Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Exploring the Continuum of Social and Financial Returns: When Does a Nonprofit Become a Social Enterprise?

Author(s): Kathy O. Brozek

August 2009

Community Development Investment Review

Goodwill Industries and the YMCA have something in common: by most definitions they each would be considered a “social enterprise,” a relatively new and increasingly popular term in the United States. Yet both these nonprofit organizations have a history dating back more than 100 years. For Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, which serves three counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, a whopping 89 percent of its $28 million revenue for fiscal year ending June 2008 came from its business enterprises, not from government grants or foundations. By any standard, this is an enviable nonprofit revenue stream. Goodwill provides training, life coaching and jobs for those who possess a track record considered too risky for the private and public sector employment.

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