April 13, 2017

Your Financial Doomsday Clock: Is it Close to Midnight?

Is your organization at financial risk?

We’ve all read headlines about the Doomsday Clock moving toward midnight. Imagine your nonprofit has a similar instrument. It measures your organization’s financial risks. What time is it? Is it three minutes to midnight? 

Many of you share your fears with me. After all, you know donors die. Government programs end and Galas grow stale.

You’re wise to be concerned, especially if a single revenue source funds more than 25 percent of your operations.  

Three Techniques to Reset Your Clock To Morning

1. Anticipate Change

Make a contingency plan for the loss of your #1 funding stream. Plan now while you have the income.  What will you do if that income drops to zero or is too close for comfort?

2. Use a Forever Income Strategy

to reset your clock. Your forever income strategy is your preferred way of being funded. Ideally, each new donor or customer you add pushes the clock back one or more minutes or even hours.  

3. Seek resources 

like a heat-seeking-missiles seek heat. For new programs, identify how you will fund them before you begin. For every gift or sale, identify matching opportunities. For instance, a donor gives you an endowment. Show others how to follow this leader. Encourage a board to make it a policy to place a portion of every windfall in your endowment. Likewise, embrace threats by finding their counter or matching opportunities. Use the ideas you develop to fuel your revenue diversity efforts.  

No matter the time, you can move the hands of your doomsday clock toward morning. Start by knowing where you are now, and take the Open the Floodgates to Sustainability Assessment


Karen Eber Davis

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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