Q: What do you get when you cross a Nonprofit Professional with an Entrepreneur?

A: A 2015 Social Enterprise Cohort participant!

January 7th marked the beginning of a two year journey for nine nonprofit organizations with a commitment to meeting the growing demand for their services in the communities they serve. As diverse as the organizations are in terms of the work they do and the services they provide, they couldn’t be more similar in their collective desire to provide for the common good. Everyone in the room was there to tackle a common nonprofit dilemma…how can we make a greater impact with the resources we have? One answer is social enterprise.

We asked the Cohort participants to share one word about what they hope to get out of the Exchange experience. There’s no question that everyone in the room brings something different to the table in terms of their experience and skill set. However, the answers to that question had common themes. They came seeking:

  • direction
  • a plan
  • motivation
  • mentorship
  • focus
  • experience, and ultimately
  • sustainability

Each person in the group brought passion and commitment. What they’re looking for is guidance and the expertise of the Exchange Team to help them enhance their mission impact and bring more good into the world.

Our follow up question to the participants was to share what special quality they bring to their team and how this will impact their ultimate success. We had no idea that the room was filled with such diverse and talented individuals! We have visionaries, true adventurers, a stand up comedian, a former professional baseball player, an accomplished collegiate fencer, a published author, an Improv actor, just to name a few. The Cohort group is a collective band of abstract thinkers, collaborative geniuses, opportunity seekers, overcomers of obstacles and adversity, team players and risk-takers.

The effort involved in developing a social enterprise cannot be taken lightly. The process seems and can be overwhelming. The Exchange Team encouraged the Cohort group several times to “Trust the Process,” and be comfortable in the discomfort and vulnerability of moving through uncertainty towards clarity and vision. In the end, what it’s all about is that the significant hours and effort dedicated to The Exchange process will pay off ten-fold when nine separate nonprofits, that are already doing amazing work, are able to increase their capacity to do good and make an even greater difference for the communities they serve.

– Allison O’Brien

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