Innovation: How Nonprofits Expand and Grow

By: Peggy JenningsPeggy Jennings

Nonprofits understand the need for money to fulfill their mission. With traditional donations dropping, nonprofits are forced to develop sustainable revenue generating initiatives. But how is that accomplished? One way is to ensure that you are doing the most you can with what you have. In our experience, there are several ways that nonprofits can be innovative in how they achieve their revenue generation goals:

Expand what you do – take knowledge you already have from your mission-driven operations and create new programs. Examples:

  • A nonprofit whose mission is to support disabled persons with employment opportunities created a new program to receive, repackage and sell local produce in a retail storefront
  • Animal rescue operations were expanded with a retail operation for dog and cat grooming
  • Job placement services for homeless adults were bolstered by initiating a culinary training program also offered to the wider community

Change the way you fundraise – refresh that annual gala or golf tournament with an event that will attract new donors to your cause. Examples:

  • Symphony created a triple-play win by hosting a music / food / wine event
  • Healthcare unit sponsored a series of dance marathons at local high schools
  • Art for students entity raised funds with a “300 plates” event – student artists created small art pieces that were then auctioned off to the public

Use your assets wisely – what do you already have that can be re-purposed? Examples:

  • Junior league chapter remodeled their office space to be more efficient and now rent their excess space to tenants
  • Animal shelter supports local nursing homes and care centers by providing pet companions to residents, generating donations from new donor base
  • Opera recycles stage sets to create new staging for first-run productions

Theses nonprofits along with many others have successfully implemented sustainable initiatives. By using the resources you have available you can achieve sustainability and further pursue your mission.

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