Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Talking fundraising, nonprofits and more on “The Powder Keg of Awesome”

I had the pleasure this morning of talking fundraising, nonprofits, and a variety of related topics on the Powder Keg of Awesome, the venerable and often irreverent internet radio podcast now in its third year on the air. Hosts Jerry Kennedy and Jackie Dotson fostered a free-flowing session along with producer Michael Clark, and the four-way dialogue touched on a variety of topics surrounding best practices for nonprofit organizations, the stumbling blocks many organizations run into as they attempt to grow, the cost-benefit analysis that should accompany any fundraising event, and the importance of working with the right consultant for your organization.

You can listen to the entire one-hour podcast from BlogTalkRadio right here.

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Twenty successful nonprofits started by students

It was great to hear earlier this week from Sophia Coppolla, a content manager for OnlineCollege.org, who shared with me an article on nonprofit organizations started by college students around the U.S.  After I wrote about college student Brittaney Khong and her work with the UCSD Student Foundation recently, I really enjoyed learning about some other examples of highly motivated and entrepreneurial students working to make the world a better place by helping others less fortunate than themselves, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Below is the story Sophia shared, which can be found in its original form at OnlineCollege.org

An Organized Mess - Nazareth College, Rochester, NY

An Organized Mess – Nazareth College, Rochester, NY
A group of Nazareth students organized craft and classroom supplies to help RCSD School 41 prepare for their first day.

Colleges have always been hotbeds of idealism, where gifted minds, too young to be jaded, dream of better futures they want to bring into being. At the same time, one of our culture’s most widely promoted values has been the entrepreneurial spirit, especially in recent years. In the private sector, spinoffs of research done at institutions like MIT and Stanford have shaped our modern economy, taking companies like Google and Facebook from dorm rooms to the NASDAQ. Many business schools have recently made a significant shift in emphasis from molding middle management to acting as incubators for start-ups. So it’s no surprise that innovative ventures are actively being created, fostered, and rewarded in the nonprofit zone as well. Here are 20 amazing philanthropic organizations that began as student projects and are now going on to change their communities and the planet: Continue reading

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How to build the perfect philanthropy

Five simple thoughts – with examples – in clear, concise language in this piece…a great primer for anyone working in the nonprofit world.

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What Nonprofits Can Learn from Entrepreneurs (reblog)

Very apt comparison between nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs. Nonprofit organzations – while ‘not for profit’ – are still businesses, and their leaders are quite often (and necessarily) risk-takers. The most successful are often the most entrepreneurial in their approaches.

Fundly Blog

While the definition of entrepreneur is “an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative,” I consider many nonprofit leaders to be a type of entrepreneur who sacrifices the known to reap a harvest of the betterment of humanity. Risk and initiative are certainly characteristics of every philanthropic leader that I know, and the investment that they commit to a cause surpasses any dollar amount a checkbook can hold. However, there are a few things that nonprofit leaders can learn from successful entrepreneurs; after all, business acumen is the crux upon which social good can be performed.

Is There a Market for Your Product?

While most nonprofits aren’t selling a product in the traditional sense, they are selling their ideals, their burden for a cause, and methods for solving a problem. First of all, does the community you are seeking to help in fact want your help? As a nonprofit, focus…

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The Cupcake-baking Philanthropists

Excellent example of the inter-generational differences between ‘traditional’ philanthropists and the new, younger generation emerging today…talk of earned revenue financing micro-loans for those in need certainly is a different dialogue from what traditional philanthropy has been about in the past.

Giving Well

Last week I was sitting in Manhattan with four extraordinary women.  Down the table from me was Jennifer Buffet, President and Co-chair of the NoVo Foundation; Chair and CEO of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Catherine B. Reynolds; Josefina Vázquez, Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund; and Karen Osborne, President of The Osborne Group.  We were panelists charged with discussing “the changing face of philanthropy” for the Sixteenth Annual Philanthropic Round Table on Women and Philanthropy convened by Miss Hall’s School and faced with an knowledgeable and engaged audience.

Those of us tagged as “experts” charged forth into discussion about the impact of the economic downturn on philanthropists, we called for private funders to consider untraditional partners such as government or business, we challenged the funding community to take more risks and be more transparent about our failures.  We discussed philanthropy’s role in economic development, the effect of violence against…

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Philanthropy Doesn’t Fund The Status Quo

I was at a dinner recently with a group of educators and administrators – high school principals, school district superintendents, a college dean – and the discussion, as one might expect, veered into the tremendous challenges facing public school districts in the current budget climate in California.  While we all lamented the fact that in public education all are being forced to do more with less – less staff, less resources, more demands – there are no easy solutions to this dilemma.

As the old saying goes, challenges present opportunities. As we sat around the table, the discussion started to focus on how schools and districts might work together, on how higher education and K-12 districts in the same area could partner to sustain programs, provide vital services to students and teachers both, perhaps even seek external funding for such ideas.

As the discussion turned to fundraising, the first comments focused on the need for private funding just to sustain what schools are already doing. There was disappointment in the fact that corporate partners and philanthropic foundations did not seem to have interest in contributing funds to the region despite doing so in other regions. And there were no clear answers as to how or why this “oversight” was occurring. Continue reading

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New Problems Require Entrepreneurial Thinking

For the past few years, California Community Colleges (and public higher education in general) have been through the budgetary wringer. Year after year, budget cuts continually compromise both the quality of the education and the quantity of classes provided and students served. It’s no wonder, then, that colleges are becoming more innovative in their approach to conducting the business of educating students.

For a number of community colleges in California, thinking and acting entrepreneurially is becoming an act of necessity. Most colleges or districts have their own independent foundations (with a total of 92 independent community college/district foundations in California at last count), which serve to augment public dollars with privately raised funds. Continue reading


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