Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity’s Margin & Mission Ignition Earned Income Experience

Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity’s Margin & Mission Ignition Earned Income Experience

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Gabrielle Reineck
Editor’s Note: Gabrielle Reineck is the Senior Director of Outreach at the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity. A number of organizations participating in Margin & Mission Ignition -- The Patterson Foundation’s initiative designed to help nonprofits grow entrepreneurial capacity, boost revenue, and increase mission impact -- recently developed business plans to launch or grow an earned income venture. To help bring their business plans to life, each organization was seeking a financial “mission impact investment” from donors, funders, and investors toward their needed startup or growth capital required for successful implementation. As an added incentive, The Patterson Foundation offered a generous match opportunity to jumpstart each organization’s venture.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since we were first introduced to Mike Oxman and Larry Clark of No Margin, No Mission. Our CEO, Mike Mansfield, attended a Margin & Mission Ignition Earned Income informational meeting presented by Mike and Larry and hosted by The Patterson Foundation.

When Mike came back to the office and shared what he learned and the opportunity to create an additional revenue stream to support our homeownership program, we were excited. It wasn’t long and we were off to attend ‘Lab #1’. Attending Lab #1 were Mike Mansfield, CEO, Jay Gordon, Board President and me. Jay and I really didn’t know what to expect so most of the car ride was spent with Mike sharing again what he learned.

Charlotte County Habitat operates three resale stores, so earned income was not a new concept to us. During Lab #1 we were asked to come up with two potential revenue sources. We chose transitional housing and a clean out business. Keeping those earned income offerings in mind, we were asked to complete a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis for each. We worked together as a team to determine the SWOT for each offering. At the end of the day, our brains were exhausted but we were really excited about the opportunity and we were looking forward to the next step.

Lab #2 was right around the corner and the three of us were off. We were all eager to see what the day had in store for us. This lab had us doing more exercises comparing our two offerings. Every worksheet we completed, Mike, Jay and I were leaning towards our transitional housing idea – it made the most sense to us and would support our homeownership program well. Larry would come by our table and say, “I really like the clean out business.” The next breakout session, “I really like the clean out business.” After hearing that four or five times, we understood where Larry was coming from and we decided the clean out business would be our offering. The final lab was a month later and it was strictly focused on the clean out business. We heard from a panel of non-profit leaders who shared their Margin & Mission Ignition experience and their earned income projects. We reviewed Lab #2 and talked about the basics of business planning. What is the next step? If we wanted to proceed and work with Mike and Larry to create a business plan we had to go through an application process. We submitted our application and waited.

It wasn’t too long before we received word that our application was accepted. The Patterson Foundation awarded us an opportunity to participate in Margin & Mission Ignition for 18 months to create a business plan and implement that business plan with a follow-up period. We were overwhelmed by The Patterson Foundation’s generosity and ready to start working with Larry … so we thought.

Business planning quickly started. Weekly calls, Live Plan, homework. Did I say homework? There was lots of homework! This process was extremely overwhelming and quite grueling to me at times – so much to process and develop. My CEO, Mike, and I would meet several times a week to review our business plan in Live Plan and make sure we were completing tasks to Larry’s liking. There were many times I felt like I was missing the mark but was overjoyed when Larry would tell me, “You nailed it.” Thank goodness, I never wanted to disappoint Larry. We all learned so much during this process and our plan was finally complete and off to the printer.

Next came the ‘Fast Pitch,’ a presentation outlining our business plan and an ‘ask’ for business start-up costs to potential funders. With the support of our donors and the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, we exceeded our start-up cost goal. We were ready to launch Habitat Cleanout & Removal.

Mike and I made several sales calls to our ‘key customers’ and began spreading the word. Soon the phone began to ring with requests for proposals and we were off! We were pleased that our bid process worked and our pricing/timing was right on. Our customers were pleased with the results. We had a few bumps in the road along the way, some staffing changes and lulls in jobs coming in. We regrouped, reviewed the business plan and made some adjustments and the calls began to pick up again.

We are extremely pleased that in our first year we earned enough revenue to build one Habitat home! The Margin & Mission Ignition experience has been very rewarding and we are truly thankful that we had the opportunity to go through this process. We have grown individually and as an organization from what we learned from Larry and Mike. We look forward to the ‘high margin, high mission’ potential Habitat Cleanout & Removal has in creating much needed revenue for our homeownership program.

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