In these tough economic times, when agencies are being cut back by their regular funding sources, it is important to look at other ways non-profits can supplement their incomes.
For starters, a smart non-profit should review its facilities to determine how it might cut its operating expenses, and possibly even devise ways to create new income streams. For example, a small-scale energy audit can reveal ways to trim monthly expenses. A look at an agency’s space might determine if there is any room to rent to another agency that has a mission compatible with its own. You may also have parking spaces or garages you can rent.
When embarking on a special fund raising event to help supplement income, remember to try and keep expenses in check. That should start by picking a place that is both beautiful and cost-effective. You may think a present donor will help by sponsoring a more expensive venue, but that same donor could also be contributing those funds to enhance your bottom-line. In this land of opportunity, there are so many beautiful spaces with delicious food and gorgeous scenery that may be willing to give you a terrific deal for your money. This also applies to paying someone for entertainment, master of ceremonies, etc. You are non-profit. Try to get those services for free!
On the income side, make sure you are getting the most for your efforts from an event. Since they are normally time-consuming you may wish to implement as other money-making opportunities that day, e.g., auctions, journals, underwriting, raffles. Depending on the crowd that shows up, you may be better served including those opportunities in your mailing to reach a broader audience.
If you already do an annual appeal, consider implementing a second one with a particular theme to boost income. I am a big fan of membership programs – though they take more time to cultivate the donor, they can help to produce a more regular income.
Finally, grants both public and private are an excellent way to augment your income and open up new funding streams. Hiring a staff member can be expensive when taking into account fringe benefits and space occupancy but, more importantly, their level of expertise is crucial to your success. This is why you may want to hire an agency like ours, with 30+ years of grantsmanship, to ensure you have given it your best shot.