Cover Story: Safety Line
All about mission
While generating additional revenue is a main motivation for starting an earned-income venture, almost equally important is the mission benefit.
A venture connected to mission allows organizations to offer a wider range of services to new groups, as well as their normal target populations. For example, though Freedom Wheels turns a profit on the cars it sells, the vehicles still only cost $3,000 to $5,000 and are affordable enough for some low-income families. By offering two levels of service, so to speak, Vehicles for Change can assist low-income families as they work up and out of poverty.
“A lot of our families who received a car from the Vehicles for Change program come back three years later and buy a car from the used-car lot,” Schwartz says. “I think that that’s important.”
Atlanta-based Open Hand, an organization that provides home-delivered meals and nutrition education to low-income people with chronic diseases, began a for-profit subsidiary called Good Measure Meals in 2005 in response to requests by nurses and referral physicians for nutritious meals for people who could afford to pay for them.
“We had no real way to do that because we weren’t set up for that,” says Stephen Woods, executive director of Open Hand. “There were so many requests, we thought that there was a market out there for this to support the mission.”
Good Measure Meals provides gourmet-quality meals to fitness-conscious people, diabetics and others with special dietary requirements — and even just busy professionals who don’t have time to shop for food and cook. It’s a win-win in that it benefits the community by providing healthy food for the paying public, and 100 percent of its net proceeds support the organization.
Though it wasn’t a fundraising solution immediately, Woods says that in 2008 Good Measure Meals’ net contribution to Open Hand was $430,000.