By Beth Jantz, Vice President, Grants for Growth
In the nonprofit sector, we face a constantly shifting landscape of funding. Government funding waxes and wanes with every change of political office. Private funders change priorities in response to current events. Individual contributions rise and fall with the stock market.
So, how can organizations maintain financial stability in the midst of change? Diversifying revenue is the key. When your organization has support from multiple sources, it can weather uncertain times.
Step 1: Build a robust fundraising program.
Fundraising should be any nonprofit organization’s first stop when building a financially sound future. While many organizations rely on events to raise funds, giving clubs and major gifts programs have a better return on investment. Fundraising goals should be based on careful planning and detailed projections. A well-trained professional fundraiser can plan the entire year down to the gift (or pretty close) and build a budget you can count on.
Step 2: Develop a strong grant strategy.
Grant funding is not a quick fix, but over time grants can grow into a cornerstone of your budget. Professional grant writers take a systematic approach to research, cultivation, and writing. To succeed with grants, you will need a healthy organization, compelling programs, and strong program and financial tracking.
Step 3: Consider government funding.
Government grants and contracts tend to be larger than private grants, and you can often renew the funding year after year. The tradeoff: government grants carry more of an administrative burden. This is a great option if you have the staff infrastructure to support the process.
Step 4: Explore earned income opportunities.
Earned income is a great way to bolster your organization’s budget. Think about revenue opportunities that align with your organization’s mission. Some organizations collect program fees from the people they serve. If your organization offers an attraction, such as a zoo or museum, memberships are a good option. For organizations with a broad appeal – animal welfare, for example – merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts, or magnets can generate revenue. Does your organization have specialized expertise? You could offer classes to the community. If you provide employment services, a social enterprise might be an option. In this model, clients work at the social enterprise to learn job skills, while the business raises money to support the organization’s mission. Regardless of the method you choose, a solid business plan is key to achieving success.
Take a moment to consider your own organization’s revenue mix. Where are you strongest? Where might you consider expanding your efforts? Strategic investment in diverse revenue sources will pay dividends in sustaining your organization over the long term.
Ready to diversify your funding and wondering where to get started? Contact us: (314) 370-1602 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
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