Financial Modeling for the Social Sector

Build sustainable financial models to scale your impact

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: MAY 8, 2018
  • Time: 4 hours/week
  • Duration: 7 weeks
  • Partner: Dr. Erik Simanis, Philanthropy University

What You’ll Learn:

  • Distinguish between an operational unit and a head office and the financial relationship between the two
  • Estimate the reach and size of your operational unit and identify what costs at scale means to your organization
  • Understand how to think about and calculate the funding requirements for building and maintaining a capacity that allows you to innovate, learn, and grow your organization


To achieve social impact, leaders in the social sector must find the right business model to achieve sustainability. In this course, you’ll learn how nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurs, corporate entrepreneurs and social change leaders can use financial modeling and creative approaches to market-based funding to scale their work. You’ll gain a series of  templates and instructions so that even beginners to finance can begin to calculate their funding requirements and project future growth.


Project-Based Course

Course Syllabus

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  • 5 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples
  • 5 discussion guides to structure the development of your own theory of change
  • Video tutorials from Tom Adams, Acumen’s Director of Impact and former economist for DFID
Section 1: Bottom-Up Financial Modeling Framework
  • Video: Bottom-Up Financial Modeling
  • Reading: Start With the Numbers
  • Reading: Product and Service Idea vs. A Business Model
  • Reading: ‘At-Scale’ and ‘Steady-State’ Operation
  • Activity: Frame Your Financial Challenge
Section 2: Bounding the Operational Unit
  • Video: Bounding the Operational Unit
  • Reading: The Operational Unit vs. the Head Office
  • Reading: Bounding an Operational Unit
  • Reading: Estimating the Operational Unit’s Reach
  • Reading: Estimating the Available Target Market
  • Reading: Estimating the Realistic Number of Customers
  • Reading: Converting to Monthly Transaction Numbers
  • Activity: Bounding Your Operational Unit
Section 3: Total Running Costs
  • Video: Total Running Costs
  • Reading: What Are Total Running Costs?
  • Reading: Estimating Running Costs for the Operational Unit
  • Reading: Head Office Costs
  • Reading: Estimating Running Costs for the Head Office
  • Reading: Calculating the Total Running Costs
  • Activity: Calculate Your Running Costs
Section 4: Total Investment Costs
  • Video: Total Investment Costs
  • Reading: What Are Total Investment Costs?
  • Reading: Estimating Investment Costs for the Operational Unit
  • Reading: Head Office Costs
  • Reading: Estimating Investment Costs for the Head Office
  • Reading: Calculating the Total Investment Costs
  • Activity: Calculating the Total Investment Costs
Section 5: Achieving Financial Sustainability
  • Video: Achieving Financial Sustainability
  • Reading: Review of Basic Financial Terminology
  • Reading: Connecting to the Modeling Framework
  • Reading: Calculating Required Price and Gross Margin
  • Reading: Calculating Required Price Point
  • Reading: Iterating on Your Model
  • Reading: Moving Forward with Rigor
  • Activity: Calculating the Price Point for Sustainability

Register for Financial modeling for the social sector

We're currently working with our course partner to determine the next date that we'll be offering this course. Add your name to the list so we can email you as soon as the date is set. 

In the meantime, you might also be interested in checking out our Business Models for Social Enterprise course. If you need help or have other questions, email

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Course Partners

Dr. Erik Simanis is a Partner in the innovation consultancy, TIL Ventures, and core faculty of The Intrapreneur Lab. Erik has guided start-ups, green-field ventures, and corporate new venture teams in Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America over the past 20 years.

What People Are Saying

Neha Pandya

"I can't believe I ever thought of starting a business without taking this course. I really want to create something meaningful, and this course showed me that with proper planning, the opportunity to make a difference is huge."

Neha Pandya, Acting Deputy Executive Director at International Law Institute-African Centre for Legal Excellence