Photo: Margin & Mission Ignition’s “Fervent 4"

How Margin & Mission Ignition’s “Fervent 4” Successfully Launched or Grew Their Earned-Income Ventures

Posted on June 07, 2023 by Mike Oxman, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission™
Editor’s Note: Michael Oxman is a Managing Partner and Principal at No Margin, No Mission, a national consulting firm that helps nonprofits become stronger and more thrivable through earned income and social enterprise. Learn more about The Patterson Foundation’s Nonprofit Thrivability initiative here.

Launching or growing a successful earned-income venture is NOT for the faint of heart. Not only must an organization have a viable, mission-aligned business opportunity AND alignment in LWRCC, but it must also be willing to invest the considerable time, energy, and effort to make it succeed.

As proof, no organizations have demonstrated these success characteristics more than the “Fervent 4”. They’re a cohort of entrepreneurial nonprofits participating in Margin & Mission Ignition, part of The Patterson Foundation’s Nonprofit Thrivability initiative that helps NPOs boost revenue and mission impact through a deep dive into earned income and social enterprise.

So, let’s take a look at the Fervent 4 to understand the steps they took to achieve strong outcomes, impact, and excellence:

Step #1: They Started with a Strong, Viable, and Mission-Aligned Earned-Income Opportunity
  • Resilient Retreat launched The Retreat Sarasota, a new venue rental business for those who wish to host events, retreats, parties, weddings, and other gatherings in state-of-the-art facilities on 85 lush acres. All net proceeds benefit the mission to help survivors of abuse, first responders, and helping professionals heal the impacts of trauma on the mind, body, and spirit.
  • Selah Freedom launched Selah Consulting to provide training, consulting, technical assistance, and actionable solutions to organizations that wish to replicate the Selah Freedom model. All net proceeds support the mission to bring solutions to survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation.
  • Venice Main Street launched Shop Venice Mainstreet Online, a one-stop virtual marketplace that allows customers to shop the stores and businesses in Downtown Venice, FL, 24/7/365. All net proceeds support the mission to preserve and enhance the character, beauty, and economic vitality of historic Downtown Venice.

Step #2: They Developed a Business Plan

Having identified their respective business opportunities, each of the Fervent 4 developed a business plan for their venture. For 14 weeks, virtual meetings took place weekly that brought each organization’s ED / CEO, board, and staff together to work with No Margin, No Mission’s consultants, Michael Oxman and Larry Clark, plus TPF’s Fellows, Connor LaGrange and Michael Zimmerman.

With homework assigned between sessions, their goal was to apply rigor, discipline, and critical thinking to all aspects of the enterprise, carefully considering their competition, value proposition, target audience(s), pricing strategy, marketing plan, partnerships, 3-year financial projections, and more.

As part of this process, questions were raised, discussions were had, alternatives were shared, and solutions were arrived at, resulting in the creation of a blueprint that would allow each team to bring their business plan to life.

Step #3: They Raised Their Needed Startup or Growth Capital
A key component of the Fervent 4’s business planning process was identifying the startup or growth capital needed to launch or grow their enterprise. For their ventures to succeed, raising funds to cover an array of initial costs such as staffing, space rental, inventory, marketing, technology, equipment, and more would be important.

To accomplish this, the Fervent 4 participated in a series of “Fast Pitch” presentations, MMI’s kinder, gentler version of Shark Tank, to share their business plan highlights AND make a financial ask for startup or growth capital in front of a group of “Mission Impact Investors.”

Working with fundraising consultant Sara Leonard from the Sara Leonard Group, the Fervent 4 delivered compelling and heartfelt Fast Pitch presentations. Not only did they win their audiences over with powerful business ideas and plans but they collectively raised ALL of their needed startup and growth capital, thanks to generous support from their “Mission Impact Investors” and TPF’s SURPRISE 1:1 match. All totaled, the Fervent 4 generated more than $400,000 in funding!

Step #4: They Implemented Their Business Plan
With their business plans and financial resources in hand for implementation, the Fervent 4 were ready to move from planning to execution. As part of their continued MMI journey, weekly Zoom sessions and homework focused on taking action to bring a multitude of activities and tactics to life. Included among these were creating written job descriptions for new hires, building policies and procedures to guide business practices, developing new or improved websites, creating dedicated social media pages, securing inventory, purchasing software for business development, and more.

With each day that passed during these14-weeks, the teams saw tangible evidence of their business ventures taking shape. Not only were the Fervent 4 able to see the fruits of their labor, but they witnessed a number of affirming and rewarding “early wins” when their proverbial cash registers started to ring with the promise of more mission impact!

Step #5: They’re Tracking Their Progress to Deliver Results!
Now that the Fervent 4 have completed implementation of their business plans and proudly launched their new earned-income ventures OR positioned existing ones for expansion and growth, they’ve begun to track their progress and deliver results. With business plan goals in place for revenue and expense, mission impact, marketing, and operations, each team has established markers to help guide their efforts.

Running a business isn’t easy, so as the Fervent 4 continue through this phase of their earned-income journey, TPF remains committed to helping them succeed by providing continued MMI consulting support. Once a month for the next 2 years, each team will meet virtually with their MMI consultant to share results, discuss opportunities, address challenges, and celebrate successes.

We’re proud of the MMI Fervent 4 for EVERYTHING they’ve accomplished, and we look forward to what’s in store as they continue building their enterprises to boost revenue, mission impact, and thrivability!

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