Your Ingenious Nonprofit
Karen Eber Davis
“We don’t even need to discuss this one,” Mike Clark’s CFO said, “It saves us three to four times the cost.” Mike Clark and his CFO were in the midst of budget planning. They were reviewing their memberships to determine which to fund in the next year. The membership that didn’t need discussing was for The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York.
Clark, who is now President of the Committee, shared this conversation with me earlier this year. We were discussing value and nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York offers its members fourteen cost-saving programs. This and other benefits make renewals, and the income they provide, nearly automatic.
Your nonprofit may or may not offer memberships, but to obtain income you must provide value to your customers and donors. To help you clarify your value and your resulting income equation, let’s clarify the four value components that help The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York to acquire one million dollars annually.
How to Create Income by Creating Value
First, ensure that your value exceeds the fees or donations requested.
At a minimum, the value you provide should equal the fee or donation. To make the opportunity irresistible, provide value in excess of it.
Second, be sure your customer or donor desires the value.
Yesterday a CEO proudly told me that her nonprofit could turn a $2,000 donation into $62,000 worth of services for disabled people. This is an excellent example of a value that exceeds a donation. However, to obtain income she must find donors who value those services. Unless your donors and customers value what you offer, you won’t generate income. For instance, Mr. Clark’s CFO valued their membership with The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York. He estimated that the membership generated saving equal to three times the fee.
Third, make your offer distinctive.
Offer items or services that your donors or customers desire but can’t obtain, find difficult to obtain, or that you can do better. Do this by offering services, experiences, or products, based on your nonprofit’s expertise. To help its fifteen hundred members, The Committee brokers group discounts that are not available to individual nonprofits. These include payroll processing, insurance, and conference room rental.
Finally, cement your value with relationships.
So far we’ve learned to provide value that is well suited to your nonprofit’s expertise and that exceeds the cost. To fortify the value, add one more element: relationships. The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York offers interactive experiences that include an excellence award, training and support, workshops, and roundtables. Each experience helps members to be part of a learning community and forge new relationships with The Committee.
To obtain more income, provide more value. Use this formula:
- Make the value generous for the income requested.
- Base the value on your customers’ and donors’ perceptions of it.
- Make your offer exclusive.
- Cement the value with opportunities to form relationships.
Use this formula to grow your income. To provide more income, provide more value. How will you do it?