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Building High Impact Organizations for Social Enterprises and Non-Profits

General Assembly

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)

New York, United States

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Session Four (4/24/2012) Ended $35.00 $2.74

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Event Details

Building High Impact Organizations: Creating Financial Sustainability for Social Enterprises and Nonprofits // BUSINESS 351

Social Innovators Collective + General Assembly 

Next session meets April 10th from 8:00 - 9:30 pm

This series was produced by Shana Dressler, Co-founder, Social Innovators Collective

The startup phase of any venture is exhilarating. But who’s talking about how many actually succeed? Being named Fortune Magazine’s most promising social enterprise of 2012 or winning a large grant does not ensure you’ll be in business next year. 

It’s time to talk about what happens when the rubber hits the road and the real work begins. The emerging phase of one’s enterprise building is where most people’s initiatives fail. Over 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years due to lack of experience or insufficient capital.

Though no exhaustive research has been done on the failure of startup/emerging nonprofits, it’s safe to say it’s not a pretty picture. So why is this happening?

Most founders get caught up in their programs and missions at the expense of building healthy social businesses. Some nonprofit founders don’t even realize that they are running a nonprofit corporation. And what’s needed? First and foremost, a strategic plan. If you don’t figure out where your funding is going to come from to pay your salary, staff, office expenses, and program overhead you are doomed.

For many, the day-to-day duties of running a business is what interests them least, but understanding what’s needed and putting systems in place is what will keep your doors open so you can do the meaningful work you’ve chosen.

This workshop series have been designed for anyone contemplating or currently working for a nonprofit organization or social enterprise – entrepreneurs, consultants, city organizers, marketing executives, lawyers, and students will all benefit. Whether you’re in the early stages of planning a new organization or have been putting off thinking about financial sustainability for years, now is the right time to tackle these key issues in a friendly, supportive setting.

  • A checklist of what a founder needs to best ensure success
  • Ten reasons why non-profits and social enterprise organizations fail
  • For the large number of organizations and companies that fail, how could the founder have stopped the organization’s impending demise
  • A practical checklist that anyone can use to make sure their organization is on the right track
  • Tools to help guide founders in planning and articulating their organizations’ value
  • Insight into how funders evaluate early stage social enterprises and nonprofits
  • A new network of social-venture savvy peers committed to leading healthy social enterprises and nonprofit organizations
  • Case studies on a great turn-around efforts
  • Access to industry leaders who are committed to the financial health of up-and-coming social good organizations


Week One / What Non-Profits Need to Know to Survive 

The birth of every nonprofit starts with a founder’s deep commitment to a cause that moves them. Programs are created, paperwork is filed, but unlike a business, it’s rare to find a nonprofit with a strategic plan in place that articulates financial goals. In 2011, the National Center for Charitable Statistics reported that nonprofit budgets were “cut to the bone” and that their fundraising results didn’t improve over the past year. Few early stage or emerging nonprofits have a clear plan of action around their fundraising strategies. Why is this a major problem? Funding is increasingly hard to come by and the lack of a plan leads to almost certain failure. 
Knowing all this, what can a startup and emerging founder do to keep their doors open? Enter Matthew Klein, the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Foundation New York and adjunct professor at NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches courses on philanthropy and the nonprofit capital market. 
During this session Matt will break down how a start-up nonprofit can think about long-term sustainability, considering not just the tactics of fundraising but also the general attributes which successful organizations are able to demonstrate to attract resources.

*This class has been designed for nonprofits, however those interested in social enterprise will also benefit from its content. 
What a student will take away:

- Insight into how funders evaluate early stage nonprofits
- Tools to help guide founders in planning and articulating their organizations’ value
- Case studies of nonprofits that Blue Ridge has incubated and their pathways to sustainability
Matthew Klein is the Executive Director and first staff person of Blue Ridge Foundation New York. Blue Ridge is New York City’s social innovation incubator, providing start-ups with funding, space, hands-on management assistance, and in-kind support to produce solutions for advancing social and economic mobility. Blue Ridge is focused now on helping to build new organizations that apply digital technology and data to advance equal opportunity in New York City and beyond. Matt is also an adjunct professor at NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches courses on philanthropy and the nonprofit capital market.  

Week One / Identifying A Winning Business Model and Revenue Stream 
No business plan is ever exactly right. Social Entrepreneurs launching a new venture need to constantly make adjustments as they adjust to an ever-changing landscape and learn from their mistakes. The difference between success and failure over the long term is a mix of how close to right you are at the start, how quickly you can adjust along the way, and how fast you burn through your capital. 
In this fast paced 90 minute class we’ll look at ways to evaluate your existing business model, find sources of revenue, make sure you’ve got the capital it will take to get to sustainability. 
We’ll explore questions like: Will my enterprise be able to make enough money to grow? Do I have enough cash to make it to sustainability? How can I lower my burn rate? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more from Andrew Greenblatt, a successful serial Social Entrepreneur. He is also an adjunct professor at New York University.
This class has been designed for those interested in social enterprises.
What a student will take away
- An analysis of your current burn rate and prediction how long you have to reach sustainability
- Tools for testing your assumptions concerning future revenue streams
- Ideas for buying time as you go through your earliest start-up phase

Andrew Greenblatt is currently involved in two young companies. He is the Founder and President of Vendorboon, LLC, a company that uses the purchasing power of trade and profession associations to support and encourage socially responsible vendors.  He is the Strategic Vice President of Benestream, Inc., a company that helps employers of low wage workers apply for food stamps. Andrew is also an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service where he teaches a course in Social Entrepreneurship.  He has made a career pushing the envelope in a variety of socially responsible ventures.  

Week Two / How to Run a World-Class Organization: One Day at a Time (4/10)

No great nonprofit or social enterprise was ever built on a great idea alone. In fact, if you run out of money, your passion alone will not keep you in business. There’s a lot that needs to be aligned for success, but one thing that’s for sure is that your organization or company’s ultimate success has everything to do with day-to-day operations which is often the job of a Chief Operating Officer.
If you are a visionary and you’re more interested in big picture thinking than execution, you need someone standing shoulder to should with you to get things done. Much like the adage we all know that unveils the source of a man's true greatness, “Behind every great CEO/Executive Director, is a great COO!”
What are the exact duties and tasks that fall on the shoulders of a COO? Where do you draw the line between the work of a CEO/Executive Director and the COO? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more from Aria Finger, COO of Do Something, where she oversees the HR, marketing, programmatic, and business development activities. She is also an adjunct professor at New York University.
This class has been designed for those interested in both nonprofits and social enterprises.
What a student will take away:
- A list of the roles and responsibilities of that typically fall under a COO (both nonprofit and social enterprise)
- How COOs can work most effectively with CEOs, Presidents and/or Executive Directors
- For the large number of organizations and companies that fail, how could the COO have stopped the organization’s impending demise
- A case study on a great turn-around effort
- A practical checklist that anyone can use to make sure their org is on the right track

Aria Finger is the Chief Operating Officer of Do Something, the national not-for-profit that empowers teenagers to take action around causes they are passionate about. She oversees the marketing, programmatic, and business development activities for the organization.  With her cause-related marketing experience, Finger has managed initiatives with Staples, Aéropostale, Clean & Clear, Sprint, and other top youth brands. She has spoken at numerous conferences, including What Teens Wants, NextGen:Charity, Sustainable Brands, the YPulse Mashup and most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos.  During her tenure at, Aria spearheaded their Teens for Jeans campaign which now clothes half of all homeless children in America each year.  

Week Three / The Art of Business Development + Partnerships (4/17)

This class will teach you how to take your business development skills to the next level. The class will cover topics including strategies for getting meetings, closing deals to raise money, and convincing partners to embark on pilot programs together. We'll cover best practices for getting introductions, dealing with rejection, and important tips on maintaining a healthy relationship with partners to enable your venture to thrive. 

This class has been designed for those interested in both non-profits and social enterprise.

What a student will take away:
- Insight into how a team can manage their pipeline of donors and partners
- Key lessons about targeting the right groups or individuals who might be fundraisers
- Information about business development events and groups for startup and early stage nonprofits

Anand Chopra-McGowan leads business development for General Assembly. He has had a variety of experience in business development roles, most recently at SCVNGR, a Google-funded game dynamics company that's innovating in everything from location-based services to local deals. Prior to that, he was Director of Development for The Ad Club, New England's trade association for the communications industry. 

Week Four / Essentials of Operational Finance for Your Organization to Thrive  (4/24)

This class will survey the options for managing your organization's finances, including accounting firms, outsourced CFOs, bookkeeping firms and full-time finance staff, including a detailed look at the pros and cons of each. The class will review the financial and accounting activities of an early stage organization, providing participants with not only a framework for deciding about how to manage finances, but also an understanding of the specific work that needs to be done and how a small team can manage everything within the complex, time-demanding environment of a start-up. This class has been designed for those interested in both nonprofits and social enterprises. 

This class has been designed for those interested in both nonprofits and social enterprises. 

What a student will take away:
- An understanding of the basic principles of finance, including unit economics, financial statements, capital structure, equity and debt, and relevant financial metrics and ratios
- Guidelines for creating financial models with a set of financial statements, key operational metrics, and a set of key drivers and assumptions 
A map to explore how tactical product, marketing, organizational, and strategic decisions impact an organization's financial health

Susan B. Hepner is a Tax Partner at Raffa, P.C. She is a leader in the field of tax and governance structures for multigenerational groups concerned about the long-term protection of their shared assets. During her 25-year career in the financial services industry, Susan has been recognized on numerous occasions for the value she brings to her clients. Most recently she was acknowledged by her peers in Washingtonian Magazine's 2009 "Top Financial Planners" survey, a recognition she has received consistently. She was chair of the board of the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Circles Board of the Kennedy Center, the Earth Conservation Corps, the Board of Directors of the National Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the board of directors and Executive Committee of the DC Chamber of Commerce.

About the Organizer:

Shana Dressler is the co-founder of the Social Innovators Collective, an international
network of emerging founders, leaders and individuals who work in the social enterprise
and nonprofit sectors. Since February 2009, she has concentrated on building unique
giving communities focused on raising funds and awareness around such issues as
human rights, the global water crisis, youth education, women’s leadership, and social
entrepreneurship. Through her nonprofit organization, the Global Giving Circle, she
created opportunities for people of all income levels to support hybrid grassroots social
enterprise and philanthropic initiatives focused on poverty alleviation. 

Given her deep desire to see the social good sector thrive, she has designed and taught
startup bootcamps and produced workshop series on financial sustainability and digital fundraising. You can follow her @sic_org.

Outreach Partners:
Have questions about Building High Impact Organizations for Social Enterprises and Non-Profits? Contact General Assembly

When & Where

902 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, 10010

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM (EDT)

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General Assembly

General Assembly is a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship. We provide educational programming, space, and support to facilitate collaborative practices and learning opportunities across a community inspired by the entrepreneurial experience.

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