Entrepreneurial Spirit for Exponential Social Impact




With more than 6,000 nonprofits in Central Texas, we know that a sustainable nonprofit must be innovative, collaborative, impactful, and entrepreneurial. Yes, entrepreneurial.

As an effective nonprofit leader, you already appreciate the importance of both social impact and financial performance to advance your mission and achieve sustainability. However, while an organization may have successfully operated for years relying entirely on philanthropy, they may find themselves unable to maximize their social impact without continued financial growth.

Bridging the Philanthropic Divide

Charitable giving has remained relatively consistent throughout the past 40 years. Approximately 2 percent of our national GDP is contributed as philanthropy. We simply can’t count on this number to suddenly increase and meet the growing needs of nonprofits.

Grants and individual donations will always be a core funding-model within the social sector, however relying only on these revenue streams may limit organizational capacity. Further, a dependency on philanthropy may unjustly withhold the philanthropic revenue available to nonprofits without other funding options.

To overcome this disconnect, many nonprofit leaders encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and share business expertise among staff  and board to develop new funding streams and maximize social impact.

Social Impact through For-Profit Thinking

We in the nonprofit sector need to embrace entrepreneurial thinking because it is our fundamental focus to maximize social impact. Solving a problem by helping one family obtain housing or one young person achieve independence is an admirable goal worthy of recognition. For many, yielding measurable results within a core focus area is achieving the mission, regardless of reach. But what if you could do more to increase your social impact?

Perhaps you feel the need is too great or the situation is too bleak to be effective through traditional funding models.  If your organization is intent on making a greater social impact you might consider Earned Revenue Models to increase sustainability and reduce dependency on traditional funding sources.

At Mission Capital, we have supported numerous organizations in developing such models. Most recently, five nonprofits graduated from our Mission Accelerator. BookSpring, CareBOX Program, Con Mi MADRE, EcoRise, and Goodwill Central Texas dedicated the past five months designing innovative programs to maximize their impact, develop new revenue streams, and achieve greater sustainability. Other local nonprofits, including College Forward, Easter Seals, St. Vincent de Paul and Multicultural Refugee Coalition are also well on their way to greater sustainability through the advancement of their innovative funding models.

Earning sustainable revenue by delivering services core to your mission can and should be explored. Understanding where your organization is on this continuum is equally important as developing a savvy business model. Key questions when considering an earned revenue offering include:

  • Is the organization, healthy, stable and ready to adapt to change?
  • Is there alignment among key stakeholders?
  • Does the infrastructure support significant growth?
  • Is there a clear fit between the mission and the business strategy?
  • Do we have a clear business case and unique value proposition?
  • Do we understand the market, including what our customers will be willing to pay, competition and future trends?

At Mission Capital, we support nonprofits to better understand alternative revenue structures, ideate potential opportunities, identify the most viable models to achieve sustainability and assess the organization’s overall readiness While there are many ways to develop an effective earned-revenue offering, a successful model should always remain focused on your mission and hold true to the goal of achieving greater social impact.

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