Editor's Note: Kristen Theisen, chief development officer of Meals on Wheels PLUS Manatee, shares the impact of the No Margin, No Mission earned-income business planning process.
The opportunity to work with No Margin, No Mission on developing a plan for earned income came at the perfect time for Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee. Our Renaissance on 9th facility officially opened in 2008 with the purpose of providing a location for active adults over 50 to maintain their health while offering catering and event rental services to generate income.
While this seemed to be an ideal plan, the next five years were a tug-of-war between using nonprofit sentiments and hard business tactics. Do we appeal to charity-minded community members or discerning consumers? Without having a firm plan of attack in place, growth was slow and revenue was not at the anticipated level. Staff and leadership had begun to feel as if they were spinning their wheels, and a change was needed.
When Mike Oxman and Larry Clark of No Margin, No Mission visited Renaissance on 9th for the first time, they immediately saw its unrealized potential. Mike guided the leadership team through the business planning exercise with weekly conference calls, and it soon became evident that Renaissance on 9th was uniquely positioned to fill a void in the Bradenton-area’s catering and event market.
We identified strengths and opportunities, realizing that adequate resources had not been allocated to promoting them. Somehow, Meals on Wheels PLUS needed to make an investment in itself to promote Renaissance on 9th and ensure community awareness. The business plan proposed the addition of a dedicated staff member and enhanced marketing, which the board of directors fully supported. The plan is being implemented and all involved are eager to see the results of their efforts.
As a result of the business planning process with No Margin, No Mission, leaders at Meals on Wheels PLUS realized that there is nothing wrong with operating a nonprofit with strong business tactics – in fact, there should be a business focus to ensure the success of the mission. If nonprofits are to continue providing their important services, they must believe in their missions enough to make investments in themselves. Thank you to The Patterson Foundation and Community Foundation of Sarasota County for fostering an environment where business and charity go hand in hand.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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