small business

Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence

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As a follow on to my recent series on 9 Critical Success Factors for Nonprofits I want to share some important information about the upcoming Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management’s 15th Annual Symposium, and in particular the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Excellent Emerging Organization Award which are presented each year to exemplary nonprofit organizations at the Symposium.

This year I again had the privilege of being on the panel which reviews applications for these awards and ...

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9 Critical Success Factors to Keep in Mind When Considering a Social Enterprise

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More nonprofits are now exploring social enterprise as a means to create a sustainable revenue stream in support of their organization’s mission. In large part, this is being driven by a need to replace harder-to-get government and foundation funding and reduced giving from other sources. Besides the financial advantages of a social enterprise, there are also other intangible benefits, which I have pulled together in a blog series to help companies think through and formulate a strategy for implementing the ...

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Critical Success Factor #9: The importance of business planning for your social enterprise

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Looking back as we bring this 9 part series to a close we have discussed the following 8 Selection Criteria that a nonprofit should keep in mind when selecting a Social Enterprise model:

  1. It must support and be consistent with your mission
  2. Have market viability
  3. Differentiate in its competitive space
  4. Be one for which your organization has, or can cost effectively build the financial, staffing, managementand infrastructure to launch, manage and grow
  5. Not require a disproportionate allocation of resources which would impair mission
  6. Be scalable and ...
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Critical Success Factor #8: Your social enterprise should create greater visibility for your non profit’s brand

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Why is this important?

Getting the word out to larger audiences

When a social enterprise successfully markets a product or service, it will sell to broader audiences beyond its core constituents (stakeholders, staff, board members and populations already being served through the non-profit’s core mission). This exposure fosters more word-of-mouth endorsement of the products/services, and creates greater awareness of the non-profit’s core mission among new audiences, which is equally important.

Social media provides very cost-effective ways to leverage this “good press” (e.g. ...

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Critical Success Factor #7: Your social enterprise should be able to reach break-even in a “reasonable” period of time

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So what’s a “reasonable” period of time to reach break-even? which is that point in time when the enterprise is generating enough sales from products or services to meet its operating costs and other variable expenses, but not yet earning a profit.

Depending on the complexity of the business model, the amount of capital needed to launch and other factors, the time to reach break-even might range from 8 to 18 months.

Non-profit organizations starting a social enterprise typically begin on a ...

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