Knowledge sharing session boosts nonprofit business planning

Knowledge sharing session boosts nonprofit business planning

Posted on September 28, 2016 by Mike Oxman, Managing Partner and Principal, No Margin, No Mission™

We’ve all heard the expression “nothing good comes easy,” and for five entrepreneurial nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties, that certainly rings true:

·       Charlotte Players (Port Charlotte, Florida)

·       Florida Maritime Museum (Cortez, Florida)

·       Historic Spanish Point (Osprey, Florida)

·       Literacy Council of Sarasota County (Sarasota, Florida)

·       Manatee Players, Inc. (Bradenton, Florida)

If these organizations weren’t initially sure what they signed up for with Margin & Mission Ignition 2016, The Patterson Foundation’s earned income-initiative designed to boost entrepreneurial capacity, revenue, and mission impact, they quickly learned their participation wasn’t for the faint of heart.

After attending four educational labs, completing surveys, participating in interviews, working on homework, demonstrating alignment in leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture, not to mention building a compelling case to participate in an intensive 18-month earned income journey, they officially advanced to become the Margin & Mission Ignition Fantastic Five!

So their hard work was behind them…right?


It was just the beginning of a comprehensive process to bring leadership, board, staff, volunteers, donors, funders, and numerous other stakeholders together to engage in business plan development, implementation, and follow-up…unlike anything they had ever been through before.

So with nearly two months of business planning now behind them, the “Fantastic 5” came together last month for a lively, interactive, and highly engaging Knowledge Sharing Session to mark the midpoint of the first phase of work in their 18-month earned income journey.

Here is a sampling of what they shared about the valuable knowledge, learning, insights, observations, and insights they’ve gained as a result of their work to date:


What have you done to share your business plan work with your organization’s key stakeholders (e.g., Board, staff, volunteers, donors, others)?

“Volunteers are aware of our earned-income venture plans via announcements and a printed volunteer newsletter. We also just sent an e-newsletter update to ensure our 'snowbird' volunteers are well informed."

“Community members and local nonprofits have been updated about our earned-income venture at two different community meetings, and via 1:1 conversations.”

“We’ve been communicating about our earned-income venture via social media, with emphasis on Facebook and our newest addition, Twitter.”

“We issued a press release about the planning for our earned income venture…and an article was published in our local newspaper on August 24.”


What major insights or realizations have you had as a result of the business-planning process to date?

“We will need additional staff in order to grow our earned-income venture and achieve our business-plan goals.”

“The revenue-generating possibilities from our earned income venture could be even more extensive than we initially thought!”

“This very thoughtful approach to business planning has opened our minds to new ways of thinking!”

“Through business planning, we now realize that we must direct more of our promotion and marketing efforts to a broader geographic area…we need to ignore county lines and focus more on the right fit.”


What has changed (internally and externally) as a result of the business-planning work to date?

“This process has brought our small team closer together.”

“The business-planning process has encouraged us to think about all aspects of our earned income venture...not just the easy ones. We appreciate the due diligence as part of the business-planning process.”

“Through business planning, we’ve been introduced to new workplace technology, including LivePlan (business planning software), GoToMeeting (desktop sharing platform for virtual meetings), and ZOHO (CRM platform).”

“Thanks to business planning, one of our vendors has agreed to discount the price of their services to our organization…and their leader has agreed to serve on our board!”

“We have begun discussions with our Board Treasurer and bookkeeper to consider new ways to track our service agreement income and expenses.”


How are you taking advantage of this unique investment in your organization’s future? Have you had any early wins?

“We have developed greater institutional confidence through this process due to participation in Margin and Mission Ignition, and having a planned earned-income venture that we’re all excited about.”

“We have learned to take risks that we would not have otherwise taken had we not been a part of this initiative.”

“We have increased the fee we currently charge for one of our earned income offerings as a result of the business planning process.”

“We are now using our planned earned income venture in our messaging to potential donors, with some early wins: We received a $3,000 grant from one of our local community foundations to apply towards the facility for our planned earned-income venture. We were invited to apply for more in the next cycle. The local Chamber of Commerce is excited about our planned earned income venture, has offered to help us promote it, and invited us to apply for funding through one of their grant programs.”


What hurdles have you encountered in business plan development and how have you overcome them?

“We are still trying to clearly define the difference between marketing and sales. We have researched other organization’s strategies and plans and are trying to determine how to implement processes relevant to our work and mission.”

“Properly valuing our earned-income offerings…ensuring they are not underpriced in the marketplace.”

“It was initially challenging to carve out the needed time each week for staff and board to meet for business planning…but we have come to realize how important and valuable that time together is for the future of our organization.”

Want to learn more about earned income and related topics?

Read our guest posts for The Patterson Foundation.

Visit No Margin, No Mission’s™ website and resources page

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Follow No Margin, No Mission™ on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow the initiative on Twitter using #TPFMarginMission and #EarnedIncome.

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


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