June 28, 2011; Source: Enterprising Nonprofits | Nonprofits are constantly advised to diversify their revenue streams, and to explore earned-income opportunities, such as business ventures, as a key strategy. It’s exceedingly difficult to fund early-stage feasibility planning with grants or unrestricted income, especially for small nonprofits. 

In several Canadian regions, however, there’s a ready source of feasibility funding for nonprofit business ventures. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Enterprising Nonprofits (EnP) is managed as a collaborative project of nine funding entities including foundations, credit unions, economic development corporations, and provincial government.

In June, EnP awarded 23 grants, averaging under $10,000 each, to support business planning and feasibility analysis for a diverse array of nonprofit business ventures across British Columbia. These nonprofit sponsored income-generating projects include a Christmas tree lot, seedling propagation and production venture, community forest, composting, bicycle repair, frozen food preparation and delivery, community supported fisheries, and more.

These relatively small investments fill a gap in funding to support the front end planning for nonprofit ventures, and could yield big results worth exploring here in the United States. Stay tuned.—Kathi Jaworski