This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a luncheon honoring Chuck Gehring, President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance. After mingling and doing a bit of networking with the other attendees, we finally sat down to eat and listen in on a Q&A session with Chuck. One of the main points of his business philosophy is that the future of business is a blending of non-profit and for-profit models, regardless of which categorization your organization actually falls under. In order to attract and appeal to recent college graduates of the Millennial generation, a for-profit really has to offer value in the form of having the ability to give back to the community. In fact, a survey sent out to graduating seniors at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State revealed that for young people, the single most important factor when job seeking is being able to impact the community on company time. I had to take this survey myself a couple of months ago, and I know that I listed that as one of my top priorities as well. A company that offers its employees volunteer opportunities, in which they can get out into the community and really make a difference for a cause that they personally are passionate about, will be more appealing to young professionals. It is a great way of demonstrating corporate social responsibility as well as attracting top talent from the best universities.
At the same time, as competition for various sources of funding increases, non-profit organizations will have to start adopting for-profit business models in order to be sustainable. Social enterprise, which basically just means having revenue-generating branches of a non-profit organization, is being discussed more and more in the literature as a way of getting non-profits to be more financially independent. It’s an exciting time to be working at Alvis House, as the expansion of social enterprise opportunities for our clients is in the planning stage. Our first venture into the social enterprise arena began in 2011, when we started a cleaning service and employed DD clients to clean two different Alvis House facilities each day. It is a great way for our clients to get job training and experience, earn wages, and get involved in other areas of Alvis House. And the guys do a great job of making sure everything at the administrative office is neat and tidy! We are hoping to expand this service to include six additional crews made up of both DD and corrections clients, and eventually develop a laundry business to serve Alvis House facilities as well as local businesses.