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Jean Block

About Jean

Social Enterprise: Why Doesn't Everybody Do It?

Why wouldn’t a nonprofit organization jump at the opportunity to earn unrestricted revenue by launching a social enterprise program? What’s keeping them in the old mode of ‘charity-think’?

I am thinking that much of what stands in the way of progressive thinking in the majority of nonprofits is habit. Habit that is reinforced by thinking such as:

  • “Things aren’t good right now, but they’ll get better if we can just wait it out.”
  • “The next fundraiser will be big and will bail us out.”
  • “We’ll write more grant applications. One of them is sure to hit.”
  • “If only the board would fundraise, that would help.”
  • “We have no choice. We’ll just have to cut staff and do more with less.”
  • “We can’t earn money. We’ll lose our nonprofit status.”

The old charity-think assumes that nonprofits have to wait for handouts. They have to rely on the generosity of others to sustain themselves, and that just doesn’t make sense anymore.

That’s operating from a position of scarcity rather than potential abundance. And it’s defeatist!

Instead, I think that nonprofits have to get out of old habits, stand up tall, realize their missions are important and take control of their own capacity, at least to some extent.

So what’s getting in the way? Fear of change? Fear of failure? Misunderstanding about how to earn money? Lack of planning?

I’m curious to know the reasons why more nonprofits don’t jump into the water, even just the shallow end of the ocean of earned revenue opportunities that exist.

Your thoughts? Have you tried it? Were you successful? If you failed, what were the causes of failure?


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