Prevent Blindness Florida explores earned-income strategies

Prevent Blindness Florida explores earned-income strategies

Posted on November 05, 2014 by Joanne Olvera Lighter

Prevent Blindness Florida was given the gift of working with No Margin, No Mission, a national consulting practice that helps nonprofits diversify revenue, through a grant from the Allegany Franciscan Ministries Tampa Bay Commission. The challenge for our organization was to reflect our mission – to prevent blindness and preserve sight – and develop high-revenue business strategies with a small, mission-dedicated staff.

Larry Clark and Michael Oxman of No Margin, No Mission, and a committee from Prevent Blindness Florida started with the idea of selling lighted reading glasses, fondly known as “lighted readers,” through an online store. This concept seemed like a lot of work for such small usage, so during our weekly coaching calls with No Margin, No Mission, Larry challenged us to research what other vision products we could sell. We would have to consider how we would get traffic to visit the store and purchase products.

Following some online research, we found an unfilled market niche to give customers a one-stop vision site for:

1) well qualified information about vision correction or protection

2) information about how to select the product that fits the need

3) offer the “best of class” products for sale

This parlays our prestige as the country’s oldest vision public-health agency into the marketplace. When we decided that the store would reside on a newly launched agency website that would integrate mission and margin, the concept began to gel. For instance, we decided we can promote our “Month Of” vision awareness campaigns and integrate the campaign subject with sales efforts.

Our business, dubbed, will launch in the spring -- if we find investors.  To get the buzz going, we will partner with 15 of Florida’s 59 AAA retail stores for a “soft launch” of the lighted readers, which will also be available on our Prevent Blindness Florida website. We will also partner with Magnifying Selections for half of our “best of class” vision products … and they will provide warehousing and fulfillment services for all products.

Larry and Michael played the critical role of keeping us on task with their weekly calls, questioning how we were calculating expenses, and encouraging us to think big. Coming to the strategic decision to operate the store on a new integrated website solved a number of mission issues and will help develop vigorous social media to attract customers while educating people about the need to protect their vision through all ages and stages. The use of LivePlan, a business planning software, pushed us to do in-depth inventory sourcing, research, develop the retail arrangements with AAA and Magnifying Selections, and work through the warehousing and fulfillment details and costs.

We now have a complete business plan with an investment need of $80,000. We believe we can realize a profit of around $250,000 within three years. The plan met with wide approval at the recent Fast Pitch presentation in Sarasota, and we are in discussion with potential investors. Focused discussion, in-depth analysis, and marketing savvy – these talents of No Margin, No Mission helped us articulate a plan that we would not have attempted on our own, and exposed us to a broad market of potential investors.

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