With the uncertainties of that looming "fiscal cliff" we just mentioned, your nonprofit might be thinking about creating additional revenue streams. Is your org ready to handle the extra work that comes with that? What are the most important questions that your org needs to ask itself? What should the answers be?
Find out at our live chat this Thursday, Dec. 6, at noon ET with our experts:
Nancy Osgood, Founder and President of The Osgood Group, who specializes in revenue generation and large-scale planning and restructuring to support profitable growth
Stephen Pratt, Director of Financial Sustainability at Root Cause,
who will be publishing a white paper in January on the divergent
understanding of funders and nonprofit leaders on the meaning of
"It doesn't matter how big or small the organization is,
there's always a cap on resources available, and it's really important
to make sure those resources are aligned for the most effective
How can nonprofits plan for revenue growth and diversification? Nancy Osgood, founder and president of the Osgood Group,
shares tips from her years of experience working with organizations of
all types on revenue plans, audits, and strategies for growth. The
Osgood Group is a management advisory firm that helps nonprofit
organizations and socially focused businesses improve performance,
effectiveness and sustainability. In this short video, Nancy answers the
What is revenue planning?
What are some common mistakes you see organizations make when it comes to pursuing revenue growth?
What about fundraising plans - where do they fit?
How do organizations get started with revenue planning?
(This post is our first from Nancy Osgood, president of The Osgood Group, a management advisory
firm that helps nonprofit organizations and socially focused businesses
improve performance, effectiveness and sustainability. She teaches,
lectures and consults on revenue opportunity identification, evaluation,
planning and implementation. Look for her course on revenue
generation, which is being launched by the Foundation Center in
Cleveland in December.)
“Would you develop and teach a multi-session workshop to help nonprofit organizations identify and launch earned income ventures?”
This request launched my teaching career a number of years ago, and I am so thankful. Teaching has become an extremely satisfying complement to my consulting work. The request also forced me to define my approach to helping nonprofit organizations travel safely through the minefields to smart revenue growth.
Stolen shamelessly from medicine, my “consultant’s credo” is: First do no harm. With that in mind, I said that I would be happy to develop and teach a workshop on earned income, but only if we both agreed on the desired outcome: To talk most participating nonprofit organizations out of launching earned income ventures. How did I come to this? Twenty years in the field doing the work and helping others do the work (and also being in the spray of a few detonated mines) led me to a few immutable truths:
First, revenue ideas abound, and limiting an organization’s focus to one sexy type of revenue — earned income — can cause an organization to forgo much bigger revenue opportunities.
Second, most earned income ventures fail to produce meaningful revenue streams, and worse, take the organizations that pursue them off mission, compromising outcomes for those they serve. Of course, there are earned income success stories across all nonprofit subsectors, and several subsectors — performing arts, higher education and healthcare — have earned income as a natural part of their business model. But for most nonprofits, earned income successes are the exceptions.
Perhaps you are stuck on my earlier statement that revenue ideas abound. Trust me. It’s true. Using a few simple exercises, organizations can develop revenue ideas faster than you can say, “Sign me up!” But, an idea is just an idea, and although ideas abound, time, money, staff and board focus do not. They are limited resources and must be applied for the best possible organizational return.
Organizations achieve success with revenue growth when they follow a disciplined and thoughtful process. Such a process turns a long list of revenue ideas into a short list of strong, achievable revenue opportunities. This is accomplished by evaluating revenue ideas against each other, using a set of criteria that includes financial impact, mission achievement, organizational skills and other factors that address an organization’s specific situation and strategic goals. This is an important part of revenue planning, critical to an organization’s long-term sustainability.
Revenue planning can be a fun and invigorating process for board and staff alike. It can be done as a process unto itself, or as a part of a strategic planning process. In the end, it delivers results by aligning resources with those opportunities most likely to deliver the best return (financial and mission) for the organization.
Why do some nonprofits fail after a few years, while other organizations continue to thrive for decades? The difference is that successful nonprofits often exhibit organizational capacity in four key areas: leadership, programs, finances, and adaptability.
This conversation on adaptability is the second in the Foundation Center’s four-part series on Nonprofit Sustainability. Adaptive capacity refers to the potential within a nonprofit organization to respond in a timely and creative fashion to internal and external change. Key to this capacity is preparing a nonprofit’s governance, administration, and finances to respond to unanticipated obstacles and opportunities that arise down the road.
Our expert speakers share their insights on how an organization can monitor and assess change both within itself and in the sector and world as a whole, and prepare action plans that use the organization's strengths to take full advantage of the opportunities found in challenging situations. Peter York, a Senior Partner and Chief Research and Learning Officer at TTC Group, moderates the discussion between our panelists: Robin Burnstein, the Executive Director at Encore Experiences; and Doug Eschbach, the Executive Director of Generations of Indian Valley. Hear first-hand accounts from representatives of nonprofits that have successfully cultivated adaptive capacity in their organizations. Watch now >>
Is your emerging nonprofit organization facing management hurdles it cannot yet handle? A nonprofit incubator could offer your group assistance with getting off the ground and tackling necessary financial and administrative tasks while you’re focusing on key programmatic work.
During this Foundation Center seminar, panelists from a variety of organizations that provide incubation services explain the resources they provide. Robert Acton, the Executive Director of NYC Taproot Foundation moderates the discussion between our panelists who include: Matthew Klein, the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Foundation New York; Mary McCormick, the President of Fund for the City of New York; Cynthia Rivera Weissblum, the President and CEO of Edwin Gould Foundation; and Rhea Wong, the Executive Director of Breakthrough New York. They discuss the details of seed funding, financial services, insurance coverage, and more, along with information on how you can obtain the help of an incubator for your nonprofit group. Watch >>
Running a nonprofit organization is about more than just well-executed programmatic work; it is also about the organizational structures that need to be in place to help maintain financial sustainability. Everyone in a nonprofit, from the executive director to the receptionist, has a role in the financial management of the organization.
At this special event, Paul Konigstein, Principal of Mission First Finance, explains each staff member's role, ranging from the twelve ways every executive director should be involved in the organization's finances, to the three things every receptionist should do. He also covers helpful tips for trustees, program managers, fundraisers, and administrators. Watch now!
Developing a business plan,
when setting up a nonprofit organization, not only helps to identify the real
costs involved in running programs and services, but also helps increase the
chances of securing financial support. In addition, a business plan prepares us
for unexpected financial downturns that could put the sustainability of our
projects at risk.
The Foundation Center is
pleased to present the third and last program in our “Lessons Learned” series for nonprofit start-up organizations.
The moderator, Danielle Lanyard, guides the
conversation about using business plans to build a sustainable charitable
organization between two knowledgeable founders and executive directors of
nonprofits: Erin Barnes from ioby and Greg
Miller from Dance Parade. Together they take on the question of just
how exactly does one set up a business plan? Watch now >>
Administrative collaboration involves two or more nonprofits consolidating administrative aspects of their operation in order to be more effective. It is typically aimed at increasing efficiency, includes formal agreement for contracting, exchanging, or sharing services, and allows the nonprofits to share decision-making powers.
Tom McLaughlin, author of Nonprofit Mergers and Alliances and the founder of McLaughlin and Associates, answers some of the Foundation Center’s questions regarding administrative collaborations. This is the first video of a three-part series where Tom McLaughlin answers questions about different types of nonprofit collaborations. Watch now!
An operating reserve is your nonprofit's "rainy day fund" for when its cash flow unexpectedly drops. "Reserves should be used to solve timing problems, not deficit problems," according to the Nonprofits Assistance Fund.
Conventional wisdom says that three to six months' worth of operating expenses should be in your reserve. Yet survey after survey continues to show that as many as 50 percent of nonprofits don't even have reserves in place -- a highly risky financial position to have when the economy is still volatile and foundation giving is predicted to grow slowly for the near future.
So how much should your nonprofit have in reserves? How do you build them up? We gave answers on Monday, June 25, 1-2pm ET, when we will held a live chat on this topic with Alice Richardson Antonelli, Senior Finance Advisor, and Rodney Christopher, Vice President, Consulting Services, from the Nonprofit Finance Fund. We devoted most of the hour to your questions! Read the transcript now>>