Growing Your CIL: Where to Start

by Michele Martin on July 25, 2011


It’s a good question; one we hear often. CILs have many opportunities to grow: third party pay for personal assistance services; providing employment-related services in association with local workforce investment boards; offering accessibility consultation; assisting individuals to file disability claims; buying an office building and leasing out office space; and a host of other opportunities.

Even as we continue the larger discussion of how we maintain the core beliefs and principles of the IL movement, this is a good place to begin the practical discussion of the first steps a center takes to grow. Starting a new business or program isn’t easy for anyone, individual or organization. That’s why so few do it. Yet, there are some good first steps that will help you start down the path to earned income for your center.

  • First, review Andy Robinson’s video presentation on social entrepreneurism. It’s from the IL NET training links featuring Andy and several CIL directors who have started successful businesses. Here’s a direct link to Andy’s presentation: Social Entrepreneurism by Andy Robinson.
  • Then, review the other video material from the same training. Every session is available: High Impact CILs: Supercharging Your Mission.
  • Read Andy’s Book, Selling Social Change (Without Selling Out): Earned Income Strategies for Nonprofits. This link takes you to where you can purchase the book. If you require the book in a specialized alternate format, contact ILRU directly. We can provide a Braille format file (BRF) that complies with UP. SO. copyright law.
  • Finally, as part of your first step strategies, review the links of other resources on earned income strategies on the training page. Follow the link labeled Preparing Centers for Independent Living to Engage in Entrepreneurial Activities – Resource List.

I’ll be writing a lot more about social entrepreneurism and earned income strategies over the weeks and months to come. Soon we’ll begin a series of video interviews on how successful CIL directors have led their centers to create new programs and created financial resources to support their missions. Keep watching for new information.

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