Scaling Impact

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E53: Supporting Nonprofits to Scale: Insights from GreenLight Fund Boston’s Melissa Luna

In this episode, Senior Executive Director of GreenLight Fund, Melissa Luna, discusses the organization’s mission to remove barriers to inclusive prosperity by launching and scaling proven programs that address community-identified needs, GreenLight Fund’s approach of investing financial resources and providing long-term sustainability support to partner organizations, and the significance of community engagement and learning from past data and trends within the GreenLight Fund portfolio.

Melissa Luna is an experienced Managing Director with a demonstrated history of working in the philanthropy and nonprofit industry, who is skilled in Nonprofit Management, Program Design, Politics, Policy Analysis, Event Planning, and Evaluation. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Scaling Impact:

  • The programs that the organization launches and scales that meet community-identified needs.
  • The multi-year funds and on-ground support that Greenlight Fund invests and provides for portfolio organizations.
  • The KPIs are outlined to determine reasonable and high growth for organizations over four years.
  • How brand visibility, partnerships, and unlocking investments are important for growth and expansion.
  • Why successful scaling requires a step-by-step approach and managing risk with the unexpected that may come along.
  • How Greenlight Fund helps nonprofits to scale up in the Greater Boston region.


Connecting with Melissa Luna:

Connecting with Sean Boyce:


  • 15:20 – “I’d love to talk a little bit more about that too because obviously the theme of this show is figuring out how to help people that are making amazing change, but maybe it’s just hyper-local at the moment, but it’s something that, you know, the needs that you described, the mental health challenges, the disproportionate level of access for people of color, those types of things, those are not hyperlocal problems, right? Like they may be varying levels of degree of severity, but those are ubiquitous. These problems exist everywhere. So obviously we want to see what we can’t do about taking those to programs that have been successful in local communities and making them as accessible as possible so that people that are experiencing them everywhere can get access to the same level of help. That was really the inspiration behind the creation of this podcast interviewing professionals like you who have done this successfully over and over again”
  • 17:38 – “So from the very beginning it is about setting it up for success. Part of what we do also with the organizations when we do select them is we outline KPIs. So key performance indicators over those four years to determine what is reasonable growth and what is high growth. Because we want for there obviously to be reasonable growth, but we also want to shoot for the stars and make sure that we’re going for high growth.”
  • 19:54 – “And so our job at Greenlight is to ensure that they’re learning the right lessons in those first two years that they’re pivoting, that they’re applying what we’re learning and then helping them to figure out, now that we know what works in our market, how do we grow that? What are the partnerships, what are the public funding sources and what ways can we continue to elevate the local leader so that we are bringing in these opportunities to continue to grow the program.”
  • 20:58 – “Building their solution to be sustainable is probably one of the biggest challenges facing the future success for nonprofits and impact-related organizations that have even some track record of success, a fact that their programs work. I’ve read countless stories in their, they’re such a rollercoaster because they’re amazing to learn about problem that they wanted to solve, the improvement they wanted to make in their community”
  • 25:38 – “And I think that when we talk about our community, it’s really centering on what they need and what they want. And I think those are two very different things. And so I think in particular as we think about the dignity of people who are using our programs, if we really center what they both need and want, we can deliver really infected programs with a transformative change.”