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We will be closed July 4-8 Details

By Laura Zabel
Published on Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2/8/2016

Springboard for the Arts, the nonprofit where I work, just gave away its oldest program and most reliable earned income stream. We took the curriculum from our artist-entrepreneur training course, packaged it into a free toolkit, and we’re giving it to anyone who wants to start and customize their own program.

We did it to increase our impact. A community and economic development organization run by and for artists, our mission is to help artists make a living and a life, and to help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Our programs include Community Supported Art (CSA); Artists Access to Healthcare; Irrigate artist-led placemaking; andWork of Art, the artist-entrepreneur training course mentioned above. Conventional nonprofit wisdom says we should monetize our programs by getting other people to pay us to implement the program in their community. The reality, though, is that this strategy usually fails to generate heaps of income for a nonprofit; additionally, it creates no permanent infrastructure or local ownership, limiting the impact for both the nonprofit and the community.

So after countless conversations about scale, competitive advantage, franchising, and growth, we concluded that rather than seeking to create an empire, we should be in the business of creating change. In that spirit, we are embracing abundance and rejecting the prevailing scarcity culture of the nonprofit sector. Essentially, we are trying to make sure that what we offer is available to as many people as possible, and we are not going to be intimidated by the idea (so prevalent in nonprofit culture) that behaving like a for-profit corporation is the path to success.

Read more here.