How To Increase Your Not-For-Profit’s Revenue


By Frank Spranger

Today everyone wants to make and save money as well as do exceptional things for humanity and the planet. While sourcing revenue can be difficult for not-for-profit (NFP) organisations due to increased competition for sponsors, donors and members, the task is not impossible if we know where to turn and how to apply ourselves.

Here is a range of revenue raising ideas I have seen some successful NFP’s use, maybe they can work for you.

Advertising – There are usually many communication channels offered by NFP organisations, including e-newsletters, e-alerts and hard copy magazines. The key is to position yourself as an expert in your area and provide highly valued 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.

Sponsorships and 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 more income, and establish your position in the marketplace.

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  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.

 Grants and tenders – A traditional revenue source,but how well are you managing it? Do you dedicate a manager to routinely review Federal and State Government websites for new grants and tenders that could be relevant for your organisation? Do you assign the necessary amount of time and resources to craft well-written and targeted proposals or applications?  An appropriate level of investment in this area can play handsome dividends.

 Research – Assign a senior person 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.

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 organization. Discounts and special offers from partners to members can also be promoted as member benefits.

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

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 more maintaining an increasingly outdated property and receive decreasing returns.

Merge – One solution to increasing 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.

Business Development  – Consider business development objectives to ensure a dedicated focus on revenue generation. This may require an investment or business case.  A Senior Business Development resource with revenue based KPIs may be a worth considering noting such skills and/or a business focus are frequently absent in NFPs.

 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 will have different drivers and may be able to achieve greater revenue if operations are housed outside of the core business (you will also need to consult with your financial advisor and commercial lawyer before venturing too far down this path)

We appreciate that the sector is going through difficult times but opportunities are out there to place your organisation on a sounder footing and position it to provide an even greater social impact.

About Frank:  Frank Spranger  is a Cause & Effective Associate. He provides practical support to not-for-profit organisations transitioning into the future via 360 degree revenue reviews, assessment of property options, harnessing opportunities in changing markets, business cases, risk reviews, commercial ventures and partnerships.


[1]Too technical and would require definitions. Better to keep simple for readers’ understanding


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