Unrestricted Revenue and Why You Should Care

Nonprofit is not a literal term

Nonprofit is not a literal term. I've said it before and I'll say it a billion more times if I have to! 

Here's the thing about nonprofits and money - we need it, we seek it out, we get it, and then, we do what the people who give us the money tell us to do whether they know what they are talking about or not. Right? 

Nonprofits are forced to keep overhead down because it looks bad to donors. Heck, we even score nonprofits on this metric, as if it somehow says something about a nonprofit's fiscal responsibility if they have an overhead rate less than 10%. God forbid they spend any money at all on fundraising (say the funders and donors, who are scrutinizing the website, printed materials, etc and etc...ironic, just a little?).

Yeah, I get it, to some degree. Nonprofits have a social mission, and must invest in meeting that mission, rather than fancy offices and bloated salaries. That's reasonable. But what's not reasonable is requiring this blanket generalization to all nonprofits everywhere, all the time. That's just silly. 

So, if you're like me, you're scratching your head over how on earth to do the work that really needs to be done but that no foundations are really interested in right now, and donors don't know what the significance is, or it's not innovative (everyone loves funding "innovation" now), or it's TOO innovative...the list goes on...you might be thinking you need some money, but you don't need so many strings. 

Is this you? 

Good. You're on the right track. 

Look, I am all for philanthropy, giving, participating, buying into and sharing the mission of social good. Let's keep that rocking and let's build it up, make it better, make it bigger! At the same time, I am not interested in advancing the paternalism that is virtually unavoidable when you have the money trickling down from funders, donors, and corporate foundations that is inevitably more aligned with their agenda than with the mission you actually work on, every single day, on the ground, in the trenches, with the people. 

Scratching your head as to how to change the world with $0?

Scratching your head as to how to change the world with $0?

What can be done? 

Nonprofits have a lot of potential to build business models (yeah, I said "business model" and I'm not even going to apologize or be soft and call it a "funding model"). These business models can be built on your mission, even. That's right. Your mission, monetized. 

Philanthropy v. Revenue - it's a tension to navigate.

Philanthropy v. Revenue - it's a tension to navigate.

"Wait. Did you just say "MONETIZED???" I hate that corporate buzzword."

Here's the thing. You have stakeholders - you have products/services. You have ideas. You have a great staff/volunteer base/board/brother-in-law who owes you one. You can take what you already are doing, think about it a little bit differently, and start your way toward building unrestricted mission aligned revenue. Cool, right? 

The best thing is, you can actually reinvest this revenue into your other, non-revenue generating activities if you so desire. Some things just don't pay, and that's a fact. No problem, other things can. 

You want in? Download the Mission Monetizer.

Not only can you find a way to leverage what you already have going on with your mission, but you can use this thing as a Logic Model too. Everybody wins! 

Sarai JohnsonComment