Leveraging the Investment in Earned Income

Leveraging the Investment in Earned Income

Posted on August 08, 2016 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

ngoIn early 2015, The Patterson Foundation began the Margin & Mission Ignition initiative, an effort in partnership with national consulting firm and social enterprise No Margin, No Mission, to help entrepreneurial nonprofits in our region create earned-income plans to support their missions.

Throughout the year, six nonprofits completed 14 weeks of business-planning coaching; 14 weeks of implementation coaching; and monthly check-in calls – all for the purpose of generating an earned-income revenue stream. (The monthly check-in calls continue through 2016.) The Patterson Foundation's total investment throughout the course of the entire initiative is nearing $500,000.

For purpose of this blog, the last statement in the previous paragraph is most relevant. The investment in time and money made by The Patterson Foundation is significant. The good news is that the return on this investment has been noteworthy and each of these six organizations has benefitted from the process immensely.

So what does a good investor do after investing in a successful venture? Invest again of course. And that is what The Patterson Foundation has done.

In early 2016, we realized the six organizations that completed the Margin & Mission Ignition business planning and implementation training process were already “fully-trained.” This presented an opportunity to advance the process with these organizations because there would not be a learning curve. Plus, we knew they had the leadership and culture to pursue advanced opportunities. But, we did not know if they had the capacity, willingness and readiness to do this again. This was for them to tell us, not for us to decide.

So, what did we do?

In appreciation for all of the work each organization had done to this point, and because we recognized that the culture of these organizations had changed as a result of participating in the initiative, we offered each the opportunity to experience an advanced earned-income discovery process conducted by No Margin, No Mission.

This included 1.5 days of consulting to help these organizations “discover” additional opportunities and was offered at no cost and no obligation. It was a gift. Upon conclusion of the discovery process, each organization received a written report and a presentation of the findings.

Of the six groups, five accepted the offer to participate. Of these five, three decided they had the capacity, willingness and readiness to bring another earned income product/service to market. And so they begin again!

Author's Note: The Patterson Foundation and No Margin, No Mission continue to monitor and provide support to the six organizations that launched products/services as a result of Margin & Mission Ignition 2015. This ongoing support is necessary because introducing a new product/service is akin to starting a new business, so we know the failure rate is high. The three organizations that have taken advantage of the new earned-income project are continuing with the 2015 project and embarking on a new effort in 2016.

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


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