Nonprofits get a lesson in business savvy

Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, Notes on Nonprofits

Nonprofits mean business. That’s the best way to sum up the recent Impact+ program presented by the Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence (INIE) and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation.
IMPACT+ is a six-week social enterprise competition to help nonprofits develop an earned income strategy that aligns with their mission. Eight nonprofits completed the program which included over 236 hours of instruction via six, three-hour classes, local case studies, one-on-one support from local experts, and a tour of Divvy Up socks.

Classes addressed topics such as identifying unrealized assets; developing a business plan, identifying and securing investors, and perfecting the pitch presentation.

Instructors and panelists including Kim Moore, Dominick Ardis, Russell Daws, Mike Campbell, Vincent Hunt, and other experts from the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, Small Business Development Center, FSU Sales Institute, Act House, Bulldog Strategies, and the Jim Moran Institute for Social Entrepreneurship shared their expertise.

I was pleased to serve as a volunteer coach along with Mary Bedford of Emergency Design & Development; Mickey Moore of Moore Business Strategies; Rachel Reichenbach of Resist Reimagine, and Jennifer Donald of MDCG Consulting. Brown Consulting provided eight hours of marketing consultation. 

Here’s a list of the participating nonprofits and a very brief description of their social enterprise: 

Oasis Center for Women & Girls: sale and marketing of Gather Box, a self-contained activity kit to host events that enable women to support each other with options to add services from women-led businesses. Oasis would receive a percentage of each kit sold. 

Aging with Dignity: Sale of Guardians Guide to Good Care, a conversation guide and training program for court-appointed guardians to advocate for the needs of “elder orphans” who have no family or friends and, due to dementia or an intellectual disability, are unable to advocate for their own needs. 

REfire instructor Rebecca Kelly, left, reviews common foodborne pathogens with student Justin Ferrell at the HOPE Community kitchen . The organization one first place at the IMPACT+ program. (Photo: Hali Tauxe/Democrat)

Big Bend Homeless Coalition/REFire Culinary: Yes Chef! Mobile, a food truck business that utilizes REFire culinary students who were formerly incarcerated to receive job skills, increase job placements, and reduce recidivism while serving fresh, locally sourced food at catered events and community festivals.
Goodwood Museum & Gardens: Pathways to Wellness, a program to lower workplace stress and improve health by marketing physical and mental health activities on Goodwood’s 21 acres to over 5,000 hospital and healthcare workers adjacent to their property and grounds.

Sustainable Tallahassee: a distribution program of compostable, competitively priced take-out boxes sold to fast-casual restaurants and food trucks to reduce waste, lower costs, and promote environmental sustainability.

Peyton Tuthill Foundation: Art of Hope, a program to produce and sell professionally produced CDs of music and artwork created by currently incarcerated individuals to fund scholarships and services for survivors of crime.

Florida Disabled Outdoors Association: a hub network and online reservation system to rent all-terrain personal mobility devices to increase access to outdoor recreational activities for people with disabilities. 

LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts: JumpstART, the sale of high quality, low cost art supply kits in an upcycled tote to students enrolled in art classes to fund scholarships for low-income students to attend art programs and summer camp. 

Judges for round one included Antonio Montoya of DOMI, Cristina Paredes of Office of Economic Vitality and Michael Eurich of Big Bend Hospice.They were impressed with the quality of the “philanthro-pitches” but had to narrow the eight participants to three finalists: Aging with Dignity, LeMoyne and Big Bend Homeless Coalition/REfire Culinary.

Judges for the final round included Dr. Jim Murdaugh, President of TCC, April Salter of Salter Mitchell, Yuh Mei Hutt of Golden Lighting, and Bruce Manciagli of Devoe Moore School of Entrepreneurship at FSU. Drum roll, please. The winners and their cash awards: First: REFire Culinary ($5,000); Second: Aging with Dignity ($3,000) and LeMoyne Arts ($2,000). 

IMPACT+ is the tip of the iceberg for investing in the business and entrepreneurial savvy that already exists within the nonprofit sector. While each project will require additional resources to be fully realized, the success of this pilot project demonstrates the untapped opportunity to connect existing resources within Tallahassee’s startup community to the nonprofit sector.

I encourage local investors and philanthropists to consider investing in one (or more!) of these enterprises or look for a similar opportunity that may exist within your favorite nonprofit. Just like IMPACT+, your investment could be the catalyst for turning an entrepreneurial idea to meet a community need into renewable revenue for years to come. That’s a win-win-win.  
Hats off to the board and staff of INIE, participating nonprofits, and all the volunteers and partners who helped make this program possible. For more information about these projects and IMPACT+, contact Felina Martin, Executive Director, at INIE at 850-201-9766 [email protected] or any of the participating nonprofits. 

Notes on Nonprofits is collaboratively written by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting and Kelly Otte, MPA, Pace Center for Girls/Leon.  Send your questions and comments to us at [email protected].

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