With the economic recovery still struggling to gain traction three years after the financial crisis, a growing number of nonprofit organizations are exploring and/or launching profit-making initiatives as a way to boost income, the Washington Post reports.
At consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton's recent conference in McLean, Virginia, small charities received management and fundraising advice, with a particular focus on earned-income ventures. One panelist, Mike Curtin, CEO of D.C. Central Kitchen, advised nonprofit leaders to approach their work like a business, adding that if they didn't they "[would] not...be successful."
Far from a new idea, earned income has fueled the growth of large nonprofits like the Girl Scouts and Goodwill. At D.C. Central Kitchen, Curtin helped launch a venture to help make ends meet when the stock market nosedived in 2008, buying blemished produce at a discount from local farmers and reselling it at cost to local restaurants. More recently, the Latino Economic Development Corporation, which provides low- to moderate-income Latinos in the region with educational and financial tools, sold its financial services center to an El Salvador-based credit union for $30,000, but kept a 10 percent stake in the center worth an estimated $10,000.
As in the for-profit sector, not all ventures will be successful, noted a number of panelists at the conference. "There's a lot that goes into it," said Community Wealth Ventures director Summer Spencer, who moderated the panel. "You really have to do an assessment."