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Social Enterprise for Nonprofits

 In Blog

This blog post was contributed by Nicole Scott, Community Outreach Manager for the Partnership. We will be offering a Breakfast Series panel on Social Enterprise on April 25. Click here to read more and register.

Girl Scout Cookies, Homeboy Industry Chips, Greystone Bakery, 5000 Pies- what do these all have in common besides being delicious eats to fill your kitchen with? They are all examples of Social Enterprises!

A Social Enterprise broadly encompasses incorporating or applying commercial, revenue-generating solutions to tackle society’s most pressing social problems.  Often spearheaded by those that believe in a double or triple bottom line, the profits derived (all or some), are then turned towards advancing social, environmental and humanitarian issues.

Here in California, nonprofits are a large and vital part of the economy, playing a crucial role in the lives across our communities. Many will agree, that we find ourselves at another juncture of sector resilience testing.  Many are being forced to look at other avenues for securing funding, sustainability and financial stability, with the increase in competition, political upheaval and a wavering economic state.  Ideally, social enterprise can provide a much needed vehicle for nonprofits to achieve financial sustainability. It can potentially enable them to find innovative ways to support themselves financially, instead of relying solely on grants, donations and sweat equity. It can provide a diversified and expanded base of support to meet the ever growing needs our sector has and help sustain operations in the long term.

Whether a social enterprise is embedded, integrated or external to a nonprofit’s organization, the earned income can provide a source of funding that can enable:

  • Self-sufficiency and alternative revenue options
  • Reduced reliance on external funding sources (grants, donations, etc)
  • Diversified offerings that can strengthen your organization
  • Increased visibility and image elevation of your organization

Ultimately, while Social Enterprise is not a new concept, even for the social sector, it continues to push its way to be integrated and better accepted as an economic solution and option here in Southern California.  Case in point, is evident in last year’s LA County Board of Supervisors passing a motion unanimously, 5-0, to include Social Enterprises in the LA County Utilization Plan. The potential opportunities that are coming about in sector and the potential alignment in new ways with social enterprise options are truly exciting, and I look forward to seeing how our communities embrace this new wave of change and possibility!

As with any potential organizational change, it’s always recommended to seek the guidance and support of qualified industry experts to ensure it’s the most efficient, mission driven, option for your organization.

This blog post was contributed by Nicole Scott, Community Outreach Manager for the Partnership. We will be offering a Breakfast Series panel on Social Enterprise on April 25. Click here to read more and register.

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