While much of the US economy has experienced a slow but certain recovery from the Great Recession, the vast majority of nonprofit organizations—the 75% that have operating budgets under $1 million and whose missions are delivered by a single full-time “Chief Everything Officer” and dedicated contractors—they don’t see it. Unlike the larger-staffed, bigger-resourced organizations (the 25%), the 75% lack the infrastructure to easily respond to changes in demand or funding sources.
According to a recent survey of nonprofits, 80 percent reported an increased demand for their services, but 56 percent could not meet that demand due to a lack of resources. That’s not good news, of course, but the problem is much more complex.
The same organizations experiencing increased demand for those services are also sustaining cuts in the funding required to provide them, and at-risk and in-need segments of the population find themselves without services to meet their basic human needs. Consequently, nonprofits who provide programs such as food or housing assistance, healthcare, and job assistance must find new ways to generate and sustain revenues without increasing expenses (their overhead).
So what do the 75% do about it? We get started.
Doing the same mission on less money is certainly possible with a positive can-do attitude and a little creativity. Here are four things that start you on the path to stable and diversified revenue:
1) Go to lunch with your board chair. Have a serious conversation about the volunteer human resources you really need and just not ones you wish you had. Create a plan to recruit new members of your community to serve on your board.
2) Call your donors and thank them. Drop everything this week for 2-3 hours and call every person who has made a gift to your organization in the last year, no matter the size of that gift, and thank them for that support – even if it’s just a voicemail.
3) Send an email update about a win. Get an email to every person in your donor database (as well as your staff and board) and describe one thing you accomplished relative to your mission and how it’s impacting your community.
4) Contact a new program officer. Reach out to a private foundation that you believe has funding priorities that align with your organization’s mission. Ask to meet. Talk about an existing program you manage and how you want to increase its reach and impact.
And finally, for more help with cost saving and diversification, don’t miss this week’s webinar: 5 Things Every Nonprofit Should Do in July to Diversify Revenue. Register now to save your spot.