I bet your nonprofit suffers from income clutter. Every nonprofit has a closet full of potential income projects.
Doubt this? Count the number of income opportunities mentioned this week, such as a gala, grant, annual appeal, sponsors, new donors, conversations about adding a vending machine, etc. Income makes it on to nearly every conversation.
When you spend time discussing opportunities instead of seeking them, you lose income. Develop criteria to sort your options and focus your efforts to grow more on revenue. Adopt this simple four-burner stove approach to get organized and set your priorities.
1. Big Front Burner: Here, place all high-income opportunities that promise high, multiple-year yields and that you’re ready to pursue. For instance, you met a new donor with the potential to fund you for years. After you finish sorting, call her and set a coffee date.
2. Small Front Burner: Stick lower priority opportunities here. While these offer potential, they won’t yield significant amounts of income or be available multiple times. Stick that $1,000 one-time grant opportunity here. Pursue Burner #2 opportunities when you have resources, you can’t move Burner #1 or #3 forward or when you desperate to grow income this year.
3. Big Back Burner: Organize income opportunities here that require more information, different conditions, or better relationships. For instance, the CEO of a large firm uses your services. After seeking Burner #1 opportunities, determine the best way to reach out to the CEO to learn about her involvement interests. The goal? Learn enough to know if it’s appropriate to move her to Burner #1.
4. Small Back Burner: Use Burner #4 to collect ideas with uncertain potential. Don’t forget them. Instead, investigate them to move them to another burner or toss.
To grow your income, don’t just discuss opportunities. Sort first, then act.
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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