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Submitted by Anna Aloisio
After two years in existence, SEA Long Island is ready to take off. Like many SEA chapters, Long Island spent its first few years trying to find its identity as we sought to better understand the region’s social enterprise scene (which was not very vibrant). During that time, we networked, educated, trained, and even consulted in an effort to get the word out about our organization and, more broadly, the concept of social enterprise. This helped us build a foundation and a plan that we believe will put Long Island on the social enterprise map.
From the beginning, we have not seen our Chapter as a nonprofit, but rather a social enterprise itself. As such, we are not looking for donations to fund our Chapter. Instead, we are exploring various avenues to generate sustainable revenue to fund our activities, which necessitates us finding somewhat unconventional ways to collaborate with the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. One such collaboration has been with fishbat Inc., a marketing and social media company that sees value in expanding their own for-profit business by working with SEA-LI. They have assisted us in developing a tactical marketing plan that will dramatically increase our exposure to both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Through our partnership with fishbat, we have begun the process of positioning ourselves as the primary source on Long Island for information and insight regarding social enterprise. This will help to create brand awareness and provide us with the opportunity to expand SEA-LI’s educational outreach using electronic newsletters, blog postings, and press releases.The SEA-LI chapter is planning several initiatives for the balance of 2014 and on into 2015:
• Inside Social Enterprise: This program provides an intimate insight into Long Island based social enterprise organization, both for-profit and non-profit. Inside Social Enterprise is a series of 2-hour one-on-one interviews with either for-profit or nonprofit social enterprise organizations. The goal is to provide better insight into the social enterprise model, focusing on the results, the challenges, and the “how to.” In most cases, the interview is followed by a tour of the organization’s facility. We believe our Inside Social Enterprise interview series will build awareness of the social enterprise business model while driving chapter memberships.
• Nonprofit/for-profit collaborations: We are investigating possible collaborations between the nonprofit and for-profit business sectors in a way that creates a more self-sustainable revenue model for nonprofits while also making for-profit businesses more competitive in attracting customers, growing revenue and retaining employees. We envision a “Shark-Tank” like event in the future that would facilitate these types of non-profit / for profit collaborations.
• Education: In order to change the business culture of Long Island and more specifically how nonprofits are viewed, we need to immerse our students and younger professionals in the concept of social enterprise. Our plan is to collaborate with existing youth focused social enterprise groups such as Lift Up Long Island (currently partnering with Ashoka), to bring the concept of social enterprise to LI middle schools and high schools. We are also working with local colleges, such as Stony Brook and Molloy College to expand their curriculum and student clubs in the area of social enterprise. Lastly, we have introduced the concept of social enterprise to LI Inc., a nonprofit mentoring program that works with young professionals on Long Island.
We are excited about the prospects of growing Long Island into one of the real pockets of social enterprise in the country.
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