Building Organizational Capacity Through Margin & Mission Ignition

Building Organizational Capacity Through Margin & Mission Ignition

Posted on August 05, 2022 by Michael Zimmerman, TPF Fellow 2021/23

Editor's Note: Executive Directors/CEOs, board, and staff members are invited to learn about a unique offering from The Patterson Foundation during a series of Zoom sessions about Margin & Mission Ignition, TPF's Nonprofit Thrivability initiative that helps nonprofits boost revenue and mission impact through earned-income and social enterprise. Participants may choose to attend any or all of the four 1-hour virtual sessions scheduled during August and September, where they will be introduced to CEOs from organizations that have successfully launched or grown a mission-aligned entrepreneurial venture. Click here for details and to register.


While organizations differ in mission, the challenges they confront can be similar, if not the same. Deviating from traditional catalytic funding for NPO capacity building, The Patterson Foundation identified a unique opportunity for regional nonprofits to explore earned-income possibilities through Margin & Mission Ignition (MMI), part of The Patterson Foundation's Nonprofit Thrivability initiative. By creating diversified revenue streams that strengthen how nonprofits raise funds, NPOs can support internal systems to advance their mission.

While for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations may have different goals, they share a common need to develop financial models that help their organizations thrive. Through MMI, nonprofits with up-to-date profiles on The Giving Partner gain access to expert guidance from Mike Oxman and Larry Clark of No Margin, No Mission to extend their capacity to do good in the community.

None of this can happen without buy-in from the CEO, the board, and staff. With this in mind, MMI consulting can only occur when all three facets of the NPO are at the table, building, creating, and implementing a plan in full agreement. Otherwise, the earned-income venture may not be well-positioned for success. One of the ways The Patterson Foundation (TPF) measures how effective an NPO will be is by ensuring alignment of LWRCC: leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture.

Organizations accepted into the MMI program begin an extensive 30-month process where board members and professional leadership engage in coaching and discussions around their earned-income venture. As ideas are finessed, participants begin composing a thorough business plan. Once complete, a proposal is ready to be presented to donors through a convening referred to as a Fast Pitch.

During the Fast Pitch, donor prospects identified and cultivated by leadership are solicited to make an initial philanthropic investment in jumpstarting the venture. Through the MMI process, donors can realize their potential to build capacity by funding NPOs with an economically informed approach to decision-making for their programs, products, and services, sending participating nonprofits to new heights with a reinforced foundation on which to break ground. Once commitments are secured, organizations move forward with their launch and begin to implement the agreed business plan.

MMI capacity building has ripple effects. For instance, Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary created a party rental space at their venue, opening the gate to enormous possibilities for revenue, publicity, and funds that furthered their mission and vision. Today Big Cat Habitat's rental/event space is used by individuals and businesses in the region and beyond, and their success is a direct result of their participation in MMI.

Resilient Retreat is preparing for its Fast Pitch later this month. More will be announced in the coming weeks after plans are implemented and made public. Stay tuned for the next blog on the results of the Fast Pitch and Resilient Retreat's next steps!

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