Five ways to stay afloat without more revenue

Kita JiwaniKita Jiwani is part of NCVO’s consulting and training team, with a focus on financial sustainability in the voluntary sector. She provides advice to NCVO members on a range of issues including capacity building, bid writing and funding.

Every day I receive calls from charities in financial difficulties. Reduced funding and increased competition has led many of our members to seek advice on how to increase their income. But as I explain in my forthcoming training course, financial sustainability, is about more than just generating more revenue.

How to remain financially buoyant in the current funding landscape

1. Define your strategy

Clarify what you do and stick to it. Lots of charities waste time and money bidding for funds which go against their core purpose. There are plenty of organisations who are genuinely geared up to deliver those outcomes and so unsurprisingly, the money goes to them. Better to set a direction at a strategic level and stay true to that path.

2. Look outwardly

Getting your head down and working hard is important. But just as crucial is getting out there and engaging with key stakeholders in your sector. Form strategic partnerships, look at what your competitors are doing and research local government strategy. Most charities get it wrong because they stop talking; they become irrelevant and they disappear; so be part of the conversation.

3. Evidence your impact

Funders – especially corporate ones – want hard evidence that you can deliver what you say you can. Make sure you have key outcomes set up which are aligned to your strategy; then put in place a robust monitoring and evaluation framework that produces statistics against those outcomes. Pictures of smiling people and case studies are great, but what really communicates your impact is data.

4. Invest in your staff

The private sector looks enviously upon the passion, commitment and drive of voluntary sector staff, so make sure you invest in them. Provide staff with the support they need to do their job, give them training and development opportunities and do everything in your power to retain them. Replacing a member of staff can cost thousands, and that is before you start counting the cost of losing their knowledge, experience and skills.

5. Stay efficient

Have a surgical approach to your finances. Key to this is setting up a system which compares projected spend with actual spend; this will tell you whether your best guess was accurate. Also make sure you share insight across the organisation to avoid duplication of work. You want to be able to quantify how much it will cost to deliver a project, and therefor say whether it gives a good return on investment.

Want to learn more?

I hope you found it positive to know that surviving in the current climate is not just about creating more cash. During our four day financial sustainability training course I will go into far more depth, giving you guidance on:

  • understanding your starting point
  • setting effective targets
  • finding strategic partners
  • setting alternative strategies
  • writing a funding plan.

You will also get a day of follow up consultation where we will review your funding plan.

You can sign up to the course online.

Find out more about how we can support your organisation to achieve its full potential.

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