The Gifford Newsletter
Fall 2021 | How Nonprofits Can Earn a Profit
Building a financially sustainable organization means balancing the urgent day-to-day issues with tackling long-term projects that yield important benefits over time. Operating at these two levels simultaneously is challenging, but essential.
Investing in Internal Systems
Making time to assess administrative systems like technology, workflow, communication, and more can help you identify weak spots in your operation and ultimately save both time and money. The strength of your systems determines the quality of your services.
Identifiable Mission & Vision
Communicating mission and vision is a two way street. On one hand, it is essential to be able to express these ideas effectively to your donors and the people you serve. But it is also important to adapt your mission and vision to match the priorities and expectations of your community.
Many nonprofit organizations raise their eyebrows when you suggest that they could benefit from thinking more like a business. Immediately, many of the worst stereotypes of the corporate world come to mind – usually in the form of valuing money over people. But this does not have to be the case: from our seat as a funder, we have seen many examples of organizations who have built revenue streams that actually lead to better experiences for their audiences and a higher level of service.
In the beginning of 2021, The Gifford Foundation launched its newest capacity building program with a cohort of six CNY-based nonprofits. These organizations are now roughly halfway through the 15-month process which guides them through an intensive self-assessment and planning curriculum led by trained consultants. We checked in with participants and consultants to see what lessons have emerged from the process so far.
The ongoing need to ask for funding is a challenge that unites nearly all nonprofits. Fundraising is endless, difficult, and often time consuming. Yet when the pandemic arrived, private donations proved to be one of the few revenue sources that did not dry up. Today’s public health reality means that event-based revenue is no longer a reliable option, and this has created a surge of innovation in the nonprofit community as organizations reimagine how they connect with their audiences.
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