The Best Websites in the Industry

I love branding.  I love messaging.  I love talking points.  From time to time, we will feature what we believe are great websites that perfectly communicate the mission and vision of nonprofits in microenterprise and small business development.  My criteria? Whether my parents can get the central message and be able to repeat it within 60 seconds. Not a low bar, in my experience.

Check out Centro Community Partners in Oakland, CA.  It mission is to build thriving communities by providing underserved, low-income entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship education, one-on-one business advising, mentoring and access to capital.  The site is easy to navigate and does a masterful job in explaining its purpose and services to a wide audience.  The photos are top notch and video is not a chore to get through. I think one area for improvement is in illustrating impact.  How do they measure success?  What are the tangible outcomes of the businesses they support? I have no doubt they will and I am looking forward to sharing those results with you.

Revealing Insights on Online Small Business Lenders

Online Small Business Lenders?:  As Transparent as a Black Hole….

online small business lendersI recently heard Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute, speak during the opening plenary of OFN’s recent Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago. The Woodstock Institute published an analysis of non-bank small business online lenders.  As you might expect, the results, albeit from a small sample, are not good.  For starters, the report cites a lack of transparency, “junk fees,” and pre-payment penalties.  Other than get riled up about this, data like this continue to support the case for CDFIs.  Print this out, share it with your board and staff.  Create a couple of talking points around it to use for your elevator pitch! 

Microenterprise and Microgreens!

Growing Microenterprise: “Vertical Farm”  Start-Ups Flourish  

NYT Microgreens for MicroenterpriseCheck out this New York Times article on how growing microgreens in a spare room in a Baltimore row house has led to a growing microenterprise!! “Consumer demand for locally grown food and the decreased price and improved efficiency of LED lighting are driving the creation of more so-called vertical farm start-ups,” said Chris Higgins, editor of Urban Ag News.


Nonprofit Organizational Culture

Got Good Culture?

nonprofit organizational cultureWe are getting requests for advice on how to address issues related to nonprofit organizational culture. Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. Think about culture as the personality of your nonprofit. It defines the environment in which employees work. It is shown in:                                            


(1) the ways the organization conducts its business, treats its employees, customers, and the wider community,
(2) the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas, and personal expression,
(3) how power and information flow through its hierarchy, and
(4) how committed employees are towards collective objectives.

But what if those values have not been articulated, practiced, and periodically evaluated?  The result is often staff dissatisfaction, low morale and turnover. I really like this article from Nonprofit Quarterly that references the Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence, by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Check out the 19 practices designed to set out an explicit set of expectations for leadership from board members, managers, and volunteers and encourage broad participation in important discussions and decision-making. How many of these are embedded of your organization’s culture?

SBA Announces Funding For Women Business Centers

SBAOpportunity to Support Women Entrepreneurs!

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced funding for up to six (6) non-profit organizations that will provide services to the population of Alaska, Florida, Guam, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia to start new, community-based Women Business Centers (WBC). Link:  The application is due August 3rd. 

Women Business Centers (WBCs) represent a national network of nearly 100 educational centers throughout the United States and its territories, which are designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses. This is a terrific opportunity to deepen your support for women-owned businesses and a great partnership with SBA.

Friedman Associates has extensive experience in both the administration of WBC Programs, as well as writing competitive applications.  

Contact us for an initial consultation and we can share our experience and strategies for success.