Tips For Your Non-Profit To Save..Save..Save
are three common elements that most nonprofits share. First the
need for operational and/or capital dollars exceeds what they
currently have. Second, most public charities are doing good
things in the communities they serve, and third, in order for a
nonprofit to last they must operate like a business! Nonprofits
often times find themselves in a rut of constantly putting out
fires, leaving little time to truly manage their business.
It is difficult to know all that is needed to manage your
organization. Too often the ideas that seem so obvious to one
individual are so enlightening to another.
Savings Tip #1
Beware of the supposed savings on office supplies,
janitorial supplies or light bulbs through the mail or by phone.
Often times those sales calls or color fliers, while tempting,
fall in the category of too good to be true. In most cases the
savings are due to the fact that the merchandise you receive is
of poor quality or there are usually outrageous shipping and
handling fees when you get the item. These companies try to get
you to agree for them to send you a free
sample, then they will send you a bill! To make matters
worse, if you do make a few purchases you will normally get
sales calls offering you further “deals” when you least want
them, taking you away from running your organization, or
you’ll get more junk mail than you can stand.
not buy locally from the people who support you? If you are in
need of office supplies, why not try Staples or Office Depot, if
these chain stores are in your area? The local store managers,
when approached, have the authority to donate items to nonprofit
organizations. One way you might try this is to have your list
of items you need and tell the manager up front that you plan to
purchase the items at their store, but you would love their help
and support if he could donate any portion of these items. Get
the store manager’s name and business card and give them your
brochure or any material about your organization. Also, be
considerate of the manager’s time; please do not show up at
peak business hours or at lunch.
Regardless if anything is donated, send a thank you note
for at least taking their time and/or for their donation! Build
the relationship and put them on your newsletter mailing list as
Tip # 2
utilities costs by asking your local utility company to come out
to your facility to do an audit to determine how you could save
money. One idea may be putting on a window tinting, placing
water saving units in your toilets, or installing hand dryers to
reduce paper towel usage. As you look to save money, look at the
cost of any improvement and the amount of time it would take for
you to recover the cost in savings.
Carolina as well as in other states nonprofits can get a refund
on the sales tax they spend; however, it is not automatic. You
must apply for the refund and have the proper documentation to
show you did actually spend that amount, so save those receipts!
Savings Tip #4
a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization, the federal government has
provided you the luxury of
'opting' out of the state unemployment tax system and directly
reimburse the state for benefits paid to former employees.
Opting out of the state unemployment tax system can save
nonprofits a considerable amount of money, however, exposes the
nonprofit to self-insurance risks. For more information go to:
Out Of State Unemployment Taxes
Savings Tip #5
If your organization does direct mail or mails out
newsletters, you should consider getting a nonprofit bulk
postage permit. By making changes like adding the nine-digit zip
code as well as bar codes, you can further lower postage cost.
The United States Post Office has a program that can help
organizations with their mailing list to get proper zip codes.
You should make an appointment to talk with your local
postmaster about these savings. Lastly, consider emailing your
Savings Tip #6
Beware of in-house printing for your newsletter or other
printed materials. While today is the age of everyone using
high-tech computers and printers allowing most of us to produce
a wonderful looking product, be careful. Make sure you honestly
run the numbers on all the cost. Include the time staff spends
on printing and folding, the repair cost to the copying machines
and supply cost, versus taking the project to a local printer.
in prevention! It is important to be covered for those really big and
unexpected expenses. Every nonprofit should have “directors
and officers insurance” that covers the board in case of
lawsuits. You should look at insurance that includes fire,
flood, plate glass coverage, computer hardware and software,
theft, and dishonesty. If you have a retirement plan the
person who is directly in charge of that may need to be bonded.
Executive directors of an organization should also be insured
Savings Tip #8
Invest in accountability.
You should have a “Board Member Performance Plan” for
everyone who is asked to serve on the board. Board members need
to know what is expected of them. Board members should not only
be advisors but active in raising funds and providing the vision
for the future of the organization.
Likewise, there should be written job descriptions for
all staff members as well as the minimum of an annual review.
Savings Tip #9
As a general
rule, when you are planning a major purchase or contracting for
a service, it is best to get three written bids. By doing this
you can ensure competitive prices and get accurate comparisons.
Savings Tip #10
full cost of buying a service, or product. Read the fine print
and see if there are any hidden charges. Sometimes there are
delivery fees or special maintenance fees.
copy machine you lease you could be charged if you produce more
copies per month than your lease allows, or you may be charged
bill you pay for a Yellow Page ad is not an annual bill but a
monthly cost! Beware of fake bills that look like a Yellow
Page bill that is to include you in a national directory, which
no one uses.
Savings Tip #11
Ask for a
discount on everything! You are not going to get it unless you
You also should
not be ashamed to ask. If you truly believe in your organization
and can express your passion to others about your cause, just
ask. Because the worst thing a person can say is no. Some
companies give you a discount if you prepay a bill or pay a bill
within a certain period of time.
Savings Tip #12
in bulk when it makes sense and you have a place to store the
items, but only when it is more cost effective and you really
need the item. Don’t buy an item just because it is on sale!
Also, make sure to ask others in the nonprofit community where
they found the best deals and share your information with
Savings Tip #13
a budget, a budget process, and keep staff aware of your
finances. Allow staff to “own” the budget and give them the
responsibility and authority for sub-budgets. Too often this
task is one that just the executive committee or executive
director and board treasurer work on. To truly be useful, the
budget must be honest and fully justify any increases shown from
the previous year’s budget. Numbers must not just be picked
out of thin air. If you budget a 10% increase in the amount of
individual donations you expect to receive, then what are you
doing next year that you didn’t do this year to make that a
reasonable assumption? Sometimes in nonprofits, when executive
directors draw up the first draft of the budget, they tend to
increase the expected donation revenue from the previous year
without honestly having a plan to back this up. The budget is
the organization’s blueprint for the year ahead expressed in
monetary terms the specific goals and objectives that both the
board and staff as partners are expected to achieve. The budget
should be looked at by your board month to month; the staff and
board should make adjustments as needed.
Savings Tip #14
policies and make sure each staff member knows each of your
policies. Be consistent in your enforcement of these
policies. Make no exceptions. Otherwise, you will open up
yourself and the organization to a lawsuit.
Savings Tip #15
at the right time of year.
Nonprofits typically buy items the day they need them and
not before. However, you might ask a supplier if and when an
item might go on sale.
Savings Tip #16
volunteers instead of staff. However, don’t fool yourself by
thinking that just because you use a volunteer you are getting
something totally free. Any good program requires that a
volunteer be trained, which does cost money. However, volunteers
can do repairs, clean or help with special events or provide a
Savings Tip #17
Join with others in
a group-purchasing program for equipment, supplies or services.
Many national organizations have these programs. Or you may
consider starting one locally. You will be surprised if you
examine the purchasing power of your nonprofit community.
Savings Tip #18
the cost effectiveness of every program your organization runs.
Programs you have for your clients cost you money, and you must
know if you are truly are getting the biggest bang for your buck
providing the programs or could you do something else to better
serve your clients?
Saving Tip #19
your fund raising plan. If you have your twentieth annual fund
raiser only because that is what you have always done, then
consider what it truly does cost you by having the fund raiser.
Your board’s time is valuable, and there are only so many fund
raising events you are going to be able to motivate any board to
not automatically pay late fees, interest charges or bank fees.
Ask for fees to be waived if you normally are a good payer of
your bills. Even with banks now merging and becoming larger,
they still want to have a community presence, and no bank wants
to get a bad reputation for not being kind to nonprofits.
Savings Tip #21
your bills. People and computers make mistakes. Don’t pay a
bill on blind faith. Also, if you did not get what you paid for,
dispute the bill.
Saving Tip #22
professional advice and don’t feel like you have to know
everything yourself because that's impossible! The best board is
made up of professionals. Consider having at least one lawyer,
accountant and insurance agent.
Saving Tip #23
current with labor laws and other laws that effect your
organization. You may need to purchase a newsletter or other
publication to get the information you need.
Saving Tip #24
at your organization, keeping in mind safety and security. Is
the work environment safe? Are the parking lots lit with proper
lighting? Many times insurance companies will give you a credit
on your insurance policy if you have an alarm system, but you
have to ask for it. You
also need to ensure in case of fire that everyone knows the
evacuation routes and at least two ways out of the facility and
where to meet to make sure everyone is out of the building.
Saving Tip #25
should keep back-up copies off-site of any important records,
like financial records. This should be a part of your overall
disaster plan that you should establish.
Saving Tip #26
free office furniture and other equipment by asking the major
corporations and banks if they have any they would consider
donating. Every state agency has a surplus property program.
Universities and community colleges have similar programs, and
even though most of what they do not use is supposed to revert
back to the state, you may be able to talk with them at a local
level and receive a donation. Also, consider hospitals as a
source of furniture, or if you need used sheets and towels for
rags they may donate but you must ask.
Saving Tip #27
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Authorized nonprofit organizations
are eligible for additional savings.
Nonprofit organizations and businesses use Standard Mail® the
same way. The only difference is that authorized nonprofit
organizations are eligible for additional savings on Standard
Mail. Eligibility to use nonprofit rates is based both on the
eligibility of the organization and the content of the mail
piece as established by federal statues. Authorized Nonprofit
organizations can use Standard Mail or Enhanced Carrier Route
Eligible Organizations - Simply being an IRS-approved nonprofit
organization does not qualify an organization for these rates.
Typically, there are 10 categories of organizations that may be
Organizations eligible for nonprofit rates include:
Voter Registration Officials
National and State Political Parties
For more information read the following:
Business Mail 101 contains an
overview of the application process and
DMM 703 Nonprofit Standard Mail and Other Unique
Also, Nonprofit Enhanced Carrier Route Standard Mail allows
nonprofit organizations to save even more for bulk mailings
weighing less than 16 ounces. All you have to do is sort mail
pieces to the individual carrier routes within a 5-digit ZIP
Remember, think outside the box!
specializes in managing non-cash donations for nonprofit
organizations. By converting a wide range of donated inventories
into cash, AdTech is able to increase cash funding to your
World - Over
1,500 of the most useful consumer resources on the Internet, and
categorized them here for easy access. Loads of useful consumer
in Kind America
A generous 3M corporate product donation in 1983 marked the
beginning of Gifts In Kind International, a charitable
organization that today is the 8th largest in the world. Today's
top manufacturers and retailers, including 40 percent of the
Fortune 500 companies, rely on Gifts In Kind International to
design and manage the donation process.
Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR)
NAEIR is a nonprofit organization founded in 1977 and dedicated
to soliciting donations of valuable, new merchandise from
American corporations (donors)
and redistributing this merchandise to our members,
nonprofit organizations, churches, and schools.
has the living essentials you need, at wholesale prices! The
line of products include baby care kits, basic kitchen
accessories, personal hygiene kits, bathroom toiletries, first
aid kits, dish racks, eating utensils, and bedding accessories.
Surplus Exchange collects discarded and surplus business equipment
from area, regional and national businesses. They bring this
equipment into their 50,000 square foot warehouse, refurbish,
rebuild or repair the items if necessary. This equipment is made
available to their primary concern - The Nonprofit Community, and
to general public secondary markets. Sales to secondary markets
help fund their environmental, educational and human service
programs and help keep prices lower to our charities.
If you have found this page helpful please let us know. Contact Us.