Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Non-Profit Recession Tip List

With an economic recession looming, many non-profit organization experts are giving advice and suggestions to cut-costs and remain efficient. The following is a compilation of tips that I think will help non-profits to remain on top of the game:

  • 1. Do not remain silent about funding problems. Many non-profit organizations think that silence is the best answer to limited finances, and continue to sustain spending at the same rate as they do during stable economic periods. This behavior makes non-profits weaker, not stronger; put simply, heroic behavior is damaging. Asking for help is the best answer; let boards and loyal donors know that their help is needed during this time. With economic recession comes extra need for non-profits, necessitating extra funding for the near future. Put pride aside, and ask for continued support.
  • 2. Announce your organizations importance. Many people will suffer financially during a recession, forcing their focus on their own financial situation and not those of others. Many people, though hurt by the recession, are not destitute. Showing the local community the importance of your services reminds potential and often distracted donors that help is important, and that others are far worse off them themselves. A friendly reminder about important services rendered by your organization will help fundraising efforts.
  • 3. Ask for more then just money. Many people are currently financially strained, and unwilling to loosen their purse strings, but have other resources that your organization could utilize. Use creative problem solving; actively search out non-monetary donations that can help your organization. Many people are not openly willing to give you cash, but are eager to help in other ways. Asking for supply donations or volunteer time still gives you resources. Cash is a sensitive subject for many during recession, so asking for items you need directly instead of raising cash makes your organization more sensitive, and creates a situation that allows more people to contribute.
  • 4. Seek out government funding. If the services provided by your organization help lessen the negative impact of an economic downturn, seek out government funding. Services that provide housing, job training, or food distribution can receive government funding to expand their reach during recession.
  • 5. Piggyback with a local business. A partnership with a for-profit business and non-profit organization is beneficial for both parties involved. Businesses that pair with non-profits create positive leverage within their community that can draw customers to the for-profit and donations for the non-profit organization. Including your cause in the businesses advertising gives your organization more reach, just make sure your services and their business pairs well together, a missed-matched partnership can seem awkward.
  • 6. Cut in-house costs. Research and analyze your organizations in-house business costs, cutting back and eliminating some of these costs can significantly raise revenue. For example, cutting back on your organizations energy costs by lowering thermostats during off-hours, using energy efficient lighting, and generic supplies are small things that can save money. Using free computer programs, such as SKYPE, for videoconferencing to communicate cuts back on travel expenses. In short, become aware and eliminate unnecessary business expenses.
  • 7. Find and use better marketing and advertising tools to reach donors. This is another way to cut costs. Instead of sending direct mail, utilize the Internet to contact donors. If your organization does not already have a website, creating one allows the organization a presence that is relatively cheap. If direct mail is essential to your organization, use cheaper paper and a more efficient printing process. If this makes you uncomfortable, make sure to note on these tools that the reason your organizations communications tools have changed is to utilize donor’s money to expand and better your services. Actively contacting and asking public relations firms and advertising agencies to volunteer their services can also help increase your reach to potential donors.
Operating a successful non-profit organization during a recession can become challenging, especially when your projects need expansion. Focusing on your expenses and eliminating superfluous expenses is critical to open up monies needed for expansion.

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