How often do you take a step back from your organization and look at the bigger picture?
I’d like you to try something…
Stop fundraising, just for today. Take a moment to think about some possible alternative revenue sources for your organization. I’m certainly not suggesting that you stop fundraising altogether, just for today.
A Nonprofit Business Mindset
Successful nonprofit “businesses” can generate up to one-third of the revenue needed, but you’ll still need to raise funds.
Just for fun, what could you do differently this year to bring in some additional income? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
1. Fee for Service
Many organizations generate a great deal of revenue from fee for service activities. Some obvious examples include YMCA’s with membership fees, hospitals with patient fees, girl scouts with participation fees, and libraries charge late fees.
What services are you providing for which you could charge a fee? You may need to think outside the box.
2. Items for Sale
What do you have or make (products or services) which you could sell?
One example includes hospital gift shops and thrift stores. Here’s another great example — a soup kitchen in New Jersey started a chef training program for clients and opened a for-profit catering company.
Now, I don’t want you to leave this page thinking, “Amy Eisenstein said to sell keychains.” Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve written other posts to the point that selling things are terrible fundraisers. However, I do think there are opportunities for earned income that would make sense and generate significant income for some nonprofit organizations. Give it some thought.
Do Your Homework
Note that if you do consider selling goods or services, it’s imperative that you have a solid business plan (one approved by business leaders on your board). And remember, there are no guarantees. Just as with any start-up, small business, it’s possible that the new business could fail.
Also, be sure to understand the laws surrounding how much you can earn without jeopardizing your tax status. Always consult your lawyer and accountant before considering any new revenue generating activities.
I’m always interested in learning more about nonprofits with successful business models. Have one or know of a good example? Let me know in the comments.