Webinar #1: Understanding Earned Income in Today's Nonprofit Environment

Margin & Mission Ignition Adds Earned Income Webinar Series to Help Nonprofits Become Stronger, More Thrivable

Posted on April 16, 2018 by Mike Oxman, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission™
Each year since the 2015 inception of Margin & Mission IgnitionThe Patterson Foundation’s (TPF) earned-income initiative designed to help nonprofits build their entrepreneurial capacity, revenue, and mission impact – there have been enhancements to make it stronger and more valuable.

Simply put, the initiative has gotten better for the hundreds of nonprofit leaders, board, and staff members who have been eager to learn about and explore possibilities to launch a new earned income venture or grow an existing one.

So, it stands to reason that the 2018 launch of Margin & Mission Ignition came with yet another valuable new addition…this time in the form of a series of Earned Income Webinars.

Spaced one week apart and offered free throughout February to nonprofit organizations, the virtual learning sessions were uniquely designed to provide a glimpse into what Margin & Mission Ignition is all about and to share primers on topics intended to inform, engage, and encourage further learning.

The webinars included the following topics:
  • Webinar #1: Understanding Earned Income in Today’s Nonprofit Environment

  • Webinar #2: Identifying the Right Earned Income Venture for your Nonprofit

  • Webinar #3: Five Important Factors to Consider for an Earned Income Venture

  • Webinar #4: Generating Revenue is Just One of Many Benefits of an Earned Income Venture
So what was the value of the webinars?

#1: The Webinars attracted a new group of nonprofit organizations that hadn’t previously participated in Margin & Mission Ignition.
Promoting the webinar series on TPF’s social media with an attention-getting “teaser” advertising campaign and via e-blasts to nonprofits with profiles in The Giving Partner helped build widespread visibility and awareness over several weeks among NPO leaders, board members, staffers, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

The webinars were free and open to anyone with interest in earned income. Many who participated either knew of Margin & Mission Ignition but had never engaged or were unfamiliar with the initiative altogether.

With online registration and a login required for participants to join each webinar, we were able to collect their names, organization affiliation, and contact information for reference. While most attendees were from our 4-county area (Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto), we learned that at least one person joined from outside our region, hailing from Chattanooga, Tennessee!

#2: There was a core group of participants who attended all of the webinars.
The first webinar in the series of four attracted nearly 40 participants comprised of a mix of nonprofit leaders, board members, and staffers. As we progressed through the subsequent webinars, the number of participants ranged between 20 and 30, with a core group of loyal followers who tuned into the entire series.

In a few cases, individuals who were unable to join us for all four webinars, reached out to let us know they had conflicts that would prevent them from participating in one or two future webinars, in which case we directed them to watch the individually recorded webinars posted on TPF’s website.

Like any other type of educational offering that is optional to participants, those who joined had a hunger to learn, interest in the topic, and a desire to participate. In other words, they were the ones who were the most eager to get smart about earned income!

#3: The webinar moderator learned as much as the participants!
We know from our post-webinar surveys that the participants who completed them learned new information and concepts related to earned income – including everything from definitions to explanations, examples, case studies, tools, and more.

Interestingly, for this author, who also happened to be the moderator for the webinars, the learning was also SIGNIFICANT! If you’ve never given a webinar before, it is an eye-opening experience and one that seems much simpler than it actually is.

So what did this moderator learn?
  • Since the audience in a webinar is virtual – unlike live presentations made in front of a group of people – being able to imagine them is important. That means visualizing the group without actually seeing them – or them seeing you.

  • Similarly, since the phone line is muted during the webinar, the verbal communication flows one way from the presenter to the audience. Without being able to hear actual voices or sounds from the participants, the moderator must imagine audience reactions in the appropriate places such as laughter, affirmation, questioning, and more.

  • As a webinar presenter, one must multi-task during the session since there are a number of responsibilities required to be effective. Included among these are delivering the content, monitoring the time, keeping an eye on the chat box for questions and comments, and ensuring that the technology is all working correctly.
#4: Each webinar had an action step to encourage the application of the learning by each participant.
We’ve learned through experience that the most valuable training and educational sessions are the ones that end with one or more steps for participants to act on. While not mandatory, we did offer some suggested “homework” activities during each webinar for those who were inclined to make the most of their learning.

For example, each webinar included these action steps, among others:
  • Share key learnings from each webinar with others in your organization, including leadership, board, and staff.

  • Apply the learning, concepts, and tools shared in each webinar to your own organization.

#5: All webinars were recorded and posted on the TPF website.
The content of our earned-income webinar series was as relevant to nonprofits when we presented it, as it will be next week, next month, and next year. That’s why we recorded each of the four webinars, posted them on the TPF website, and have been sharing them with organizations that have interest in understanding the topic. 

In fact, not only have we shared the links with the organizations that participated in them, but we’ve been spreading the word about the webinars via e-blasts, social media, and word-of-mouth. For example, we recently presented an earned-income workshop at the Aging in America National Conference in San Francisco and directed interested participants to view the webinars online.

#6: We hoped the webinars would encourage participants to register for the Margin & Mission Ignition 2018 Educational Lab Series…and they did!
Our webinars were created to inform and educate nonprofits about earned income, but they were also intended to be a building block for participants interested in learning more. After all, there’s only so much learning that can take place during a 45-minute virtual session. Ultimately, we wanted the webinar series to serve as an invitation for those with interest to dive deeper into the topic and participate in the Margin & Mission Ignition 2018 Educational Lab Series.

We’re happy to report that at the inaugural Lab #1 on Tuesday, April 10th, there was a sellout crowd of 102 people representing 54 nonprofits – with a substantial number of them having learned about the Labs and the initiative through the webinar series!

Want to learn more about earned income and related topics?

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