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How to minimize the expenses of your non-profit

When you’re running a charity or a nonprofit, the main idea is to raise as much money as possible for your cause, but sometimes your overhead can get in the way and that large sum of money intended for those in need starts to dry up.

Don’t fret, because there are various tricks that can help you cut down expenses and make the most of the donations you get.

1

Switch to effective fundraising methods

Many charities still only receive payments by cheques, cash, or standing orders, although these methods require a lot of administrative processes and expenses. According to a survey by the Charities Aid Foundation, cash is still the most popular way of donating for 55% of people. The reason for this partially lies in the fact that a great number of charities still don’t offer a Direct Debit system, a significantly less expensive system. Credit and debit cards can streamline the charitable giving process, but the downside is that they come with big processing fees. So, the best option is to leverage Direct Debit and minimize your banking fees.

2

Plan in advance

To make sure that your cash flow is steady and consistent, plan charitable and fundraising activities well in advance and take into consideration popular times for donations. September is usually the beginning of the charitable season, while the last three months of the year account for 34% of all donations, so it’s important to prepare your campaigns and have them in place as the holiday season picks up steam. Planning will also allow you to overcome regular seasonal slumps and fulfill your commitments.

3

Use cloud computing

Cloud computing is a technology with numerous benefits both in terms of its effectiveness and giving instant results. Namely, using traditional software requires constant updates and having an IT team to maintain it is pretty expensive, while cloud computing offers numerous free options and tools such as Google for Nonprofits. Apart from cutting costs, this technology allows remote access and adds another layer of protection to your data.

4

Leverage volunteers

It’s no secret that a substantial amount of money in nonprofits goes to salaries. Downsizing is the last resort, but you still need to limit the number of employees who are on your payroll and start relying more on volunteers when the workload increases. Use social media, email marketing, and formal announcements to attract more volunteers. In order to make your offer more appealing, throw in incentives and make sure that your existing volunteers are treated well as they’re your best brand ambassadors.

5

Share office space with another nonprofit

Renting an office usually turns out to be one of the biggest operating expenses, especially if you’re situated in London or Dublin. As there’s no need to waste the money from donations on a luxury such as a fancy downtown office, you can team up with another nonprofit and rent a workspace or building together. Such an arrangement will help you save a huge amount of money and direct it towards your cause.

6

Reassess your vendors and individual contractors

Many nonprofits tend to stick with the same vendors for a long time just because they once offered the best price. However, prices change and new companies show up, so maybe you’ll be able to find better offers from other service providers. It’s a good idea to assess your vendors and individual contractors at least once every six months. The same goes for the quality of their services. If you notice a slight drop in quality, don’t wait for things to get out of hand, but take action to improve them.

7

Avoid office phone systems

A landline office phone system paired with voicemail and messaging is an extremely costly option. Although every nonprofit or charity absolutely needs a phone system, you and your staff can use your own devices, because covering personal plans is much cheaper. However, if you need a system with a business phone number, there are work-based cell phone plans which are still much more affordable than the traditional office phone system.

8

Rethink in-house printing

Outsourcing printing is a surefire way of trimming your sails. As charities need printing services all the time for various promotional materials, invitations, and publications, it’s clear that you need professional printing equipment which requires regular maintenance. Take into account misprints and bad copies, and these mistakes happen more often than you would like. So, instead of spending money on gallons of ink and tons of paper, not to mention the time your employees need to print your new brochures, leave all the work and responsibility to a local print shop and reduce your printing expenses by 30%.

Further information

Some of these cost-cutting ideas are extremely simple and seemingly very slight, but as they add up you can actually save a small fortune and invest it in a much better way. 

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Page last edited Aug 16, 2018 History

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