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Nonprofit University

Social Enterprise for Today's Nonprofit

More and more, nonprofits are looking at ways to earn unrestricted income that generates a surplus that can support their programs. Often, they turn to a model in the style of a for-profit business while remaining a mission-oriented, service-providing nonprofit: They start a social enterprise. The term “social enterprise” has come to mean a purpose-driven business or a nonprofit organization that shares the common values of meeting a double or triple bottom line: mission, money, and sometimes the environment.

This three-hour class will define social enterprise, provide an overview of how they work, and dive into some of the key values and assumptions behind the model. We will provide examples of successful social enterprises and discuss a process for designing one for your organization. We will also cover some of the very practical challenges for starting a social enterprise. 

Learn about the history and current environment of social enterprises from an early player: GCN, which started Opportunity Knocks (now Work for Good) to meet multiple bottom lines. GCN will continue to explore the concept of social enterprises in a number of our programs over the next year.



At the end of this course, you will be able to…

  • Define what a social enterprise is and the different types in today’s economy.
  • Assess social-enterprise ideas for fit with the definition and suitability for pursuing for your organization.
  • Name major challenges to starting and running a social enterprise in a nonprofit.


Anyone interested in learning more about starting a social enterprise in a nonprofit organization, especially, Executive Directors, Program staff, finance staff, and board members.

This is an introductory class.



Kathy Keeley is the EVP of Programs and a senior consultant at GCN, entering her third year with the organization. 

Keeley has been a social entrepreneur most of her career, having started nine nonprofit organizations, including two social enterprises. At each of her nonprofits, Keeley has employed earned income programs, and used that experience to launch her social enterprise projects; she secured funding to launch a number of those projects by securing Program Related Investments, which were all successfully paid back.

Keeley also started the country’s first loan fund for women-owned businesses; in her 10 years running it, the organization helped thousands of women start and grow their businesses. The loan fund became a national model, leading Keeley to assist in starting 15 other organizations that provide loans to women-owned businesses. She is considered the “founder” of the U.S.-based microenterprise loan fund industry, and is a cofounder of the Association of Enterprise Opportunity. As the first ED of the Calvert Social Investment Foundation, Keeley also designed the Social Investment Notes investment vehicle.

As a consultant, Keeley has written feasibility studies and business plans for other nonprofit organizations for the last 10 years. She has strong expertise in financial modeling, business planning, and loan packaging for investments. Social enterprise has been one of Keeley’s passions from the first moment she heard of the concept, which gives nonprofits the ability to generate their own unrestricted income. She has served on social enterprise discussion panels, taught business planning in the MBA program at Georgia State, and worked to help both small businesses and nonprofits determine how to start and grow social enterprises. Learn more




  • Coming Soon


9:30 am – 12:30 pm


Georgia Center for Nonprofits
100 Peachtree Street NW
Suite 1500
Atlanta, GA 30303
Get directions

Registration Details

Member: $150
Nonmember: $195

Questions? Contact us at [email protected] or 678-916-3081.


Thanks to the generous support of The Wells Fargo Foundation, GCN offers a limited number of partial scholarships for staff and board members of eligible organizations to attend Nonprofit University. Learn more