According to the University of San Diego Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research 2017 State of Nonprofits report, 92 percent of San Diego nonprofits report annual earnings below $1 million. Additionally, 44 percent of nonprofit funds come from contributions.

This makes many of the nearly 11,000 501(c)(3) organizations in San Diego vulnerable to economic downturns and a multitude of other variables.

As a result, The San Diego Foundation and Mission Edge are identifying new and innovative ways to bring more financial stability and long-term sustainability to the positive work nonprofit organizations provide to strengthen our communities.

What is Social Enterprise?

One of those strategies is social enterprise.

Social enterprise utilizes commercial, revenue generating strategies, such as the sale of a product or service, to advance an organization’s social mission and financial sustainability. It is a powerful complement to fundraising and development.

Goodwill Industries is a prime example of an effective social enterprise model. By charging customers for products in its retail stores, Goodwill is able to diversify its revenue streams and avoid unstable reliance on donations and grants.

San Diego Accelerator and Impact Lab

Last summer, The Foundation and Mission Edge launched the San Diego Accelerator and Impact Lab (SAIL) to help nonprofits in the region learn how to build social enterprise strategies.

Nine local nonprofits, including Second Chance and Outside the Lens, participated in the 10-week SAIL experience designed to help organizations develop and grow sustainable revenue-based business models in alignment with their social missions. The lab culminated in a pitch event that offered the opportunity for select participants to present to potential funders.

While Second Chance won the $10,000 grand prize for its Youth Garden job training program, each nonprofit that participated took home a valuable learning experience as community leaders began the thinking process of implementing social enterprise strategies to support their missions.

The 2018 SAIL Cohort expects to produce similar experiences for participating nonprofits and social purpose businesses. This year’s goal is to highlight workforce development and health & wellness initiatives through supplemental programmatic opportunities.

Announced March 12, the 2018 SAIL Cohort includes:

Each participant will be paired with a Lead Mentor throughout the course of the accelerator. As business and organizational needs are identified, additional mentors with specific subject matter expertise will be available to support each participant.

The accelerator will culminate in a June pitch event that offers the opportunity for select organizations to present to potential funders.

Discussing the Value of Social Enterprise

Recently, our President & CEO Kathlyn Mead had the opportunity to discuss the value of social enterprise with SAIL stakeholders, including Mission Edge CEO Ken Davenport, Second Chance VP of Advancement and External Affairs Trisha Gooch and Outside the Lens Development Manager Zoe Heyman.

Watch a recording of the Facebook Live conversation below to learn more about social enterprise and how mission-driven organizations can capitalize on this revenue-generating model in the nonprofit sector.

Support the San Diego’s nonprofit community by empowering organizations to develop and grow sustainable, revenue-based business models in alignment with their social missions.

Donate to the Social Enterprise Fund