In today’s superfast economy, nonprofit organizations often experience extraordinary pressures to make every dollar count. Whether they are delivering essential social services, providing advocacy and expertise on key issues, or simply offering a bed and a hot meal for the night to someone in need, the financial support that keeps a nonprofit viable is never an absolutely sure thing. Embracing this reality, forward-thinking nonprofits are learning new ways to strengthen their bottom line and build out their capabilities: social enterprise, a model for generating earned revenue that the organization then invests toward its core mission, has become a key strategy.
Now, the University of Baltimore, with its array of academic offerings that explore social enterprise, nonprofit management, financial accountability and more, is partnering with the Open Society Institute-Baltimore to create a new class of highly skilled, competitive nonprofit managers. They are doing this by recruiting alumni of OSI-Baltimore’s Community Fellowships program to participate in the 15-week Social Enterprise and Design/Business Link courses offered by UB’s Merrick School of Business and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.
Through OSI-Baltimore’s support of this initiative, participants in the former course will develop an earned-income revenue plan integral to a self-sustaining business model for their nonprofits, while those who join the latter will sharpen their organization’s messaging by developing a communication and brand identity plan. A capstone experience—a business plan competition in which UB students work with OSI- Baltimore Community Fellows to craft a plan that will be judged by area experts—will feature a significant monetary award that the winners can use to fund their nonprofit. These awards are made possible in part by a generous gift from Suzanne F. Cohen, an OSI-Baltimore Board Member and president of The Nathan and Suzanne Cohen Foundation.
“With this effort, we’re pushing forward along an evolutionary path for nonprofits to stay competitive, flexible and market-ready when it comes to their ability to deliver services and meet their goals,” said J.C. Weiss, executive in residence and senior lecturer for the School of Business and a noted expert in social enterprise. “UB’s long history of partnering with Baltimore’s nonprofit community, coupled with our understanding of the changing economy and our strong alumni network across the metropolitan business community, positions us as an ideal resource for developing this new model.”
“These fellows continue to be a tremendous resource for the city because they direct their energies to the needs of some of the most underserved communities,” said Pamela King, director of Community Fellowships & Initiatives at OSI-Baltimore. “But they do face significant challenges when it comes to a steady income stream. Through this coursework, we hope they will develop a new level of expertise that will take them to the next level.”
In addition to the customized coursework available through both classes, OSI-Baltimore Community Fellows will be part of two formal competitions at the end of the semester in December, out of which they will gain experiences in “pitching” business concepts and ideas to a knowledgeable audience.
For information on UB’s newest foray into the world of nonprofits, check out the new M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship, offered jointly by UB’s Merrick School of Business and the College of Public Affairs.