Hartford Foundation Social Enterprise Program Boosts Nonprofits’ Earned Income Potential

Up to $240,000 in Matching Gifts Will Fuel Eight Organizations’ Social Enterprises

Nonprofit organizations across Greater Hartford face increased demand for services, while they struggle to raise sufficient funds. Several local organizations are proactively meeting this challenge through social enterprise: selling a product or service that complements their mission and supports the financial sustainability of the organization.

This self-supporting approach to revenue generation is new to many nonprofits in Greater Hartford. In response, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and its Nonprofit Support Program (NSP) launched the Social Enterprise Accelerator, designed to help organizations expand beyond traditional grants and donations. The first group of ten nonprofits started the program in 2018; the second group of six began in 2021, with eight organizations currently engaged in the process. 

The Foundation has created a matching challenge: for every dollar of start-up capital raised by the nonprofits in the current group, the Foundation will match dollar for dollar, up to 50 percent of each organization’s goal, not to exceed $30,000. The announcement followed “Fast Pitch” sessions on January 23 and January 24 when organizations presented their business plans to current and potential donors and made a direct ask for financial support toward startup capital needs. The matching challenge runs through April 24.

“The enthusiasm and effort that area nonprofit organizations have brought to the Social Enterprise Accelerator program has far exceeded our expectations,” said Meher Shulman, Associate Director of the Nonprofit Support Program. “While the creative ideas these organizations have brought forward are truly exciting, we have been even more impressed by their level of commitment to developing detailed and viable business plans. Nonprofits in Greater Hartford have an appetite for social enterprise and a need for new revenue sources; we are proud to help them meet that need.”

This cohort began the three-year program in April of 2023 with a series of four intensive workshops and individualized consultations on social enterprise. Of the 10 organizations that began the program, eight were accepted for additional business plan development, implementation support and fundraising coaching. The Social Enterprise Accelerator is provided in partnership with No Margin, No Mission, a national consulting firm dedicated to helping nonprofits increase their earned income and entrepreneurial capacity.

The eight organizations, or “Entrepreneurial Eight” participating in this cohort include:

AHM Youth Services - Clinical Mental Health Services will offer additional therapy services to youth and their families in four local towns.  

Conference of Churches - The 224 EcoSpace is an innovative co-working space that caters to entrepreneurs, remote workers, and small business owners who want affordable and collaborative workspaces in a modern office environment.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center - Stowe On The Go will help organizations facilitate difficult, meaningful, and potentially transformative conversations.

HartBeat Ensemble - Stories Toward A Beloved Community is a professional development program of storytelling and theater-based practices providing a framework for organizations to build more empathetic and just working communities.

Hartford’s Camp Courant - Pavilions at Camp Courant will offer affordable venue rental in a private, welcoming environment that’s conveniently located, easily accessible, surrounded by nature, and filled with recreational opportunities.

Leadership Greater Hartford - LGH Consulting and Training Services aims to develop leaders in the modern workplace by building welcoming and inclusive teams.

Urban League of Greater Hartford - DEI Consulting and Training Services is designed to lead clients down a path of discovery, affirmation, and solution to help them become better equipped to successfully achieve their vision for a diverse workforce, corporate culture, clientele, and community impact.

URISE Ventures - OMNI Print Plus, "A Print Shop With a Purpose,” will provide an array of print, copy, and digital services, plus website design, graphic design, and tailored customer solutions.

Established in the late 1980s, the Nonprofit Support Program (NSP) at the Hartford Foundation is key to the Foundation's capacity-building efforts, annually serving more than 200 nonprofits and giving $2 million in grants. NSP's close contact with Greater Hartford's nonprofits provides it with a unique understanding of the trends within the sector.

 The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $948 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.