Fueling the entrepreneurial spirit for a nonprofit serving the Latino community

Fueling the entrepreneurial spirit for a nonprofit serving the Latino community

Posted on July 08, 2015 by Hector Tejeda

Editor's Note: UnidosNow is part of a group of organizations in our region that attended a series of educational labs about earned income strategies, which was supported by The Patterson Foundation. The organization is sharing its perspective about what it learned and how it might inform the organization's future.

UnidosNow is a nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income Latino students achieve their dream of going to college. Recently, we realized that we needed to reduce our dependence on community grants and corporate contributions, but we did not know how to start. Then, out of nowhere, we were presented with an opportunity to participate in a series of educational labs supported by The Patterson Foundation (TPF).

The goal of these labs, which were presented by No Margin, No Mission as part of The Patterson Foundation's Margin & Mission Ignition initiative, was to educate nonprofits about earned-income opportunities that could diversify revenue streams and lead to more sustainable operations.

The No Margin, No Mission consulting team did a wonderful job of guiding us through a process of identifying earned-income opportunities, while also assessing our readiness to take on this entrepreneurial challenge. These labs allowed us to get away from our day-to-day operations and address the strategic imperative of diversifying our revenue. The consultants presented examples of innovative earned-income approaches used by other nonprofits; in addition, other participants in the workshops shared best practices, and that really opened up our minds.

We identified several opportunities that were aligned with our mission and leveraged our core competencies, but the consultants then challenged our ability to actually implement these ideas.

Did we have funding? 

Were we committed at every level of the organization? 

Did we have the capacity to implement with excellence? 

This process helped us to realize that we needed to stay laser focused and not stray too far from what we do best. We landed on an opportunity that excited us, and we decided to submit an application to The Patterson Foundation to participate in the earned-income planning and implementation phase of Margin & Mission Ignition. Unfortunately, our project coordinator resigned at the worst possible time, and we were not able to replace her in time to participate in the next stage of the process.

We learned a valuable lesson about the risks associated with entrepreneurialism, but we are not deterred.  We will still be able to apply many of the lessons learned during the labs, and look forward to participating in future programs.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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