Waban is a nonprofit organization in southern Maine that has been providing services to children and adults with autism, intellectual/developmental, and other disabilities for over 50 years.
Faced with funding reductions from government sources that threatened the sustainability of its programs and recognizing that there were dozens of people with disabilities who wanted to work but in a good economy would have great difficulty finding a job and in this economy would never get a job, Waban decided to do something about it.
However, how does an organization whose primary purpose is to provide services that meet essential social needs address today’s financial realities that include limited resources and reduced funding? What steps can an agency take to diversify its funding streams and break its dependence on government and other “soft” revenue sources? How can strategies that effect these areas be leveraged to also increase opportunities for people with disabilities?
Some organizations are choosing to apply market-based strategies and form businesses that generate profit to help further and financially support their social goals. Others are operating enterprises that provide employment and other opportunities to individuals with disadvantaged backgrounds and vulnerable circumstances. Both of these approaches are models of a social enterprise, and Waban has chosen to adopt and combine both of these concepts in order to help fulfill its primary mission, providing sustainable, high quality, evidence based and results driven programs and services to children and adults with autism, intellectual/developmental and other disabilities.