Special Initiatives

Social Enterprise Cohort

What is social enterprise?

“A social enterprise is an organization or initiative that marries the social mission of a nonprofit […] with the market-driven approach of a business.” (Social Enterprise Alliance)

Nonprofits are becoming more entrepreneurial and are furthering their mission by developing social enterprises (or businesses) to generate earned revenue to add to their mix of revenue sources.

What is the Social Enterprise Cohort program?

The goal of the Social Enterprise Cohort program is to assist nonprofits in the successful launch of a social enterprise, with the long-term goal of building the sustainability of nonprofits to further their missions. The program is designed to address common challenges for developing a social enterprise and to foster learning that can be applied in the real world. The program combines developmental training, hands-on working sessions, and business plan support.

This Social Enterprise program is supported by the City of Minneapolis through the Business Technical Assistance Program.

What you’ll receive:

  • Two half-day, cohort-based learning sessions that are complemented by working sessions and technical assistance to help nonprofits explore social enterprise
  • The sessions build on the components of a business plan, and participants work on their plans between sessions
    The learning sessions cover the fundamentals of social enterprise and the sections of a business plan, including market analysis, competitive analysis, financial capacity, legal structures, business planning, and marketing

An ideal candidate is from a nonprofit that:

  • Has already started to consider or explore social enterprise as a revenue option
  • Has an operating budget between $100,000 and $2,000,000
  • Is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Is a nonprofit or fiscally sponsored charitable organization
  • Serves low-income communities of color, Native communities, or immigrant communities, or is focused on reducing poverty or on creating jobs
  • Is eager and interested in participating in, and contributing to, a cohort of organizations to explore and evaluate social enterprise together as peers and learning partners
  • Has a leadership team, board and staff ready and willing to invest the time and energy needed to explore social enterprise. Participants (2 from each organization) must include the ED/CEO and one additional staff or board person

Other Details

  • One cohort primarily will be made up of nonprofits from North Minneapolis; the second cohort with nonprofits from South Minneapolis
  • Preference will be given to nonprofits that are exploring, but have not yet begun, a social enterprise. If there is additional capacity in the session, those nonprofits who are looking to expand or optimize an existing social enterprise will be considered
  • Training sessions will be held at Propel Nonprofits, 1 SE Main Street, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN  55414

Dates & Deadlines

  • Application open: March 26 – April 13 – Apply online
  • Application deadline: April 13, 5 pm Central
  • Section process: April 16 – April 27
  • Notification of those selected to participate: By May 1
  • Cohort One Sessions: 8:30 am – noon on June 5 & September 11
  • Cohort Two Sessions: 8:30 am – noon on June 6 & September 12

Apply Online by April 13


Contact Glyn Northington at

Financial Leadership Cohort

Are you an accidental nonprofit CFO? Gain confidence, tools, and a network of support through our 2018 Financial Leadership Cohort.

Financial leadership can be challenging and sometimes scary. You may not always feel like you have the knowledge or tools to confidently lead your organization’s financial management. Yet organizations that thrive are those with leaders who approach finance with confidence, even if they don’t have all the answers.

Our goal: Develop the financial leadership capacity needed for nonprofits to be sustainable and financially healthy.

Why apply for the Financial Leadership Cohort?

Through cohort sessions, you will become more knowledgeable, confident, and savvy about nonprofit finance. We’ll target results for your organization’s needs and help create a culture of financial understanding at your nonprofit – and within the sector. You’ll gain:

  • Confidence in your ability as a financial leader
  • Increased knowledge of nonprofit financial management concepts
  • Progress on self-identified outcomes
  • Improvement in your organization’s financial position

What you’ll receive:

  • 6 monthly half-day learning sessions on topics including understanding business models, communicating financial information, and building relationships with staff and board around finance
  • Support and guidance to develop financial management tools (dashboard report, cash flow, action plan)
  • Free registration to the 2018 Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference
  • A peer network for support and sharing
  • One-on-one coaching with Propel Nonprofits’ finance experts

The ideal candidate is:

  • In the role of managing your organization’s finances without a formal finance background
  • From an organization with a budget size between $500,000 and $3,000,000
  • Eager to grow professionally and use new tools to bring a positive change to your nonprofit and the sector

Eligibility & Cost

The cohort will be selected to reflect the diversity of Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations which could include different sectors, focus areas, populations served, and budget sizes. Participants will be selected to complement each other and create a dynamic peer learning group. Priority will be given to applicants who are available to attend the six scheduled half-day training sessions.

  • Cohort is limited to 12 participants
  • Cost: $250 to be invoiced after your selection

Dates & Deadlines

  • Applications due March 23, 2018
  • Selected applicants will be notified by March 30
  • Initial cohort social gathering: Wednesday, April 18, 4-5:30 pm
  • Finance & Sustainability Conference: Thursday, April 19
  • Training session dates: 8:30 am – 12:30 pm on May 11, June 8, July 13, August 10, September 21, October 12


Contact Sara Wessling, Training Manager or 612.249.6675

Healthy Nonprofits, Healthy Communities – Itasca County

Propel Nonprofits helps nonprofits in Itasca County strengthen their financial management, develop strong boards of directors, and learn to forge collaborations with other organizations to serve the community more effectively. This initiative provides nonprofits several opportunities to identify and act on their highest priorities for capacity building. 

Learning Sessions

Each year the Healthy Nonprofits, Healthy Communities participants take part in a learning series. Recent topics have included Sustainability, The Performance Imperative, and Revenue Archetypes. Sessions are free and typically take place from 8:30 am to noon at Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids. Networking and ample time for discussion are built into every session. You can attend each session on its own or attend all in a series.


Propel Nonprofits brings our training to you virtually! All are welcome to join Propel Nonprofits for any of our free webinars – see a list of upcoming webinars.

Consulting for Organizational Priorities

Every nonprofit organization has goals and plans to deliver its programs in the community and strengthen its organization. No one knows better than the nonprofit’s leaders what types of projects are most important to move to the next level. Working with a core group of experienced consultants, your nonprofit will focus on a project that will help you move forward. Our consulting services projects focus on strategic planning, such as board development, strategic planning, succession planning, and finance/sustainability.  

Executive Director Cohort

In 2016 we added the opportunity for Executive Directors to be part of a cohort that meets for lunch following each of the learning sessions for a deeper dive with their peers into the topics covered that morning. The next cohort is being planned for fall 2018 – check back here in 2018 as more details become available.   

Open Office Hours

In many instances nonprofits need a quick response for advice and resources on organizational issues when they arise. These situations often don’t require a full consulting project or scope, but rather easy access to an experienced professional with knowledge, access to resources, and availability. Call us at 612.249.6700 to schedule an Open Office Hours consultation by phone. 

Stay Connected

Because your needs for organizational assistance might arise anytime, Propel Nonprofits maintains regular communications with a Healthy Nonprofits, Healthy Communities e-newsletter. Sign up for our newsletter today.