Scotland Gives Grants for Best Nonprofit Business Plans

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July 19, 2011; Source: Public Finance | Scotland has decided to make £7million of resources available to nonprofits and social enterprises to make them “more businesslike.” One part of the program is the £4million Enterprise Growth Fund, giving grants of £25,000 to £200,000 “to third sector bodies judged to have presented the most sustainable and ambitious business plans.” The other part is the £3million Just Enterprise program, which apparently will provide business management advice online.

Two aspects of this effort struck us as interesting. First, in Scotland and maybe more broadly in the U.K. since the announcement of PM David Cameron’s “Big Society” plan, the program is open not just to “traditional charities,” as this British journal put it, but to “all third sector bodies” engaged in providing public services. That means opening the resource to for-profit or limited-profit social enterprises. Are the boundaries between the sectors fading within a broader umbrella called “third sector bodies,” distinguished not by their tax status, but by the kinds of services they provide to the public?

The other intriguing aspect is the idea that the government (or government-designated bodies) will be picking nonprofits with the best, most sustainable business plans. If this were a U.S. program, which federal, state, and local agencies would NPQ Newswire readers think could be qualified to select nonprofits with prize-winning business plans? –Rick Cohen