There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. The majority of these mission based organizations have annual operating revenues of $2 to $3 million. Some take the risk of growing beyond that size but many remain at their current size quietly, yet significantly, serving their communities. I have had the privilege of supporting a number of nonprofit organizations with leaders who are true social entrepreneurs.
Founders and leaders of nonprofit organizations are visionaries with passion and commitment to solve issues that need fixing in our society. Many nonprofits operate having 3-6 months of cash on hand at best. They take on the risk of making commitments and hiring staff to deliver their mission not knowing exactly their future sources of income. The only upside they seek is to expand their mission to serve as many as they possibly can.
Unlike a good or service in the for profit world that can steadily gain traction and market share, the funding for nonprofits is very cyclical and unpredictable. These organizations have to be flexible and nimble adjusting their spending programs as funding decisions are made. Over the years, many nonprofits have creatively diversified their funding streams to earn revenues beyond the traditional forms of philanthropy.
I encourage us all to engage with a nonprofit organization we feel aligned with offering assistance where we can whether it be a contribution of dollars or time. One that I have truly enjoyed serving and represents the best of social enterprise is REAL School Gardens. You can learn more about this success story at www.realschoolgardens.org.