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Jun 09

Venturing Out

Posted on June 9, 2016 at 9:25 AM by Web Master

Social Enterprise Good Deed for the Day

Typically, a non-profit has tight purse strings. Revenue is seldom stable, but demand for services and costs to operate are constant. Despite the challenge of balancing the books, a non-profit maintains a hopeful outlook and researches ways to diversify its revenue.

A social enterprise is one trend that a non-profit might consider as a way to earn an income. A social enterprise is a business involved in the selling of goods or services. In order to be properly pursued, there must be a social aim, too. This means that there will be a monetary profit plus a positive change in peoples’ lives.

A social enterprise must be a well-researched idea that compliments and supports the non-profit’s mission. Ideally, the social agenda precedes the desire for money. Is there a product or service gap in the community that could be tied to your mission and result in a profit?

A social enterprise is a strategy that requires a lot of good sense. This type of business venture demands a substantial investment of time, start-up capital, and manpower. Board members must assess if the intended outcomes are worth the investment and risk.

A non-profit must have the proper business and legal structure to operate a social enterprise. A business plan is necessary and a business license is required. A social enterprise has paid workers, so an understanding of employment regulations is essential.

There are a multitude of products or services that a non-profit could consider as a business venture. Today, non-profits engage in food service, arts, crafts, consulting, training, retail, manufacturing, janitorial, landscaping, and the possibilities continue on, as long as the venture is subordinate to the non-profit’s mission. The business cannot detract from the non-profit’s resources.

Aside from potential monetary gain, a social enterprise can result in other advantages for the non-profit, such as boosting board members’ skills, enhancing the non-profit’s credibility and visibility, or creating jobs for clients and service-users. This blended return on investment can be very appealing to a board of directors.
Although budgetary constraints may be the initial and primary motivator to creating a social enterprise, it is the social capital that sets it apart from the mainstream marketplace. The financial return on investment is not guaranteed to loosen the purse strings, but who knows where the venture could go, if a calculated risk is never taken?

To learn more about social enterprise, these links may be useful:
Start and Grow a Social Enterprise
Defining Social Enterprise 
Key Concepts to a Social Enterprise
Social Enterprise Canada