Gaining Credibility?

Gaining credibility in the nonprofit world is a fascinating process. While I am constantly learning, and the model is always getting better, there is little substantive difference between the Reach model now and the model as it stood last week. However, our fundraising success in the past week makes us suddenly more legitimate as an organization. When it rains, it pours. Building on our success from the last seven days, we look forward to moving forward to gather the resources necessary to make Reach a reality.

While money is a key ingredient, credibility carries just as much weight for a social entrepreneur. There are a number of ways to gain credibility. Some work hard to get big names involved through Board or Advisory Board membership. Others find that an intense marketing campaign is necessary. Our approach has been to pursue legitimacy through ongoing conversations with key stakeholders. By speaking to and learning from teachers, potential funders, and nonprofit professionals, we are discussing the model in a way that gets people excited about Reach’s potential.
One increasingly common way to gain credibility for a new organization – or its leader – is through competitions or fellowships. Many may have noticed that Reach won Harvard’s 2009 Educational Enterprise Innovation Competition. We make this evident on all our materials, because it says to the reader that someone who, in theory, knows something about entrepreneurship thought that Reach was a good idea. In the coming months, we will likely pursue two other opportunities to gain credibility.
  • Currently, I’m working on the fellowship application for Echoing Green. This organization provides funding and support for promising social entrepreneurs. While I clearly would like to be selected, I am also enjoying the application process. It really forces a leader to think about the problem, the proposed solution, the connection between those two things, and your personal dedication to the work. I know myself, and Reach, better for having worked through this application.
  • Additionally, I received an e-mail today encouraging me to explore a new business plan competition sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation and The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. This competition will force Reach to focus on realistic financial models and growth strategies, both key factors in organizational success. 
Through the processes involved in applying for fellowships and competitions, Reach is able to do the thought work necessary to create the best organization possible. 
Thanks, as always, for reading.  And don’t forget our happy hour event on December 8th!
Mark
Founder and President – Reach, Inc.
Posted in Updates |