Cover Story: Safety Line
A positive side effect of all of this brainstorming and planning is it gets organizations out of charity think and into enterprise think, something Block sees as refreshing. The brainstorming process helps organizations “open the floodgates of ideas about thinking about themselves differently,” she says.
“So many nonprofits are so geared and have been so geared forever to say, ‘We just have to give it away because we’re a charity,’” Block continues. “You can still keep giving it away if that serves your mission, but you also need to begin to think [in a] much more businesslike [way] that says if what you do and what you have and what you know has value, there may be a market for that so you can earn income based on your assets.
“Nonprofits don’t traditionally do that,” she adds. “You know, to stop, step back and do real, honest-to-goodness market research about who out there might think that this is a good idea and who might not. And is the market large enough? And is it the right time? And will it grow?”
For many organizations, starting an earned-income venture is about recognizing that they deliver a lot of value to the community and that just because they’re nonprofit, it doesn’t mean they have to do everything for free. The planning process helps organizations take a closer look at how they’re running their charitable sides, as well.
Woods says creating Good Measure Meals has raised the bar on the quality of the product the organization provides across the board.
“All of this activity results in a better organization for the parent company, ultimately, because it requires that you take your inventory of what your assets are, meaning the quality of the service that you’re providing,” he says. “A lot of times I think that because we’re nonprofit we tend to think that we do the best we can with the limited funds that we have to serve, and that causes issues with quality.