Nearly every dollar in a nonprofit’s budget originally came from a generous donor. That means nonprofit leaders have to be even more diligent in spending, not only because the budget is tight but because of their responsibility to donors. Though operating on a modest budget is almost always challenging, there are many ways nonprofits can make their budgets go further and lighten the load.
Take advantage of nonprofit rates and resources.
Many services offer a discounted rate for nonprofits or even free resources. This is particularly true for online services and technology. Services like Google Workspace for Nonprofits, Salesforce (relationship management software) for nonprofits, Canva (web design) and other platforms are all free services nonprofits can take advantage of. Other opportunities like Google ad grants, discounts on Stripe credit card services, grants from Walmart, and Social Good by Facebook exist to help equip nonprofits with the services they need without going over budget.
Invest in your employees.
Similarly, be sure to invest in your employees and make sure they feel valued. Because of tight budgets, nonprofits have an acute need to get the most out of every person’s contributions. If work/life balance isn’t carefully protected, nonprofits can easily slip into a pattern of employee burnout. A 2019 study from Nonprofit HR notes that turnover rates at nonprofits are very high at 21 percent, (16 percent were voluntary). Especially after the effects of COVID-19, many nonprofits are also facing employee shortages. A recent study from the Council of Nonprofits reported 26 percent of nonprofits had a vacancy of 20-29% of their positions, while another third of the respondents said 10-19% of their positions were vacant. Fundraising site Givebutter also reports that 30 percent of nonprofit employees are experiencing burnout and another 20 percent are close to it. Overworked employees on the verge of burnout is not a sustainable model for a nonprofit. Check in with your employees regularly to understand how they are doing and if they need additional support.
In support of the previous two points, utilize technology to automate and lighten the burden wherever possible. Services are constantly evolving to minimize the amount of time-consuming and monotonous tasks people have historically had to spend valuable time on. Using technology to manage them saves time and money, plus it frees up your employees to work on other projects that require more critical thinking, empathy and other more “human” qualities. Automation and technology can be applied to anything from employee management to timesheets, online fundraising, relationship management systems, equipping employees to be more efficient with their work, and more. It may take an investment on the front end of both time and money to get started, but streamlining processes and increasing efficiency is a great way to trim down the budget.
Maintain equal focus on donor retention.
Just as it’s less costly to keep and invest in a current employee than to hire a new one, it’s less costly to keep a current donor than acquire a new one. Make sure you’re putting just as much emphasis on keeping current donors involved with the work as you are attracting new donors. They’re already familiar with your work and have seen the impact you’re having. If you need volunteers, current donors are easier to engage. Be sure they feel included in the work you’re doing and understand your gratitude for their generosity. Not sure how they feel? You can always ask them. Donor surveys are not only helpful for your leadership going forward, but they can help donors feel heard and seen.
Evaluate expenses regularly.
Nonprofits are a busy world to be in. It might seem like you’re constantly putting out fires or triaging urgent tasks, but it’s important to carve out time to evaluate your expenses regularly. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and go on auto-pilot, but keeping a handle on vendor expenses, overhead costs and the amount of time being spent on projects is critical to getting the most out of your budget.
Find creative ways to get items you need without paying full price.
Buying items you need for your business secondhand or accepting donated items can be a great way to save money, but sometimes it can be hard to find items that are still in great condition and meet your needs. One way to find the items you need and know they’re going to perform is by checking WIN Warehouse first. WIN takes in donations of excess inventory from corporations and offers them to nonprofits at a deeply discounted rate – sometimes 90 percent off original prices. From office chairs and cleaning supplies to tools and machinery, WIN Warehouse can be a great resource for nonprofits to save money so they can do more good in the world.
We love helping nonprofits because we love seeing you do more good in the world. As you take advantage of all the tips and strategies to make your budget go further, join WIN Warehouse as one of our nonprofit members. You’ll save on the items you need and be able to put that generously donated money back into your mission.
You can become a member today! Or learn more by calling 314-385-3006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.