Creative Budgeting for Nonprofit Organzations

by | Oct 4, 2017 | Budgeting, Development/Fundraising

How many of you have been excited about a grant prospect only to realize that every single line item the donor is willing to approve must be for the direct use of program participants? This is where Creative Budgeting comes in to play.

It is not uncommon in today’s grant world to find donors who balk at supporting personnel expenses, office supplies, marketing materials, or anything else that is not directly utilized by the target audience.

Ronald McDonald House Charities, for example, is extremely generous in their giving to initiatives that benefit children. However, grant funds that are traditionally limited to program supplies, not overhead or outreach, can still serve a greater purpose for your organization.

This year, I decided to get creative in my approach to marketing and programming so that I could honor the donor’s priorities while increasing the program’s impact for our organization and community.

Check out the following fun ways of getting more BANG for your BUCK:

1. Team identity items

This is great verbiage to use in a budget line item to illustrate that all purchases made will directly impact program participants. However, this line item also allows you to efficiently blend programming and marketing efforts!  (Check Out our short YouTube tutorial : Creative Budgeting for Any Nonprofit Looking to Save Money

Consider items that serve a specific and necessary program purpose but also have the potential to raise awareness or dollars for your organization.

Excess merchandise can also be sold to generate revenue which then becomes “unrestricted funds.” If grant dollars restrict purchased items to the exact number of program participants, you still have all the design costs covered so that branded items won’t cost as much when you place future orders!

  • T-shirts– for staff, volunteers, program participants. What’s better than walking billboards for your program?
  • Water bottles– especially if your program has a health/fitness component
  • Pens/notebooks/thumb drives– for educational, vocational, or other similar programs
  • Tote bags– great for any program but especially those who are looking at “going green”

2. Bookmarks vs Business Cards

Consider hosting a bookmark competition to generate awareness for your program/cause.  A “People’s Choice” winner has the potential to increase traffic and excitement on your social media pages. Consider using original artwork on one side and your organization’s mission and/or contact information on the back. Bookmarks are colorful, can be printed at a low cost, allow for space a standard business card doesn’t and is much more fun to hand out at outreach events!

3. Blank Space = Ad Space

Consider selecting program materials that offer space that can be utilized for ads. For example, if you purchase a van to transport program participants consider selling space to program sponsors. One fifteen passenger van can generate as much as $20,000 annually if you play your cards right.

Are you hoping to install a bench, table, or other functional items in your program space? Perhaps a local artist or business will pay to post their graphics or services. Benches are great to sit on but they are even greater when they are colorful and generating revenue!

These are just a few creative ways to blend program line items with your organization’s much-needed marketing efforts.

Tax Status vs Business Model

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