Since 2007, Elevation Outdoors has been focusing on breaking down barriers and helping young people find a passion to help them lead a healthier and happier life. What started as one program and six participants, has now expanded to six programs serving hundreds of youth throughout the Okanagan.
Full scholarships for program participation are available for eligible youth and families enabling those with restricted income and other barriers to develop passion and skills for a sport that will stay with them for life. Elevation specializes in mountain sports like snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking.
There is a breaking point. Scholarships cost money, and donations and grants are a hard, unpredictable way to fund an organization that sees growing demand and increasing impact for the youth they serve.
“I was faced with a tsunami of to do’s,” says Mike Greer, Executive Director at Elevation Outdoors. “Increasing demand just led to more work and we couldn’t keep up.”
To deal with the growth, the first priority was to get organized. With a grant from the United Way Social Enterprise Accelerator Fund, in partnership with Interior Savings, and some support from Alyssa Farr, one of the entrepreneurs-in-residence at Purppl, Elevation has made some big changes.
Over the last several months Alyssa helped to implement Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) into Elevation’s operations; OKRs are a process to manage priorities and stay accountable as a team.
Mike and Program Coordinator, Jess, have really committed to the OKR process. “First, we helped them set their objectives and measurable results. Then over a couple of quarters helped them set better objectives, and now, strategic objectives,” says Alyssa. “It’s enabled a shift of focus from what’s urgent to what’s important.”
This focus and accountability set the stage for bigger changes.
Four years ago Elevation launched a summer camp to broaden their reach, demographics and impact more kids. The camp is available to all youth, with no restrictions based on need. Introducing paid seats marked the beginning of non-grant or donation revenue for the organization.
Introducing a program with paid seats meant finding a new group of youth and families to connect with and a whole new approach to marketing. Mike and Jess dove in and tried their best to reach the new audience through email, newsletters, and for the first time, Facebook ads with moderate success. Another EIR from the Purppl team, paired up with Elevation to increase effectiveness of their Facebook ads and build the team’s knowledge around digital marketing.
It worked. Elevation’s summer camp sold out for the first time in four years.
“I am optimistic that predictable digital sales conversion will create sustainable revenue on a year round basis. Most of our programs are around the same price as our summer camp. I think we can use the same digital process and see similar results all year long,” says Mike. “I’m confident that the work with Purppl will improve our revenue streams and allow us to provide great, outdoor after school programming for a more diverse group of kids.”
There is now a digital budget for every program which will expand their predictable, sustainable customer driven revenue. Incorporating the paid seat model into all program has enabled Elevation to invest in things often not funded by grants, like staffing. The new revenue has not only expanded programs, but also allowed them to support a part-time program coordinator which drives further growth of their programs.
The focus from OKRs and the revenue from their paid programs add something desperately needed to create long-term social impact – predictability. Grant and donor dependency is reducing, and predictable, sustainable customer revenue is increasing. Elevation now has a focus on the future and an improved ability to make decisions based on what they know will create long term impact for the youth they serve.
Elevation Outdoors is building a sustainable revenue model to power a sustainable impact model.
Want to connect with Elevation?
Elevation Outdoors launched a 10-month leadership program, Leaders in Action, giving 15 youth in the Okanagan the opportunity to get mentorship and learn valuable life-long skills. Their hiking program runs September through October. Their snowboarding program runs January through March. All programs are open for scholarship and paid seats – details at http://www.elevationoutdoors.ca/programs/ or connect with Mike.