Cover Story: Safety Line
“In the competitive marketplace you don’t have that excuse,” he adds. “You have to have the best that your market can produce and also the most competitive price. So that means you have to have a tightly run business plan, and we typically don’t manage our nonprofit businesses along those standards.”
The process helped Achievement Centers for Children realize it had real dollar value in its intellectual property. “It’s knowledge, and we’ve invested in it over the past decade-plus in seeking out and getting experience and knowledge,” Patricia Nobili, executive director of Achievement Centers for Children, says. “Sometimes our nonprofit sector doesn’t recognize that strength that they have.”
Putting a dollar value on services also has an effect on beneficiaries — and can have an effect on donors, if you leverage it in your messaging. ForFareStart, a job-training program for the homeless and disadvantaged of Seattle, trainees know that every carrot they chop and onion they peel not only provides them training and feeds hungry individuals in the community, it generates revenue for FareStart, which, in turn, supports their training. (Read more about FareStart at in the Sidebar.)
Dan Johnson, FareStart’s development director, says this awareness instills in trainees a feeling of earning their keep, rather than getting handouts.
“There’s an empowerment piece from the client side, and then I can speak as a development guy, the fundraiser, when you talk to donors and you can tell them the story that FareStart is not only teaching self-sufficiency to the people in our program, we are modeling that in our very own business model and that it’s a cyclical and self-sustaining type of model.
Donors just go crazy about that. They love that,” Johnson says. “It’s very easy to tell the story of FareStart by illustrating the fact that the men and women in our program are working incredibly hard, and not only are we relying upon them to train themselves or take advantage of this training opportunity, we’re relying on them to create the product which is turned into revenue which supports our program.”