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How to increase your not-for-profit’s revenue

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Sourcing revenue can be difficult for not-for-profit (NFP) organisations due to increased competition for sponsors, donors and members; today everyone wants to make and save money as well as do exceptional things for humanity and the planet. Increased competition for traditional revenue sources can cause NFP’s revenue to come under threat, which could make NFPs ask ‘What do we need to do to ensure relevancy to our existing and potential supporter base?’, ‘How do we achieve a financially sustainable and growing organsiation over the next five years?’ and ‘What practical governance and management steps do we need to take to get there?’

Below is a list of revenue raising ideas to help NFPs generate additional income.

1. Advertising

There are usually many communication channels offered by NFP organisations, including e-newsletters, e-alerts and hard copy magazines. The key is to provide content that appeals to both members and advertisers, including articles, inserts and classifieds. It is also important to ensure that your rates for advertising are adjusted annually by what the market is willing to pay.

2. Sponsorships for conferences and events

Create and regularly update a sponsorship prospectus highlighting your events, training and seminars. If well managed, conferences and events can become a solid and regular form of additional income, and establish your position in the marketplace.

3. Host a staff session

Is your organisation sitting on a cash cow? Staff are occasionally disinclined to share their thoughts, but when given the opportunity they often reveal some gems that could help you improve your offerings, management and income streams. Be sure to discuss ways to improve your existing products and services and to brainstorm ideas for new products and services.

4. Grants and tenders

Dedicate a manager to routinely review Federal and State Government websites for new grants and tenders that could be relevant for your organisation. Be sure to assign an appropriate amount of time to craft well-written and targeted applications and proposals.

5. Research

Dedicate a manager to thoroughly review the websites of similar organisations (your competitors) and potential competitors for emerging products, services and online trends. This should have both a national and international focus.

6. Commercial providers

Partners can be contracted to provide services to your members or donors in exchange for a fixed and/or commission income for your organisation. Discounts and special offers from partners to members can also be promoted as member benefits.

7. Capital campaign

If there is a need to buy a new building or a significant lobbying project to fund, create a purpose-built campaign seeking up to 100 per cent of its cost from your core supporters.

8. Review your premises

If you own your premises, and don’t review and refit it every 15–20 years, the law of diminishing returns means that you will spend too much maintaining an increasingly outdated property and receive decreasing returns.

9. Merge

One solution to increased competition in a crowded market is to seek out aligned organisations that offer a natural fit to yours, and see if a mutually beneficial outcome can be achieved through a merger.

10. Business development

Consider your organisations’ business development objectives to ensure a dedicated focus on revenue generation. A Business Development Manager with revenue-based key performance indicators may be a worth considering.

11. Start-up, joint venture or acquisition

It may be sensible to consider starting or growing commercial initiatives through a dedicated subsidiary entity to offer some protection to the assets of the parent entity. A commercially-oriented Board may be able to achieve greater revenue but you will also need to consult with your financial advisor and lawyer.

By following this advice your organisation is likely to be more economically sound and should be better prepared to provide its products and services to satisfy your members, donors and the community’s needs both now and in the future.

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