Part 2: Rethinking Nonprofit Revenue: Saving Money

Next up in our Rethinking Nonprofit Revenue Series is saving money.  If you missed Part 1: Making Money, start here!

If you are walking into the grocery store and someone is standing outside offering a 50% off coupon with no strings attached would you take it? Of course you would! Rest assured, that happens to no one, anywhere, ever. Saving money is hard – it takes shopping around, comparing prices, and determining the best way to fill a need. The top 5 largest expenses of nonprofits are usually facilities, taxes, employees, goods bought from vendors, and wasted time. Looking deeply at these areas can help you figure out if there are savings (that by the way – is real money you can spend on something else) – you should be taking advantage of.  Read on for 9 questions that will help your organization save money on these expenses!

9 Questions to Save Your Nonprofit Money

Vendors

Along with regular reviews of your revenue sources, you should also be assessing your vendors on a regular basis as well.  Make sure you’re getting the best prices on your service materials or general expenses. Be mindful of introductory offers that may appear to save you money up front, but will end up costing your organization in the long run. Your existing vendors want to keep your business, so if you’re able to find a better price elsewhere, ask if they’ll match it! 

1.   Are you getting the best price for your service and material expenses?

2.   Do you assess your vendors regularly?

Facilities

As your organization grows, your facilities expenses will also increase, but it is important to pay attention to ensure those increased expenses are justified.  Look for ways you can downsize your materials, space, and/or supply expenses. Are there any ongoing materials expenses that you can get donated or purchase second hand?

3.  Where can you become more efficient on materials, space or supply expenses?

4.  Are there ongoing material expenses you can purchase second-hand?

Taxes

Make sure your nonprofit is taking advantage of all of the tax credits and rebates it qualifies for.  Your organization should be working with a CPA specializing in nonprofit business, that can help ensure you’re maximizing tax-related opportunities.

5.  Are there tax breaks or rebates you haven’t tapped into? Ex. Have you compared the benefits of self-insuring your unemployment benefits vs. paying state unemployment taxes?

Employees

Employee turnover can cost any for- or nonprofit organization a lot of time, money, and resources.  Your organization should know what turnover is costing on average, and look for trends in employee turnover in certain programs to see if there are ways to improve or prevent this impact.  Are there any areas of your organization where you could replace employees with contractors? This practice alone can save an organization thousands in employment taxes, payroll, and benefits including unemployment.  Contractors are also a great option for temporary projects or assignments, as they’re contracted to work for a predetermined amount of time, so you don’t have to try to figure out what to do with a full-time employee once your project ends or your needs change. 

6.     What ways can employees help you save money?

7.     Are you using contractors in areas that would be most efficient vs. an employee?

8.     What is the cost of employee turnover? Do some programs have greater turnover than others?

Automation

Last but not least – automation!  You may be holding off on updating technology due to the hefty cost of implementation, but oftentimes technological upgrades and automated processes can actually save an organization time as well as money thanks to increased production and decreased labor costs. 

9.     How can you leverage technology and/or automation to save time and money on current processes?

If thinking through these five areas seems like too much work for your organization – remember that you must invest your resources (time, money and talent) in order to increase them. There are no sustainable shortcuts here.

More on Rethinking Nonprofit Revenue: 

Sangfroid Strategy works with organizations to help them learn from where they’ve been, define where they want to go, figure out how to get there, and bring their team on the journey with them! If you want to get serious about Rethinking your Revenue – contact our founder, Heather Lenz, at heather@sangfroidstrategy.com.

Rethinking Revenue for Nonprofits: Part 2
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