We recently received a new program evaluation describing the experience, feedback, and successes of participants in three Social Enterprise Academies sponsored by The California Endowment (TCE). This study was conducted by Active Research and Evaluation, a social enterprise unit of Five Acres.
The results validate that the program is fulfilling its objectives and are remarkably consistent with feedback collected from five additional studies that have been conducted progressively since ASE's launch in 2009. These previous studies include data from participant's collected as early as six months after program completion to as late as 3 years later.
The organizations participating in the Academy experienced significant learning and earning. In the group of twenty organizations sponsored by TCE, seven organizations launched or nearly launched social enterprise ventures, and an additional eight, are poised for launch contingent upon startup funding. $90,000 has been earned to date from Academy ventures, and that figure is projected to increase to over $2.3 million in the coming year, as the rest of the intended ventures come on line and as the current ventures continue to grow.
Of the 37 organizations surveyed from Academies sponsored by Wells Fargo from one to three years ago, 92% are still participating in social enterprise activities with 46% of those reporting their venture to be breaking even or making a profit. Additionally, within this group, over $3.4 million in seed money was raised with one organization working towards the goal of raising $15 million. Over $6.5 million has also been earned by these Academy ventures.
Participants also appreciated the design of the Academy program itself. For example, in a study of three earlier Social Enterprise Academies, sponsored by First 5 LA, 94% of the organizations were very satisfied with their experience in the Academy. They provided feedback that the Academy's curriculum and support from the trainers and business mentors prepared them well to implement their social enterprise projects.
Project leaders particularly sited the training on market research, developing a business plan, and learning to pitch to potential investors. When asked, 96% of project leaders felt that their participation was valuable to their organizations and 97% of project leaders said they would recommend the Academy to other not-for-profit organizations. The most consistent request for improvement was further developing and strengthening financial resources for start-up funding and investment.
The progress reported here is a clear demonstration that the Academy model is fulfilling its objectives to:Enable not-for-profit organizations to develop the skill sets and resources that will allow them to attract growth capital and increase revenue from earned, rather than donated income.Build overall organizational capacity enabling not-for-profit organizations to improve organizational performance by applying business practices and analytical thinking to their everyday operations.Create community-based change in the broader local not-for-profit marketplace by promoting convergence between the best practices of business and philanthropy. Please contact ASE if you would like more information about this ongoing research.
Click on the previews below to read briefs on the results of three recent surveys including the most recent TCE Evaluation.