Social Enterprise — The Road to Sustainability for Your Nonprofit
What is required?
Successful entrepreneurial nonprofit organizations embrace the big picture. They think and act strategically. They build a plan. They educate themselves about market trends, customer buying cycles and consumer benefits, and they know their competition. Successful social entrepreneurs “get up and get out” to test their assumptions. Most important of all, successful social entrepreneurs invest precious resources to grow and enhance their mission.
Keys to success
First of all, your board members and staff must be dedicated to learning about and creating the plan for social enterprise. Consider including entrepreneurs from the community as advisors. Ensure every member of the team is committed to the journey: It will require out-of-the-box thinking and a change from business-as-usual.
The steps to success should include:
1. An organizational focus on goals and desired outcomes for mission enhancement and revenue.
2. A plan for stakeholder communications.
3. A clear definition of the organization’s assets.
4. An objective method to evaluate social enterprise opportunities.
5. Ideas, ideas, ideas based on the organization’s assets.
6. Market research to understand potential customers, their buying habits, demographics, potential, etc.
7. Market research to understand direct and indirect competition.
8. A comprehensive analysis of costs.
9. Financing and tax issues.
10. A sales and promotion plan that includes pricing, delivery methods, promotion, etc.
11. A business plan.
Outcomes of social enterprise
In addition to the realization of a plan for earned income:
* Many organizations can expect changes to occur in the way they manage their nonprofit business, including a more entrepreneurial spirit and a better understanding of what is profitable and what isn’t.
* Many organizations will refine and enhance their current programs and services by providing value-added benefits that create new income sources through new payer markets and customers.
* Many will develop a new language and will internalize a new, objective method by which to evaluate current and future programs, services and income opportunities.