Local Nonprofits Share Concepts for Social Enterprises

Central Ohio could soon see an influx of social enterprises from local nonprofits.

On Tuesday, October 25, five local nonprofits pitched their entrepreneurial ventures at the first annual Nonprofit Sustainability Showcase. The pitch came at the conclusion of the intensive, eight-month SE Catalyst program sponsored by the Center for Social Enterprise Development.

A social enterprise has the potential to create a steady, stable revenue stream for a nonprofit to reduce its reliance on grants and donations. The five-year projections for each of the proposed social enterprises ranged from $300,000 – $900,000 of annual, recurring revenue. It creates the question of what would happen if more organizations and nonprofits could create that kind of revenue?

The five in Central Ohio that are going to try include:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus
  • Gladden Community House
  • Community Shares of MidOhio
  • IMPACT Community Action
  • Educational Service Center of Central Ohio

Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus 

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus provide after school and summer programing for some 6,000 plus youth locally. It’s an area they know and in which they excel.

Another estimated 78,000 youth in Central Ohio youth ages 5-14 are disconnected from after school programming – a critical time of their day. Approximately 42,000 come from families in a financial situation to afford after school care.

With its social enterprise, Boys and Girls Clubs seek to close the gap.

“We at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus seek the opportunity, and feel the responsibility, to engage in optimization of fee-based after school programs for our youth,” says Doug Wolf, director of strategic initiatives.

The club plans to build on a program they have already created at the Upper Arlington Metro Center and identify other neighborhoods of opportunity.

Gladden Community House 

Franklinton’s Gladden Community House has long been focused on supporting families with a particular interest in youth services. A social enterprise will provide another way to serve not only children, but entire families.

“Treefort is a destination that seeks to enrich a child’s life while at the same time giving the parents a much-needed break,” says Joy Chivers, president & CEO of Gladden Community House.

Children have a constant need to be engaged in activities, and often times parents find it difficult to find stimulating environments that are both affordable and accessible. Treefort will offer a safe, common area for children to play as well as educational opportunities around science, art and technology. Meanwhile, parents can relax in a cafe atmosphere and enjoy coffee, snacks and WiFi.

“Treefort really is a place for families to come together,” Chivers says.

Community Shares of Mid Ohio

“You don’t know you’ve done it wrong until they come after you,” says Teresa Trost, executive director of Community Shares of MidOhio.

It’s a stark reality she heard from a nonprofit leader in regards to maintaining compliance. Nonprofits must meet state, federal and local regulations to keep their nonprofit status and many organizations struggle to do so.

Most employees of a nonprofit are focused on mission work and operating under the expectation that a bulk of the donations are going to advancing programs. Community Shares found it takes many valuable work hours away from helping the community when an employee is wading through compliance paperwork.

As a solution, “Community Shares will offer a fee-based service to manage a client’s filings,” Trost says. “For a one-time set up fee of $599, we will work with a client to register all their current compliance filings and all of their data. We’ll then charge an annual maintenance fee of $950.”

Community shares is targeting some 2,000 local nonprofits that have been established for three plus years with revenues between $100,000 and $2.5 million.

IMPACT Community Action 

“We have an affordability crisis,” says IMPACT Community Action CEO Bo Chilton. “There’s a deficit of 54,000 affordable housing units in Franklin County.”

IMPACT provides both emergency assistance and long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty and provide real opportunities for self-sufficiency. Through their social enterprise, IMPACT will further that mission by providing affordable housing units to the some 20,000 prospects it already serves annually.

As rents rise, low-income families may be spending more than half of their household income on rent. All it takes is one major crisis to send them into homelessness. Other individuals may have the means to pay rent but factors in their background that make them risky to a traditional landlord.

“IMPACT will provide rental housing that is approximately one third of our customer’s household income,” Chilton says.

The goal for year one is 25 units, with phase two integrating IMPACT’s workforce development programming to partner with positions in the construction trades for rehab projects.

Educational Service Center of Central Ohio

Stories dot the news of individuals with autism suffering adverse outcomes because a large portion of the population lacks the general awareness of how to interact with such individuals.

To curb that educational gap, Educational Service Center of Central Ohio presents ARISE 20/80. Based on the principle that 20 percent of inputs of an organization result in 80 percent of the outputs, “No one can know all there is to know about autism, but by familiarizing ourselves with the most critical 20 percent and applying that new knowledge to customer service, we can have a large influence on customer experiences, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction,” says Executive Director Tom Reed.

Businesses like municipalities, restaurnts and retailers should have a risk management strategy that aims to serve all customers equitably.

“Our solution is a mobile app that delivers short bits of high-quality, personalized content to front line customer service staff about how to effectively interact with and to serve individuals with autism,” Reed says.

Learn more about the SE Catalyst Program with an informational session at The Columbus Foundation on Wednesday, November 2. Details here