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Grant Seeks to Fund a Big Idea in ‘Social Enterprise’

Money | Funding | Grants

A ‘social enterprise’ uses a business concept – think Girl Scout cookies – to fund and further the goals of a nonprofit.

TAMPA BAY – Girl Scout cookie sales and Goodwill stores are two business-like ventures that have produced financial sustainability and furthered the nonprofits’ missions for decades.

To help local nonprofits develop similar initiatives, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is providing up to $50,000 for innovative ideas that help nonprofits establish or expand a social enterprise.

A social enterprise marries the social mission of a nonprofit and the market-driven approach of business with the goal of building a sustainable revenue stream. One local example is Metropolitan Ministries’ Inside the Box Café & Catering, which is managed by the organization’s former residents and staffed by current residents and student interns from its culinary arts program.

“More nonprofits are exploring social enterprise because it provides sustainability – something we look for in every grant we award,” said Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “We’ve already received a lot of initial interest from local nonprofits, and we’re excited to see the ideas that are proposed for the Big Idea Grant.”

Applications are now being accepted for the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s Big Idea Grant: Nonprofit Social Enterprise. Proposals should outline potential partnerships and how the proposed venture aligns with the organization’s mission. They should also include a detailed business plan and illustrate a path to profitability and sustainability.

The last Big Idea Grant in 2015 focused on collaborative projects that could make a real difference in the lives of those who struggle for food and housing. One of the finalists, My Mobile Market, also happens to be an example of social enterprise. Feeding America Tampa Bay partnered with Goodwill Suncoast and Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally to establish My Mobile Market, a mobile grocery store that brings fresh produce and shelf-stable food to low-income neighborhoods. While selling food at low costs, My Mobile Market started turning a profit in the same quarter it launched.

“My Mobile Market shows that these social enterprises can benefit our community while also serving as successful financial endeavors to support the mission of the nonprofit,” Spalten said.

Applications for the 2017 Big Idea Grant are accepted through March 3. Finalists will present their pitches in April 2017.

Founded in 1990, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay connects donors, nonprofits, community and business leaders, professional advisors, volunteers and residents to make the maximum positive impact in the Tampa Bay region. For the past 25 years, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has been dedicated to making giving easy and meaningful for donors as a way to strengthen nonprofit organizations and build a better, more vibrant community. Since its inception, its donors have enabled the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to award more than $190 million in grants to nonprofit organizations across the country. 

For information about the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, go to

Community Foundation of Tampa Bay | Big Idea Grant | Social Enterprise | TB Reporter

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