Yale backs nonprofit enterprise

Citing a need to boost entrepreneurial activity by nonprofits through better business planning and the combined know-how of academic research and real-world practice, the School of Management at Yale University has teamed up with two foundations to establish a new Partnership on Nonprofit Ventures.

Funded with $4.5 million from the Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, the partnership has launched an online resource center featuring research and business tools for nonprofits pursuing commercial ventures.

The partnership also is launching a national business plan competition for nonprofit organizations that will include a three-day conference in May 2003, with $100,00 in seed capital and hundreds of hours in business-planning consultation contributed to each of four winner.

The center also released a survey, conducted by two of its deputy directors and commissioned by Pew, that looked at revenue generation by nonprofits.

Arts and culture organizations are more likely than others to operate earned-income ventures, which are more likely to be successful when operated by groups that are older and have bigger staffs and budgets than other groups, said the survey, which was based on responses of 519 nonprofits that completed an online form.

Business planning is critical, the authors say.

“Sound business planning has a significant impact on the success of a venture, yet we learned that only half of those operating ventures actually wrote business plans before launching their businesses,” they say.

“Business planning assistance, in the form of targeted business analysis, market research and strategic planning, could be a valuable resource and critical ingredient to ensure success,” they say. “Such assistance would certainly increase the capacity of those that are currently operating ventures and encourage those that are not to begin exploring opportunities to do so.”


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