An interview with John Richmond from Capital District YFC in New York:

Q.  Why should YFC Chapters be intentional to generate earned income or social entrepreneurship?

A. The scope of what we want to accomplish in our local areas needs more income than we raise. We must find take advantage of opportunities to expand what we are doing by providing goods or services that our local areas need.

Not only that, but generating income through social entrepreneurship puts us interfacing with communities and schools on a totally different level. The schools view us as a partner, not just an organization that wants to get in. This kind of a mutual relationship opens doors to other partnerships as well and natural referrals while providing a service that helps us pursue our mission and generate income. Doing these entrepreneurial activities gives us opportunities we wouldn't have otherwise.

For us a significant portion of our chapter's total income will be generated through our entrepreneurial activities and now we have entire counties wanting us to service their students.

Q. What are your main entrepreneurial activities?

A. We're involved in three projects main projects. Several years ago a grant from New York state provided the money to build a high ropes team obstacle course. This climbing experience is unique because it's done in teams of eight people, 20-40 feet above the ground, working together through an obstacle course. Recently we renovated the indoor facility to house a rock climbing gym. Fourteen thousand feet of gym entertain climbing leagues, teams, camps, classes, and parties and provide an income stream that covers the overhead of the facilities
Point Break, a fee-based in-school anti-bullying workshop program, generates income and provides a needed service to communities
We also host an annual Student Leadership Conference for Christian students and a resource for youth workers and churches

Q. How much money will your chapter generate through these types of activities?

A.  Next year we are projecting to surpass $600,000 in income from just a couple of these activities.

Q. How would I start social entrepreneurship in my chapter?

  1.  Key leaders must be bought in to the idea of generating income.  Generally, people in ministry don’t know how to run a business well. There is a whole learning curve on how to run a business. You will need people who have a business mind-set and will help you think through risks and establish a plan that can handle setback
  2. Surround yourself with a variety of business leaders. My key is having lots of business guys involved who will share with us and teach us how to do it. A retail business perspective is great to have for our climbing facitlity. They help us think through the look of the facility, cleanliness, and traffic flow through the facility.
  3. Get your ideas lined up.   Point Break is an incredible opportunity to start. It increases current ministry in a school or opens the door to a new ministry in a school that does the Point Break workshops. It is a key service around our YFC mission that is low risk and income generating.

Q. What are other ideas I could pursue?

A. Our Teen Parents is exploring a cleaning business to provide employment, as well education, experience, and childcare, for our teen moms. We are talking about an afterschool rec program for middle schoolers. Where we’d charge $5 / hour, 3 hours a day, Monday-Friday. For every 10 kids that come, one full-time staff person is fully funded. Another idea we're going with is strength-training classes for kids. I know other chapters have done foster care and even screen printing. The possibilities are limitless.

If you have a question about this topic feel free to email John Richmond at [email protected]

Capital District YFC John Richmond

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