As the holidays approach, many of us look forward to spending time with loved ones, and to sharing stories and remembrances of the past. Many of us also look to what “can be” going forward and make personal pledges to assist those in need, change our behavior, or enhance our own value to our community. At this time of year, I often ask myself: “Is there a better, more sustainable way to fund social change beyond making donations?” I encourage you to do the same, and consider increasing your philanthropic engagement by investing in or supporting social enterprises. Why not create a true double bottom-line impact that moves the needle on both community and financial returns? If you are not sure how to do that, there are a myriad of resources available to help, including these guides from our friends at Mission Investors Exchange and The Case Foundation.
I also urge you to consider how recent federal tax reform will affect social impact organizations, and if you are fortunate enough to realize savings from the recently passed tax bill, to invest a portion of those savings in your community.
We hope you will join us in finding new ways to create fulfillment and success for others in the coming year, and we look forward to sharing our learnings and accomplishments from the past year with you in early 2018.
On behalf of the entire Mission Throttle team, happy holidays and a joyful New Year!
Phillip Wm. Fisher
In 2009, Bridgespan Group surfaced a troubling phenomenon in their essay, “The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” It distilled the widespread challenges that nonprofits face to function effectively, noting that a vicious cycle starts with “funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much running a nonprofit costs” and results in “nonprofits misrepresenting their costs while skimping on vital systems—acts that feed funders’ skewed beliefs.” The article goes on to note that if the cycle is ever going to be broken, “funders must take the lead.” In our experience, both grantees and funders must work together to break the ‘starvation cycle.’
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At Mission Throttle, we provide both funders and grantees with the necessary tools to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of mission-driven organizations, thereby creating sustainable community impact:
FUNDERS: Mission Throttle partners with funders and their grant partners to develop business strategies that strengthen organizational infrastructure and create opportunities for financial sustainability, growth and scale.
MISSION-DRIVEN ORGANIZATIONS: Mission Throttle provides a wide range of Advisory Services tailored to help mission-driven organizations achieve sustainable social impact. We use an evidence-based approach to develop creative, market-based strategies.
Stabilization: Due to capacity constraints, many mission-driven organizations are unable to create the necessary infrastructure to support long-term strategic growth. Through a range of business analytics, we partner with our clients to create solutions that lead to financial and operational stability.
We assist grantees that:
- Operate with a structural deficit
- Lack an outcome tracking framework
- Lack an integrated service model
- Have a high concentration of funders
Growth and Scale: Organizations that have diverse revenue streams are more likely to be financially sustainable and therefore, achieve greater impact. We assist our clients to leverage their existing programmatic strengths to create financial resilience. We can also work with these clients to develop and implement strategies that unlock new forms of capital and create investment opportunities.
We assist grantees that:
- Have diversified sources of revenue
- Have cohesive logic models
- Understand their programmatic outcomes
- Have strong leadership and Board of Directors
Mission-driven organizations have tremendous desire and expertise to accelerate the impact of their programs, yet many lack access to sufficient financial and human capital to scale their initiatives. By providing these organizations with the capital and opportunity to access advisory services, both parties can work toward breaking the cycle that prevents sustainable social change.
For more information on how your organization can access tools to better serve the community, contact us at email@example.com
Mission Throttle and COTS Collaborate to Break the Cycle of Intergenerational Poverty Among Detroit’s Homeless
Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) has selected Mission Throttle to help it identify new opportunities to increase the financial stability and impact of its programs, and address recent changes in government funding of homelessness programs.
The city of Detroit is experiencing a great revitalization. Young professionals are flocking to the city to live and work; new restaurants and business are opening at a seemingly unprecedented pace; yet homelessness and unemployment remain persistent problems. Detroit is home to nearly 16,000 homeless adults and 3,500 children. While 21 local mission-driven organizations serve the homeless population of Detroit, most are focused on providing emergency shelter instead of addressing the root cause of pervasive social problems.
COTS is undergoing a significant transformation to respond to these pressing social needs, and believes that a holistic approach is critical to solve the problem of intergenerational poverty among the homeless. COTS has adopted a “housing first model,” which prioritizes the importance of stable housing, and is now a national norm with the recent increase in funding and support from HUD. COTS is using an evidence-based framework called the Passport to Self-Sufficiency, which addresses the plethora of factors that prevent families from permanently escaping homelessness, including: family stability, healthcare, financial empowerment, education and training, and career development. This approach helps clients remove critical social barriers and achieve long-term sustainability.
“A heart breaking moment for me was witnessing children return as adults with their own families, struggling with the same issues their parents once had,” said Cheryl P. Johnson, CEO, COTS. “We do housing well. But are we really teaching people the skills they need to stay housed? Or further, the necessary life skills to overcome of poverty? Handing over keys isn’t enough. Admitting we have opportunities for growth is everything. It has made the difference between offering emergency shelter and offering a life-changing opportunity. We are a learning organization. Our Passport To Self-Sufficiency successfully shows people how to navigate through life, and how to set a better example for their children to follow as they grow into adulthood.”
Mission Throttle and COTS will work in partnership to identify opportunities to enhance its organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and develop a business model designed to help lift an even greater number of families out of the homelessness all too prevalent in Detroit — ensuring that the children it serves today will not need its services as adults tomorrow.
“COTS’s vision for a future Detroit without homelessness is both radical and rational,” said Susan Gordon, Managing Director of Advisory Services for Mission Throttle. “With a focused business strategy, COTS has the opportunity to create an innovative social enterprise that aligns with its core values, provides capital for scale, and advances its mission to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.”
About Mission Throttle
Mission Throttle is a social impact strategy firm dedicated to accelerating philanthropic innovation in communities. We advise, invest in and support mission-driven organizations that seek to use market-based strategies to address social and environmental challenges. We advance the organizational capacity and sustainability of mission-driven organizations through scaling earned revenue and instilling best practices to serve more people in need, increasing community impact and social justice.
Founded in 1982, COTS www.cotsdetroit.org is a private, non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, as well as comprehensive support services for homeless families and the at-risk population. COTS mission is to alleviate homelessness by providing an array of services which enable people to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain quality affordable housing. COTS assists families in reaching their housing, economic, health, education and career goals through coaching, mentorship and support as they strive to overcome homelessness and break the cycle of poverty for the next generation and beyond. COTS also exists to advocate for long-term solutions to the problem of homelessness.
Mission Throttle Selected by W.K. Kellogg Foundation to Help Grant Partners Create Framework for Growth and Innovation
Mission Throttle has been selected by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to provide advisory services to a cohort of its Michigan-based community partners. With support from WKKF, Mission Throttle is collaborating with Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC), COLORS Detroit, and Grand Rapids Urban League (GRUL) to develop pathways for their sustainability and growth.
The engagements are designed to enhance each organization’s operational effectiveness, and enable them to meet existing and future funding needs by developing innovative, diversified revenue strategies.
“In 2010, ELNC made a commitment to make quality early learning opportunities available and accessible to vulnerable families living within in our target neighborhoods,” said Dr. Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, Founder & CEO of ELNC. “We promised parents that we wouldn’t start something that we couldn’t sustain. In order to do that we needed to develop a sustainable business plan based on intentional strategies aimed at advancing racial equity in early childhood education. We greatly appreciated the fact that Mission Throttle was there to help guide us through the process while providing expertise and a valuable external perspective.”
Mission Throttle is working with ELNC, COLORS Detroit and GRUL to create customized, long-term solutions for critical social issues by using creative market-based approaches. The organizations that Mission Throttle works with, and their pioneering leaders, simultaneously look to increase their financial stability, along with the social and/or environmental stability of their communities.
“We applaud WKKF’s commitment to prioritizing preventive solutions and capacity building investments, and are thrilled to collaborate with their community partners to identify initiatives that promote operational excellence,” said Susan Gordon, Managing Director of Advisory Services for Mission Throttle.
Mission Throttle has also begun working with five of WKKF’s Battle Creek community partners — Burma Center, Generation E Institute, Urban League of Battle Creek, VOCES and Woman’s Co-op — to identify opportunities to accelerate their impact on the community.
About Mission Throttle
Mission Throttle is a social impact strategy firm dedicated to accelerating philanthropic innovation in communities. We advise, invest in, and support mission-driven organizations that seek to use market-based strategies to address social and environmental challenges. We are deeply passionate about our work and believe that merging business solutions and philanthropic values is critical to sustain and scale social impact for those in need. For more information visit www.missionthrottle.com
About W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
Mission Throttle Teams with Michigan Women’s Foundation to Increase Access to Detroit’s Microloan System
The Michigan Women’s Foundation (MWF) has selected Mission Throttle to analyze the market demand for expanding its existing Microloan Fund. The Michigan Women’s Microloan Fund provides start-up and growth capital to women entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Existing and new business owners in Detroit are greatly in need of capital to spur the growth of their businesses, yet conventional monies, even those from CDFIs, often do not meet the needs of these individuals. Many business owners are in need of smaller loans (less than $25,000), which most financial institutions are challenged to provide. MWF has successfully demonstrated its ability to deploy micro-loans ranging from $5,000 – $50,000; this success is closely tied to the invaluable education and mentoring programs that complement its loans.
While this funding gap is commonly acknowledged, most intermediaries are unable to provide the entrepreneurs with the breadth of technical assistance and resources to fully activate their ideas. Mission Throttle and MWF will work in partnership to expand access to the Detroit micro-loan ecosystem, and identify opportunities to further develop this critical piece of the funding continuum in Detroit.
“MWF is keenly aware that this program needs to be scaled to meet the demand for capital. As a result, MWF is eager to develop the financial and operational infrastructure necessary to promote women-owned businesses, and to create positive economic impact for the city of Detroit,” said Carolyn Cassin, President & CEO, Michigan Women’s Foundation. “By providing women who are starting and growing their businesses with the support they need, MWF works to eliminate barriers to economic and social equality and helps build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“We believe in creating sustainable, replicable solutions to complex problems,” said Susan Gordon, Managing Director of Advisory Services for Mission Throttle. “It is our hope that the result of this collaboration with Michigan Women’s Foundation will not only benefit women-owned businesses in the city of Detroit, but provide a model that will help open doors to economic opportunities for women throughout Michigan.”
About Mission Throttle
Mission Throttle is an advisory firm dedicated to accelerating philanthropic innovation in our community. We advise, invest in, and support mission-driven organizations that seek to use market-based strategies to address social and environmental problems. We are deeply passionate about our work and believe that merging business solutions and philanthropic values is the best approach to achieve sustainable social impact.
About Michigan Women’s Foundation
With a 31-year history of high-impact work, Michigan Women’s Foundation is devoted to fostering economic empowerment for Michigan’s women and girls through philanthropy and investment. In response to a compelling need for women to further advance their social, economic and professional well-being, MWF and its partners and supporters are committed to creating financial and intellectual improvements for women and girls.