Over 9 years ago, I attended the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) annual conference in New York City. The highlight for me was participating in a seminar on social enterprise presented by Melinda Tuan of the Roberts Economic Development Foundation, now known as REDF. After the conference, I spent some valuable time with Melinda learning more about REDF’s social enterprise work and its efforts as a venture philanthropist organization in the San Francisco area.

REDF has a three-fold mission. It seeks to create job opportunities in the San Francisco Bay area for individuals with significant barriers to employability by assisting a select number of social ventures. The organization also advances the methodology of measuring performance in social enterprise organizations. REDF leads the field in this area as I detailed in a past post on Social Return on Investment. And finally, REDF supports the growth of social enterprise by sharing what it has learned with other organizations throughout the country.

A few years after the CCDA conference, Melinda Tuan left REDF for the East Coast where she now works for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors as a Senior Fellow. I’ve enjoyed periodically seeking out her advice.

When other organizations ask for help on starting faith ventures, I am quick to recommend the REDF web site. It is an extremely valuable one-stop information resource for nonprofits running social enterprise businesses. The web site provides numerous reports and downloadable management tools. I recently discovered REDF’s Thrift Store Management Dashboard, which is very valuable tool for a nonprofit seeking to increase the performance of its thrift store.


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