earned income

“What?,” you may be saying? Our job isn’t to generate revenue. We use the generous gifts and grants we receive to deliver programs, services and products to our community.

That’s what I hear from most nonprofit organizations intent on doing things the way they’ve always done them — relying on money from funders (private and government) and individual donors to sustain them.

Unfortunately, that model isn’t sustainable. And counting on a weak funding model leaves your organization vulnerable to everything from the volatile economy to the retirement of the program officer who had funded your organization for so long.

Nothing is more critical to your organization’s health than your budget. And a very effective way to stabilize your income is to earn some of it.

Here’s an example of how that can work for your organization:

  • Public Health Solutions sought to supplement grants and gifts with a more stable income source, and asked me to help develop an earned income stream for them.
  • They asked me to focus on developing a product or service within PHS’ fiscal management program, which focused on helping HIV- and AIDS-related organizations build skills in financial management.
  • I began by inventorying current programs and services, and looked for the gaps when comparing findings with our audit of  programs and services available from other sources to serve other types of organizations. What was PHS’ fiscal management program providing well to its core constituency that could fill a gap in services currently available to other types of nonprofit organizations?
  • The result: Common Cents Training — The Fastest Path to Financial Accountability for Your Organization. Since the department already provided the core of this program to its constituencies, the basic curriculum, materials and expertise was already in place. What was new was packaging it, marketing it and providing it (as a fee) to organizations outside of PHS’ traditional network.

Keep posted–I’ll be featuring earned income case studies and guidance in the months to come.

Please tell me: 1) What programs, services and/or products is your organization already providing to your core community, that you could repackage and sell to other sectors, and 2) What do you need to know about earning some income?

BTW, Public Health Services has changed its fiscal management program’s name to Nonprofit Consulting Services which leads me to believe that more earned income streams are in the works!

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Earned Income/Ventures | 1 comment
Tags:, , , , , ,

How to Supplement Gifts & Grants wEarned Income Yes -- Charge for ItI’ll be joining two other communications experts — Hannah Kane from Idealist and reporter Carly Rothman from Newark’s Star Ledger (the daily newspaper) tomorrow in a panel (Nonprofits, Technology and Messaging) hosted by NJN, NJ’s public TV and radio station.

NJN is doing something really smart — building an earned income stream by marketing for-fee use of its production facilities and services to carefully-identified target audiences. That’s earned vs. unearned (income from donations and grants); a stabilizing source particularly in tough times. Always makes sense to diversify, including income-wise.

Here’s the strategy:

  • The folks at NJN are targeting nonprofits, government agencies and small biz/production centers/event planners — the folks they feel are mostly likely to need moderately-priced outside production help/facilities. Interest is there — 150 org staff members will be at tomorrow’s session.
  • They’re marketing facilities and expertise they already have — but aren’t fully needed by the station itself. Many public radio and/or TV stations do so; but not on so formalized (and effective) a basis.
  • They’re reaching out strategically to build awareness, interest AND relationships. The panel in which I’m participating is part of an open house series — one for each type of prospective customer — designed to introduce not only the facilities and services to prospects, but to build relationships and a deeper understanding of how NJN can help with their challenges.
  • They’re showing their understanding of the target audiences, and their respect for their time (and value of their contribution) by providing a free customized training component in each open house. That’s where our panel comes in.

What skills, products and/or facilities does your org have on tap and aren’t fully used by your own programs and operations? Look hard and inventory possibilities now. Winnow down the list by evaluating what fills a market need and is most feasible to deliver (e.g. of interest to audiences beyond the folks you already provides those services or products to, requires least additional work…). And go with it.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on fee-based services, branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Earned Income/Ventures, Nancy's Speaking Gigs, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,

<< Back to Main