Successful Nonprofits: Going Beyond the “New Normal”

Should your nonprofit have a double or triple bottom line?

Should your nonprofit have a double — or triple —bottom line?

The world is changing — in a good way.  Here in the Twin Cities, and around the globe, there is a growing trend to use social enterprise to accelerate change — and make nonprofits more financially viable.

Social enterprise is not really new.  In fact, many local nonprofits have been operating one for decades.   What is new is how many are launching, innovating and scaling!  While they serve highly diverse missions and operate a variety of businesses, what they have in common is a double bottom line: social mission and profits.

Undaunted by “the new normal”  — major reductions in government funding or philanthropy’s reluctance to fund general operating costs — these innovative nonprofits are changing the way nonprofits “do business” by operating one. 

  1. Did you know that CityKid Java operates a $2 million coffee business? You may have seen it at Cub or Target.  Coffee sales made it possible for them to “donate” $45,000 to fund Urban Ventures youth programs.  They’re revved up and well-positioned to scale their “business” with a major rebranding underway, thanks to a pro bono team from General Mills. A targeted expansion is planned for specific markets across the country.
  2. With the Genesys Works “business model,” less than 25% of their budget relies on donations or grants.  What’s more, they are expanding nationally — achieving a 50% growth rateGenesys Works trains a highly diverse group of economically disadvantaged high school students.  In their senior year, they have an internship with businesses that are seeking technology-proficient employees. It’s a real win-win.
  3. Last year, PPL Enterprises merged with Rebuild Resources and then underwent a rebranding. Under their new name, Momentum Enterprises, they generate approximately $6 million in revenue from light manufacturing, recycling, and more.  With a new leadership team, they are well on their way to increasing profitability so they can achieve greater social impact and serve more participants.

Should your nonprofit start one?  If you have one, how can you make it more effective?  A smart organization does their homework.  So I encourage you, your board and senior staff to attend the national Social Enterprise Alliance Summit, which will be held in Minneapolis May 19-22.  It’s a great opportunity to hear directly from innovators and experienced leaders.  Choose a 4-day or 1-day registration. Go behind the scenes to find out what makes these social enterprises successful with Summit Tours.

Can’t attend the Summit?  If you’re in town, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to  network with 50 social enterprises at the first  Twin Cities Social Enterprise Marketplace, May 20, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  It’s free and open to the public, thanks to the Greater Twin Cities United Way.  As the new president of the Social Enterprise Alliance Twin Cities, I encourage everyone to get involved and help us participate in building a thriving social enterprise community right here.

The Social Enterprise Alliance Summit in the News: MinnPost Minnesota BusinessStarTribune

Naturally, Mentor Planet will be part of the TC Social Enterprise Marketplace.  After all, we’re a social enterprise that mentors social entrepreneurs so they can accelerate impact!  Please stop by to say hello and meet some of our Mentor Partners.