Blogs tagged with Financial sustainability

  • Paul Carttar, The Bridgespan Group
    Posted: July 2, 2014

    This blog is reposted with permission from The author, Paul Carttar, moderated a panel at this year's Social Impact Exchange conference. 

    Remarkably, the scaling of high-performing nonprofit organizations seems to have taken on a certain glamor. In our sector, we are typically eager to talk about such exciting topics as the design of promising interventions, the development of sophisticated organizational capacities, and, perhaps most alluring of all, the raising of growth capital from "investors" to fuel a program or organization's expansion or replication.

    Yet there is a sobering reality, an "unsexy" side to scaling that we too frequently avoid: with each upward ratchet in size, as a nonprofit expands facilities and hires more employees, it also increases the amount of money it must raise each year simply to maintain its operations. And if it can't do this, it can no longer build scale.

    Accordingly, I was pleased to see the recent Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Impact devote a significant chunk of time to the need to develop revenue models that enable growing nonprofits to thrive at each level of size attained. At the conference, I had the privilege of facilitating a plenary session on "Financial Sustainability at Scale" with several experts, who together provided foundational answers to four of the biggest questions on the subject:

  • By Stephen M. Pratt, Root Cause
    Posted: June 30, 2014

    At the Social Impact Exchange Conference on Scaling Impact, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Antony Bugg-Levine opened the Thursday morning plenary on Financial Sustainability with the seemingly provocative question, “Is scaling impact conceivable?” I say “seemingly” because this year’s Social Impact Exchange conference offered the prima facie bias that scaling impact is conceivable. I remain a skeptic. Despite the launch of venture funds and public initiatives like the Social Innovation Fund, the social impact market remains disorganized, lacking defined investment pools at different stages of capitalization.

    Bugg-Levine offered up a formula for sustainability that, on its face, is entirely reasonable:

  • Nell Edgington, Social Velocity
    Posted: June 30, 2014

    This blog is reposted with permission from The author, Nell Edgington was a panelist at this year's Social Impact Exchange conference on scaling impact.

    Last week I attended the 5th annual Social Impact Exchange Conference in New York City. It was an interesting gathering of funders, change makers and intermediaries all grappling with how to reach and sustain scaled social solutions.

    “Scale” is such a challenging concept, and as I mentioned earlier, there are many entities struggling with exactly what scale means. According to Heather McLeod Grant (author of Forces for Good) whose keynote address kicked off the conference, “scale” is no longer about growing individual organizations or addressing individual issues, but rather about building movements and networks.

    The idea of a networked approach to social change is not a new one (see the great Stanford Social Innovation Review article from 2008 by Jane Wei-Skillern and Sonia Marciano on this approach), but Heather underlined the importance of a more integrated and aligned approach to creating social change. I would have liked to see this idea taken further, perhaps with some of the Transformative Scale discussion that is happening elsewhere, included in this discussion.

  • Lisa R. Jackson, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, New Profit Inc.
    Posted: June 20, 2014



    As I have listened to sessions at this year’s Social Impact Exchange Conference looking for something to write this blog about, I am struck by the fact that I keep hearing about this being “a moment in time” for the sector.  From Heather McLeod Grant’s session on networks as the future for scale and impact in the sector, to the panel on Black Male Achievement and the pitches by organizations like Expeditionary Learning and the Center to Advance Palliative Care, we seem to collectively believe that this is a moment in time ripe for opportunity to knock the ball out of the park when it comes to scale.

    For palliative care, health reform has opened the doors for new ways of health care to be provided with a focus on quality of care.  The President has signaled that the country has permission to speak openly about race and bias opening the door for a diverse cross-sector movement focused on improving the lives of men and boys of color.  For nonprofits and donors, the appetite and imperative has arrived for relational strategies to drive scaled impact – and for both, a strategy that includes the growth of organizations and the leveraging of networks.

  • Vanessa Wilkins, Partners in Scale
    Posted: June 18, 2013

    The following blog post reflects on a breakout session that took place at the Social Impact Exchange's Symposium on Scaling Impact, June 17.

    How do you define sustainability? Reliable and repeatable revenue that covers the full cost of your enterprise and aligns with your mission – at least that’s how Kristin Giantris from the Nonprofit Finance Fund defined it at the “Financial Models: Achieving Sustainability at Scale” session at the Symposium on Scaling Social Impact Monday.

    Panelists Matt Aguiar from Reading Partners, a school tutoring program that’s grown from $2 million in revenue to $16 million since 2006, and David Carleton from Catalyst Kitchens, the business plan winner at last year’s conference, shared lessons from two very different financial models.

    At Partners in Scale, we work with clients looking to scale their impact. Even the most sustainable organizations struggle with how to fund the infrastructure they need to scale their model, and how to ensure sustainability for their programs at a much larger scale, often in different geographies.