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March 2010

Survey: 52 percent of adults 18­–64 use social media

According to a new report released by Pew Research Center, social media use is up 45 percent for adults 18–64 since February 2005. Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next looks at the values, attitudes and experiences of the Millennial generation while also shedding light on the Boomer generation.

Pew Research Center’s survey of more than 2,000 adults shows that 30 percent of boomers use social networking sites, up from only five percent in 2005. In total, the report found that 41 percent of adults use social networking sites. (more…)

September 2016

Social Enterprise for Foundations

Social Enterprise for Foundations

social enterprise foundations

Sometimes “the way it’s always been done” is no longer adequate. At Joining Vision and Action we are relentlessly focused on bringing research and innovation to the field of social enterprise for foundations, applying the lessons of implementation science to make grounded recommendations for your organization.

Social enterprise for foundations? Social entrepreneurs create ventures that further societal goals. Enterprising social innovators are increasingly guided by foundations eager to help achieve social change.

Foundations do amazing work, funding some of the most necessary projects propelling social change. However, funding is often impermanent. Does your organization find itself grappling with tough questions like:

  • What happens when your grantees are nearing the end of a funding cycle?
  • What does true sustainability mean for your grantees? 
  • Do your nonprofit capacity building efforts include earned income?

Social enterprise for foundations is a crucial part of any funding organization’s programming. It can help grantees:

  • Develop multiple income streams
  • Achieve greater stability
  • Realize longer-term impact

By supporting social enterprise for foundations, your organization is encouraging sustainable income and reducing their grantees’ reliance on foundation support.

Joining Vision and Action has worked closely with foundations and nonprofits alike on dozens of successful social enterprise projects. Our team knows how to meet funder expectations while supporting nonprofit development. Let us know how we can help you build a social enterprise for your foundation today!

Ready to get started? Contact us

Social Enterprise for Entrepreneurs and Businesses

Social Enterprise for

Entrepreneurs and Businesses

social enterprise entrepreneurs

Sometimes “the way it’s always been done” is no longer adequate. At Joining Vision and Action we are relentlessly focused on bringing research and innovation to the field of social enterprise for entrepreneurs and businesses, applying the lessons of implementation science to make grounded recommendations for your social venture.

Social enterprise entrepreneurs and businesses all share one desire: to achieve a measurable social impact and profitability in the marketplace.

Do you want to build a social business but you don’t know where to start?

Do you want to instill your existing business with a social purpose?

JVA’s expert social enterprise practitioners have decades of experience working with social enterprise entrepreneurs to set up successful social businesses. Our diverse and multigenerational team can help you explore potential business models, legal structures, financing options and more to turn your dream into a solid social venture with high impact. Our services for social enterprise entrepreneurs can help you:

  • What being a social enterprise entrepreneur means
  • Understand the ins and outs of social enterprises
  • Figure out whether to register as an LLC, Benefit Corp, L3C or something else
  • Determine how to fund your social businesses

Let us know how we can help you turbocharge your social venture today!

Ready to get started? Contact us

Social Enterprise for Nonprofits

Social Enterprise for Nonprofits

nonprofit social enterprise

Sometimes “the way it’s always been done” is no longer adequate. At Joining Vision and Action we are relentlessly focused on bringing research and innovation to the field of social enterprise, applying the lessons of implementation science to make grounded recommendations for your nonprofit social enterprise.

A nonprofit social enterprise can be the key to unrestricted revenue. We can help you get there.

Do you want to free your nonprofit from dependence on grants and donations?

Need help figuring out how to start a nonprofit social enterprise?

Do you want professional, evidence-based financial projections and market research?

Most organizations could benefit from greater financial stability – and nonprofit social enterprise is an increasingly popular way of providing it. By launching a mission-driven business, your nonprofit has the opportunity to:

  • Increase unrestricted income
  • Support your existing fundraising strategy
  • Diversify your funding streams
  • Strengthen your financial security

Joining Vision and Action’s experienced staff has worked with dozens of nonprofits to help them develop new income streams and achieve greater long-term impact. Let us know how we can help you develop your nonprofit’s social enterprise business plan today!

Ready to get started? Contact us

August 2016

Why systems are key to nonprofit succession planning—and your vacation!



By Janine Vanderburg, President/CEO, Joining Vision and Action

What is the most important element of your nonprofit succession plan?

Having good systems in place. Yup, that’s it. You can have developed leaders around you, left your board the password list and list of key donors, but without documented systems in place, the organization will flounder when you leave.

Throughout my years of work with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises, I’ve found that few have documented systems in place. Often “how we do things” is lodged in the head and heart of the executive director and/ or a key fundraiser.

Why that happens is understandable. People are focused on growth, fundraising and meeting client needs—so stopping to take the time to write down the processes and systems that make all that good work happen never seems to be a priority.

Failure to define and document systems, however, places organizations at significant risk. Work becomes person-dependent (meaning that one and only one person only knows how to do the work) or the workload keeps growing and every time a new person is added to the mix, he or she reinvents the wheel. Either way, you are failing to capture how you do what you do so that it can be replicated if successful or reviewed and modified if ineffective, wasting time and energy at the expense of your mission.

At JVA, we learned a lot about systems from participating in an E-myth coaching program. And we highly recommend the book: The E-Myth Revisited.

While written for entrepreneurs of small and midsize businesses, the book is a readable and helpful resource for any manager in any sector who is struggling to find enough time to do everything on his or her list. Among the themes discussed, the book focuses on systems, why they are critical and how they can benefit you and your organization in the long run.

Here are so basics of documenting your systems

The following key elements should be captured as part of your systemization efforts.

  1. The purpose of the system. What is it that is accomplished by the system? For example, the purpose of your payroll system is to make sure that your employees receive their paychecks on time and in the right amounts. The work of the system should be aligned toward achievement of the purpose.
  2. The flow of work in the system. What are the steps that need to take place within the system? Document the activities required, in order, with a level of detail that will ensure that someone unfamiliar with the system can read and understand how to operate it if required.
  3. The party or parties responsible for the system. Who is accountable for the system? Assign responsible positions to discrete steps within the system and for the system as a whole. Make sure that each individual involved understands the system and the components for which he or she is responsible. This process will lay the groundwork for effective staff and volunteer management by defining clear performance expectations and accountability.
  4. Periodic review of the system. Organizations are not stagnant; systems must evolve to meet changing needs of the organization and to reflect enhancements that can increase the agency’s efficacy and efficiency. By including a documented process for reviewing and updating systems, organizations can allow for innovation and flexibility while maintaining integrity, consistency and accountability.

 How to get started? Conduct a system inventory.

For a nonprofit with few documented systems, putting this process into place can feel overwhelming. Start slow, prioritize, delegate and tackle one thing at a time. Consider conducting a system inventory to create a master list of all the systems and processes either in place or needed to conduct the work of your organization. Keep adding to the list and documenting one system at a time.

Once systems are in place, develop a process to periodically review and reassess systems to make sure that they are still relevant, accurate and efficient in supporting the work of your agency. You’ll get there,  your agency will be stronger for it, and you’ll be ready for succession—or vacation!










July 2016

Planning your next nonprofit career move: Tips and three books to read

nonprofit and social enterprise succession planning

Are you thinking about leaving? Image via Hippie Bowman 

by Janine Vanderburg, President/CEO, Joining Vision and Action

About a decade ago in the pre-recession years, I was leading a workshop on succession planning for nonprofit sector leaders. After invoking the JVA Vegas[1] ground rule, I asked participants to introduce themselves and why they were in the workshop.

Responses ranged from:

“I’m planning to leave my nonprofit organization and want to leave it in a healthy and sustainable place so want to start thinking about succession planning now.”

To the more frequent responses:

“I have given notice [anywhere from a year to a month] and I want to know what I should do next.”

To this one…

“My last day was yesterday.”

While the nonprofit sector has been relatively stable post-recession, in the last two years, transition is up, 19% according to the most recent survey.

And the conversations that I’ve been having with friends in the sector lately seem to be somewhat of a déjà vu of that long ago workshop. Boomer-aged friends are thinking of “retiring” from current nonprofit executive director jobs, while still wanting to contribute their time, talent and life experience in some way. Other friends and colleagues are thinking more about “what’s next?” and how they can have an impact, have more impact, or better use their talents.

The key questions I encourage people to think through are:

  • Do you want to stay in the sector or leave it?
  • What do you love doing? Want to do more of?
  • What do you never want to do again?
  • Where can you add value?
  • What do you still want to learn?

There are two books that I’ve been recommending for some time, and one that I’ve just added to the list. Each is in its own way outstanding at helping you answer the “what’s next?” question.

Go Put Your Strengths to Work

This book by Marcus Buckingham is one of the series of StrengthsFinder books that we love at JVA. This is my favorite because of the detailed exercises. One of my favorites is the “Weakness Test” on page 170, where you evaluate specific tasks against statements like “I look for ways to avoid doing this type of activity,” and “I keep thinking of other people who can do this type of activity instead of me.” Yup. While intended to help readers better use their strengths on the job, and reinvent their jobs to focus more on their strengths, it’s also a great resource for helping you think through what an ideal next career would be.

Encore Career Handbook

I love this book (and not only because I’m quoted in it about the demand for jobs in fundraising—page 29). Geared to people looking for encores in the social sector in the second half of life, it’s a great read and guide for people of all ages who are looking for jobs that combine passion, purpose and paycheck. It’s filled with great resources, exercises and tips for everything from figuring out how much money you really need to networking to how to write the perfect email to ask for introductions.

Born for This

This latest addition to books I’m recommending to friends who are thinking about doing something different. The subtitle tells it all: How to find the work you were meant to do. It focuses on finding the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at and what you can make a living at—something author Chris Guillebeau calls the Joy-Money-Flow model, or “Winning the Career Lottery.” I read it in one sitting, and immediately started buying and recommending to others.


So why spend this time thinking this all through before you leave your current position?

A friend of mine who retired from his executive director job six months ago said it best: “You can only play so much golf.”


[1] JVA’s Vegas ground rule: We ask everyone to raise their hands and agree that “whatever happens in Vegas (the workshop), stays in Vegas!”


Tear Down This Wall: What are “True” Social Enterprises?

true social enterprises

By Rolfe Larson, Joining Vision and Action

What constitutes “true” social enterprises?

Thousands of nonprofits that use the marketplace to accomplish their social goals call themselves social enterprises (SEs). Thousands of for-profit companies with social goals also use that term. Yet these two groups barely talk with each other. Why is that?

Benefit corporations and B Corps

Benefit corporations can make decisions based on impact on the community, the environment and workers – not just shareholder value. B Corps, a certification program, evaluates for-profit companies that take social responsibility seriously. B Corps undergo a rigorous assessment in areas such as governance, social and environmental impact. and employee practices.

You’d think that with such common characteristics, these movements would work together and learn from one another, right? Not at all. They operate as if there were a tall wall between them.

We say, Tear Down This Wall!

“True” Social Enterprises

The general perception among many nonprofit social enterpriser leaders is that B Corps and benefit corporations are not “true” social enterprises since social impact is not their primary purpose.

For example, Kevin Lynch, co-author of Mission, Inc., The Practitioner’s Guide To Social Enterprise and collaborator on Joining Vision and Action’s Mission, Inc. Basecamp social enterprise training, is worried that “the idea of social enterprise is now more associated with benefit corporations and B Corps than with the selfless, unsexy nonprofit social enterprise model in which impact is part of the DNA.” He added his concern that “the work of true social enterprises, that put real impact first, will be overshadowed and ignored.” Source:

Similarly, leaders and participants in the fast-growing B Corps movement generally assume that all nonprofits are dependent on grants and contributions, and are therefore ill-equipped to function in the marketplace.

What’s going on here? We decided to crowd-source this problem to the npEnterprise Forum (npE), the 10,000+ circulation, non-commercial, moderated online forum for all things SE.

It’s About Impact

Several people pointed out that what matters is impact, not structure.

“We should encourage people to focus on what binds us together,” said Hannah Pechan, “to keep our eyes on maximizing positive impact. Like most of life, it takes all kinds.”

Fernando Botelho indicated that “social problems or the damage being done to nature are indifferent to our intellectual limitations. If a small change in a large multinational prevents the dumping of 100 thousand tons of CO2, that is exactly as valuable as the same reduction being achieved by a specialized NGO dedicated entirely to that purpose.”

It’s About the People

Hildy Gottlieb says “it’s always about the people. When we start asking, ‘Who else cares about this?’ and begin engaging as people, we don’t have to work at the walls coming down. They come down on their own.”

Jerr Boschee took a philosophical approach to this question. “The philosopher Jacques Ellul once observed that we all get our hands dirty,” Boschee said. “the only question we should ask ourselves is just how dirty we want them to get.

“I’m willing to take the risk that some private sector social enterprises run off the rails in exchange for those that can scale more quickly and do more social good than they would if they were structured as nonprofits.”

In summary, we wonder if we should look more at the social impact each social enterprise has, rather than how “pure” they are at achieving it.

We say, Tear Down This Wall!

What do you think?

See how Joining Vision and Action’s social enterprise training and consulting services can help your business or nonprofit can tear down the wall.

The 10 books that should be in every nonprofit executive director’s library

Janine Vanderburg, President/CEO, Joining Vision and Action

What are the top books for nonprofit executive directors?

There are thousands of books out there on all aspects of nonprofit work. Over time, these are the ones we turn to again and again, and recommend to nonprofit executive directors attending JVA’s Executive Director Academy.

Top books for nonprofit executive directors

Are these in your library?

Books on Nonprofit Fundraising and Money

Asking: A 59-minute guide to everything board members, volunteers, and staff must know to secure the gift

This really delivers on what it promises: A simple, quick to digest guide with scripts on how to ask for money. Buy one for each of your board members; you won’t regret it.

Donor-Centered Fundraising

Pricey but worth it. Of course we love it—it’s based on solid research about what works! If you want to understand what donors are thinking and what they care about, read this.

All the Way to the Bank: Smart Nonprofit Money Management

I worked with author Susan Kenny Stevens on a capacity building project through Rose Community Foundation. And loved the way that she could so easily talk about money and how important it was for nonprofits to understand their business models. Her book is the easiest-to-read and understand book we’ve ever read on nonprofit money management and one that I’ve shared with many nonprofit executive directors.

Books on Change

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

We’re all in the social change business, trying to make our communities better. And have to manage change within our own environments as well. It can be daunting, but the Heath brothers lay out the science of doing this in a highly entertaining read.

Books on Strategic Planning

The Non-Profit Strategy Revolution: Real-time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World

This book breaks down why traditional strategic planning no longer works, offers a fabulous alternative and comes with a CD of tools and checklists that you can use to get started.


The Best of Board Café: Hands-on Solutions for Nonprofit Boards

Is there an executive director anywhere that doesn’t have questions about his or her board? This gives you the 411 on almost every topic related to nonprofit boards in easy to read chunks.

Hiring for Attitude

We intuitively know that attitude trumps most everything else, but how do you hire for the right attitudes and cultural fit needed in your organization? This aptly named book is a very practical, how-to guide that will help you bring on the people you need to have impact. (Hint: The principles in this are also good for thinking about how you recruit board members and volunteers).

Strengths-based Leadership: Great leaders, teams, and why people follow

One of our core values is building on strengths. This book helps you develop your leadership style, based on your strengths. We’ve used it with boards as well, to help everyone leverage their strengths for more social impact.

It’s Okay To Be the Boss: The Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need

Disregard the off-putting title. If you haven’t supervised before and find yourself responsible for staff and volunteers, this guide will help you develop your management skills. If you have supervised, and find that that you’re not getting the results you hoped for, this book will help as well.

Books on Getting It All Done

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

So many things to do: How do you do them all? Well, you don’t. You focus on the wildly important goals, and this book is terrific on laying out a process for getting the most important stuff done across your teams. A client in Grand Junction introduced me to this book two years ago, and we’ve turned to it again and again for JVA and for our clients.


Have a favorite we should add to our list of top books for nonprofit executive directors? Add it in the comments below.

June 2016

Strategic Partnership Development: Applied Best Practices

strategic partnership development

By Jennifer Wolf, MPH, Joining Vision andAction Director of Business and Partnership Development

Why is strategic partnership development so important?

Here at Joining Vision and Action, we are firm believers in implementation science, or taking scientific concepts and making them usable. In the nonprofit world, this idea of research and best practices can be applied to strategic partnership development. What can the “egghead researchers” teach us about this concept that will help to build stronger existing partnerships and create new relationships that benefit our organizations and communities?

First of all, let’s define partnership. It is “a collaborative relationship between entities to work toward shared objectives through a mutually agreed division of labor.”[1]

Next, figure out who are your existing and potential strategic partners: 

  • Your partners may do similar work to your organization but serve different populations.
  • OR they may serve similar populations but do different work.

Each type of partner presents opportunities for collaboration to ensure that gaps in services, resources and programs are being addressed. By forming coalitions and alliances, partner organizations accomplish the following:

  • Create a symbiotic relationship to better serve communities
  • Share best practices
  • Collaborate for cross referrals
  • Partner for funding opportunities such as co-applicants for grants. Funders may see that they are broadening their reach and deepening their impact.
  • Increase access to knowledge-based resources and improve the relevance and effectiveness of programs and services[2]
  • Co-sponsor events for community outreach, for example a community health fair

While there are obvious benefits to attracting like-minded partners, it is also important to get out of the echo chamber. To achieve certain outcomes, gathering diverse voices may be a more effective strategy. For example, when official governmental agencies partner with grassroots organizations to gather community input. However, just as we consider cultural competency when dealing with our clients, we must also consider the factors that affect the perspectives of our partners. [3]

Is it time for your organization to get a fresh perspective? Contact us if you’re looking for a strategic partner for a grant or program opportunity. We can provide the framework to help you build lasting and productive relationships.

[1] National Resource Center in 2010. Partnership Frameworks for Working Together.

[2] hase2.pdf


May 2016

Social Enterprise Team

The Joining Vision and Action Social Enterprise Team

Our social enterprise team has decades of real-world experience in developing their own social enterprises AND applying best practices to helping other social enterprises succeed. We have partnered with hundreds of clients to maximize their impact – and we want to partner with YOU.

Adam Brock
Adam Brock
Director of Social Enterprise

Adam is a facilitator, entrepreneur and designer committed to advancing sustainability and social change in his hometown of Denver. As co-founder of The GrowHaus, Adam helped transform an abandoned half-acre greenhouse into an award-winning center for healthy food access and urban agriculture, with a million-dollar annual budget and a staff of 15. At JVA, Adam serves as Director of Social Enterprise, running the Mission, Inc BaseCamp and helping impact-driven organizations of all sizes incorporate business principles into their work. He is the author of a forthcoming book on ecological social change, to be published by North Atlantic Books in Spring 2017.

Rolfe Larson
Rolfe Larson
Social Enterprise Adviser

Rolfe brings 25 years of experience as a social enterprise manager, author and consultant. His passion is working with mission-driven organizations to expand their reach and impact by successfully bringing products and services to the marketplace. He has been involved in the research, development and implementation of dozens of market and feasibility studies as well as strategic, business and marketing plans. Rolfe is the author of Venture Forth!, recognized nationally as the premier business planning guide for social enterprises. His prior work experience includes senior management for American Public Media (Minnesota Public Radio) and business school marketing professor for the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

Jennifer Wolf
Jennifer Wolf
Jennifer’s rich and varied history growing up between reservation and urban environments as well as her professional experience working in the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors gives her the ability to connect with diverse people and discover what’s important to them. Jennifer uses this skill to personalize every touchpoint at JVA and successfully identify how our team can help your organization grow, sustain or innovate. Jennifer owned and operated her own successful social enterprise, Native Wisdom, and understands the importance of business helping the communities in which they operate. She has a master’s degree in public health and is personally passionate about community and school health and wellness.
Jill Iman
Jill Iman
Director of Evaluation, Research and Implementation Science

Jill is an analytical idealist, driven to make the world a better place by finding the intersection between research and practice. At JVA, Jill manages and collaborates on multiple short-term and long-term projects, including outcome and process evaluations, business, communications and strategic planning, community assessment and feasibility research. She has an extensive background in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including survey design and advanced statistical analysis, with over nine years of experience designing, implementing and analyzing multi-faceted and complex research and evaluation projects. Her focus is always on making data meaningful to programs and organizations by streamlining evaluation and identifying implications for strategy and implementation. Jill ensures our social enterprise clients have research and data to support every decision.

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Ready to start your social enterprise?

Joining Vision and Action knows that starting and running a social enterprise requires an accomplished and committed group of people. That’s why we’ve assembled a team of experts in every area you need to make your social enterprise a huge success! Need funding? A business plan? Market research? We’ve got you covered.
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