Mike Oxman and Larry Clark, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission™

Margin & Mission Ignition NPOs Receive “Discovery” Gift to Explore Possibilities & Preparedness for Next Earned Income Venture

Posted on November 03, 2017 by Michael Oxman
By Michael Oxman, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission

When the “Fantastic 5” nonprofits became active participants in Margin & Mission Ignition more than a year ago, they joined The Patterson Foundation’s initiative that helps organizations increase their entrepreneurial capacity, revenue, and mission impact.

With a substantial investment from The Patterson Foundation (TPF) to help these nonprofit organizations (NPOs) become more thrivable, each has developed and implemented a comprehensive business plan to launch or grow an earned income venture.

Since the beginning of this year, these nonprofits have collectively generated more than $1 million in revenue, and all have experienced significant growth in their (1) business knowledge, understanding, and acumen; (2) ability to raise capital needed to launch or grow their enterprise; (3) staffing and organizational capacity; (4) operational effectiveness and efficiency; (5) ability to market and sell their product and service offerings; and (6) mission impact and expansion.

In recognition of their success, TPF offered each of the “Fantastic 5” organizations another unique opportunity to expand their participation in Margin & Mission Ignition, this time, through the gift of an Advanced Earned Income Discovery Process.

Designed to help each organization begin the process of exploring their next earned income possibility and, more importantly, their preparedness for it, the consultants from No Margin, No Mission led a process that engaged leadership, board, and staff to (1) brainstorm and prioritize earned income opportunities for each organization’s next entrepreneurial venture; and (2) determine preparedness and likelihood for success based on consideration of the necessary alignment in LWRCC (leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture).

Working onsite with each team, the consultants from No Margin, No Mission leveraged the brainpower of participants during a creative brainstorming and vetting exercise, followed by a series of one-on-one conversations to provide LWRCC insight and understanding.

Having collected valuable information from all of the “Fantastic 5” nonprofits, the next step was to carefully consider the learnings, draw conclusions, and share recommendations in a written report and onsite presentation tailored to each organization. MMI delivered their findings to the same team of leadership, board, and staff at the initial Discovery session.

The outcomes from this Advanced Earned Income Discovery Process were powerful. Remembering that the final report – with recommendations and conclusions – was the promised gift to each organization from TPF, several key “takeaways” were noted:

Each of the “Fantastic 5” organizations had at least one viable possibility for their next earned income venture.

While all of the “Fantastic 5” organizations have experienced success in their first earned income ventures, only one has demonstrated strong alignment in LWRCC to pursue a new earned income venture at this time.
  • Manatee Performing Arts Center is poised and ready to embark on their next social enterprise based on their organizational strength and stability, which, importantly, would not detract from their venue and site rental operation developed as part of the first Margin & Mission Ignition initiative.
For four of the “Fantastic 5” organizations, now would not be a prudent time to embark on a new earned income venture due to lack of alignment in one or more of the LWRCC preparedness areas. This is not a negative for these nonprofits, nor is it an indictment on their organizational strength and stability, but rather just a current reality.
  • For example, Historic Spanish Point has recently undergone a leadership transition, which suggests other priorities must receive attention for the near and mid-term. Importantly, with a successful wedding and site rental venture to manage as part of the first Margin & Mission Ignition initiative, the organization must maintain its focus on achieving aggressive business results.

  • Literacy Council of Sarasota is experiencing high demand for their English language classes and trainings – developed as part of the first Margin & Mission Ignition initiative – and must have “all hands on deck” to ensure this venture continues to thrive and grow. As a small organization, their capacity is currently stretched, so resources must be deployed as efficiently and effectively as possible.

  • Charlotte Players is just about to enter their new season of community theatre, with significant demands in the coming months on leadership, board, staff, and volunteers. With the Landgon Playhouse Theatre pivotal to the organization’s success – and the focus of their first Margin & Mission Ignition initiative – priority and attention must be given to ensuring strong business results and outcomes.

  • Florida Maritime Museum identified a strong and viable earned income idea to expand and grow its existing museum gift shop. Coupled with the successful launch of its new Folk School as part of the first Margin & Mission Ignition initiative, and the organization’s demonstrated growth and alignment in LWRCC, they seemed poised to take on their next social enterprise. However, with thoughtful consideration by leadership, board, and staff, the team believes it is critical to maintain the Folk School momentum and ensure that the proper resources are in place to keep the venture on its planned growth trajectory. 

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