.com. You might also find this manual useful: The Nonprofit Guide to Social Enterprise: Show Me The (Unrestricted) Money! Easy ordering at the web site above.
Andy wrote a great book on this subject, Selling Social Change (Without Selling Out)