Napa Green: Funding Nonprofit Social Ventures In Crisis

As the first post of the new year, cheers to 2021! It’s already going by fast, but before getting too far into it I wanted to share my case study which was published in the Wine Business Journal at the end of last year. It was originally written as my capstone project for grad school but has since snowballed into a new formone which I hope is of actual use to others in the wine industry and beyond.

Since it was written right as COVID-19 was starting to grip the country, crisis-management themes apply but the ultimate goal is to teach students how to analyze business models and revenue streams social ventures can use. A unique business model which has become more popular in recent years, social ventures are mission-driven organizations which seek to both create value for their purpose as well as become self-sustaining from it. There are a wide range of examples out there, but this case in particular focuses on Napa Green: a non-profit organization which specializes in assisting and certifying Napa Valley wineries and vineyards on various sustainability measures.

For the business / research geeks ready to read on here’s the Managerial Summary:

“This case takes place as Napa Green, a regional vineyard and winery sustainability certification, is in its first year transitioning out from under the umbrella of the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV). When it was first founded, Napa Green was fully funded by the NVV as a way to help their members achieve compliance with the local, statewide and national environmental regulations. From the start the NVV sought to create a program that would one day be its own independent nonprofit, and at the beginning of 2020 began the transition. They would be stepping down their funding to Napa Green in 2020 and 2021 with the hopes that the organization could be fully funded on its own by 2022. Anna Brittain, named the Executive Director of Napa Green to help with the transition, began seeking out funding sources to get the organization to financial independence as soon as possible. This case takes place in April 2020 as the Coronavirus pandemic has started having serious impacts on the U.S. economy, forcing many businesses to close or rethink the way they operate. A nonprofit and social venture like Napa Green was no exception—Anna was forced to completely rework their business plan to secure funding, as well as find a way to continue fulfilling the organization’s mission with limited resources.

The Napa Green case provides a clear example of the difficult strategic decisions non-profit managers must make in order to both stay in business and accomplish their mission, particularly through a crisis. Operating within an integrated hybrid business model as such has many benefits and drawback, but when properly done can be a viable business method. Important takeaways include:

  • In order to accomplish both your mission and stay financially solvent as a hybrid organization, thorough strategic planning must be done.
  • Identify the macro-environmental factors impacting an organization at any given time to better address and create new business plans.
  • Managers should be able to identify sources of sustained competitive advantages in order to protect and maximize them for success long-term.
  • Regardless of the business or organization, income management is essential for staying financially solvent and having a diversified core strategy is key.
  • Some of the most difficult decisions teams must make involve prioritizing various promising options for the future success of the organization.
  • Plans should be reevaluated often based on determined metrics of success, or as internal and external factors require.”

Have we peaked your interest? Click here to view and download the paper, and feel free to share your thoughts below!


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