SocialVentures Announces 2018 Nonprofit Catalyst Program Cohort

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The 2018 cohort meets to kick off the Nonprofit Catalyst Program. Photo provided by SocialVentures.

SocialVentures has selected five nonprofit organizations to participate in its third Nonprofit Catalyst Program. The 2018 cohort participants include: First English Lutheran Church, Freedom a la Carte, Healing Broken Circles, See Kids Dream and Victory Ministries/Center of Hope.

SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Catalyst Program begins with an intensive, nine-month immersion initiative to help Central Ohio nonprofits who wish to develop sustainable, social enterprise ventures. The nonprofit organizations are selected based on their readiness, willingness, and capacity to devote significant staff time and resources to development of a new venture through group participation.

“With donor dollars remaining flat or even decreasing for many organizations, nonprofits today are presented with the challenge to identify new sources of revenue to support the growing demand for mission-driven services,” said Allen Proctor, president and CEO, SocialVentures. “SocialVentures works with Nonprofit Catalyst participants to develop new revenue-generating ventures to stabilize the organizations financially, and to ultimately empower them to increase the impact they make in our communities.”

The program integrates a group cohort model approach coupled with customized support for each individual participating organization. The program combines classroom instruction with coaching, technical assistance, and the real-world application of tools, approaches and principles to develop social enterprise ventures. CauseImpact LLC, a Columbus-based consultancy, will deliver the instruction and support components of SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Catalyst Program.

Throughout the course of Nonprofit Catalyst, each organization will build a special team devoted to the process, who will participate in group training sessions with the entire cohort, and work to evolve and deliver a formal written plan of action that is ready for launch. The cohort participants will also have access to special sessions with community subject matter experts.

“For years, our organization has discussed plans to expand our catering social enterprise by opening a Freedom a la Cart café,” said Paula Haines, executive director, Freedom a la Cart. “SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Catalyst is walking us through the steps to fully assess and develop this new venture. The resources and tools provided have already proven to be extremely valuable. We look forward to fully developing a feasible plan that will set us up for a successful launch.”

At the end of the nine-month initiative, each participating organization will present a final plan to a panel of experts. Participants will share their presentations with the community at SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Sustainability Showcase event, scheduled for early 2019. Beyond that event, the cohort will continue to meet periodically to keep each other appraised of their progress and to provide ongoing support.

“See Kids Dream has wanted to start a social enterprise for several years,” said Laura Grindle, executive director of See Kids Dream. “However, our internal resources are already at maximum capacity, so dedicating a staff person to learn about social enterprise and attempt an unproven approach seemed too big a risk for us to take. That’s why we were so thrilled to learn of the Catalyst program. The process has already been developed, so we can focus on creating and implementing a plan, knowing that we have a team of experts who’ve been down this road before. We’re excited to see the process unfold!”

SocialVentures provides cause-driven organizations with training, education, networking opportunities and mentorship on topics related to social enterprise to help conceive and launch new and innovative earned-revenue opportunities designed to realize impactful, sustainable, mission-driven social change.

Nonprofit sustainability requires increased reliance on earned revenues to strengthen nonprofits’ balance sheets, protect them from fluctuations in philanthropic gifts, and stabilize their mission activities during fluctuations in the economy. Social enterprise is an emerging solution to provide new sources of earned revenues to enhance sustainability.

The 2016 Catalyst participants included Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, Community Shares of Mid Ohio, Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, Gladden Community House and IMPACT Community Action. The 2017 cohort featured the Center for Balanced Living, Columbus International Program with US Together (these two organizations merged under US Together while participating in the Catalyst program), Equality Ohio, Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, and YMCA of Central Ohio.

“Our team benefited greatly from the Catalyst experience,” said Brian Kridler, senior vice president of strategy and innovation, YMCA of Central Ohio. “We have no shortage of ideas, but the opportunity to take an idea through a thorough vetting process and to come out the other end with a fully developed business plan really made the difference for us.”

For more information about SocialVentures and its Nonprofit Catalyst Program, contact Allen Proctor by calling 614-208-5403, or sending an email to info@socialventurescbus.com.


SocialVentures advances remarkably good businesses that intentionally integrate social impact as a non-negotiable component of their business model. Founded as the Center for Social Enterprise Development in June 2014, SocialVentures aims to develop and sustain a thriving ecosystem that supports social enterprises and social entrepreneurs from initial concept to sustained financial viability and creation of significant social impact. Learn more at socialventurescbus.com.