Latent assets

Earned-income strategies represent opportunities for nonprofits.

To the editor:

[03.30.04] — Thanks for Barbara Goodmon’s good commentary in the Philanthropy Journal [Learning to fish, 03.18.04]. I appreciated both its content and sentiment.

At the Social Enterprise Alliance, we also speak with funders frequently about the need to assist nonprofits in learning “how to fish.”

We adopt a more focused view of “fishing”, however.

Beyond important efficiencies of operation, and more diverse and sophisticated fundraising programs, we believe the majority of nonprofits have latent assets that may be converted into revenue streams in support of their charitable missions.

This process begins with a conscious awakening to the reality and opportunity represented by earned-income strategies.

“Program revenues” already represent the largest source of income for the average nonprofit based on a summary of IRS Form 990 annual reports for nonprofits, but a purposeful managerial approach is required to recognize and exploit, in the best meaning of the word, the marketplace opportunities that stand before many nonprofits and open the door to greater independence from both governmental and charitable foundation funding sources.

Thanks again for your exhortation to United Way, though one can only hope that your message will be heard and understood across the vast landscape of nonprofits as well.

James N. McClurg, partner, Social Enterprise Alliance, Seattle office.

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