The Works Museum in Bloomington, Minnesota, aims to inspire the next generation of innovators, engineers, and creative problem solvers through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. The Works offers their programming and inspiration both on and offsite, bringing their education programs to schools and communities.
Founded in 1995, the organization spent many years in free or inexpensive storefront space in several Twin Cities malls. From 2002-2011, The Works found a semi-permanent home in the Edina Community Center. In early 2011, the organization unexpectedly lost its lease and decided it was time to find a permanent space they could call their own. Ultimately, they wound up investing in the site they now occupy in Bloomington. It was a big financial leap for the organization.
In fall 2011 The Works went through two major changes: the move to their new space in Bloomington, and a change in leadership from founder Rebecca Schatz to Jill Measells, who joined the team as the new CEO coming from Minnesota Children’s Museum. Nine months later Steve Sigmond, who formerly served on The Works’ board of directors, became the CFO. As the organization transitioned, they felt the weight of the big financial commitment they’d made—and they knew they needed support.
Jill knew Propel Nonprofits’ Janet Ogden-Brackett through a leadership program they had both taken part in—and she knew when they needed both financial support and consulting, that Janet was the best person she could call upon.
Propel Nonprofits supported The Works in myriad ways; initially, support came in the form of a loan to pay off a construction loan from the bank for building upgrades. Then, Propel Nonprofits worked with The Works to launch a campaign to begin to replenish their depleted cash reserves. This helped stabilize the business during the less busy season, providing a safety net that has kept The Works from needing to take on additional debt during low season.
“We’re finally to a point where we can think about what growth looks like,” Jill told us. “Propel Nonprofits helped The Works achieve greater financial stability, which now enables us to be more strategic; when we first moved into our new space, it was just putting out fires.”
The Works has grown significantly since 2011—they’ve been able to double their revenue since the move, and are currently serving more than 74,000 visitors in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.
When asked what advice she’d give other organization leaders in a similar position, Jill says: “The two biggest things would be to leverage all of Propel Nonprofits’ conferences, workshops and training to expand your knowledge on nonprofit finance; and know that they will always try to help. They’re a unique asset in the Twin Cities community—and I’m so grateful for their partnership.”