1. Get Free Stuff
There are all sorts of free stuff available to non-profits. You just have to know where to look. Need computers, desks, chairs? Here are just a few places to look: Good 360, NAEIR, ReBoot, DeliverGood, Throwplace.com, National Cristina Foundation (NCF).
Need some pro-bono consulting, management, marketing, human resources or IT help? Check out Tap Root Foundation.
If you can’t find what you need here, ask! In fact, you should always have a list on your website of things you need. Soliciting in-kind donations is common for non-profits, and you never know just what you’ll get. For example, a business owner may donate paper and office supplies to an organization she supports and an accountant may provide free accounting services.
2. Never Pay Full Price
Well, if you can’t get it free, at least you can get a discount! Many organizations offer special discount rates for non-profits. TechSoup, for instance, gives software to non-profit organizations at significantly reduced rates. You should always be checking to see if there are special rates. In some cases, they just aren’t published anywhere.
In many countries non-profits qualify for special discounted mail rates for bulk mailings. Setting up discounted mail service is often as simple as filling out a form and paying a small registration fee. Non-profits that send out lots of fundraising mail or other types of direct mail can save significant sums through discounted postage costs.
3. Make Use of Volunteers
A great way to cut overhead costs is just to make use of volunteers. They are willing to donate their time, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be taking them up on that generous offer! There are lots of great websites to find volunteers: Idealist.org and Volunteer Match just to name two. Once you find good help, do what you can to hold onto them. Constant retraining is costly. Make sure that you are considerate of your volunteers. For example, don’t have them come into the office if you only have 60 minutes of work for them, and don’t give them things to do that can be done more efficiently by a computer.
4. Reuse and Recycle
It’s simple. The same environmental standards that you use at home should be used for your organization. Any item that can be reused should be reused. Any items that cannot be reused should be recycled, whenever possible. This will not only cut your purchasing costs, but it could reduce your trash collection bill as well.
5. Partner Up
Need to buy a big ticket item like office and event space, automobiles, copiers and office equipment and even support staff? Consider partnering with other non-profits to share costs. You can really save a significant amount of money this way. Just be sure that you have written agreements in place with your counterpart organizations to ensure that the terms and responsibilities of the sharing arrangement are understood by all parties.
6. Be Frugal
Finally, always be cautious about spending and don’t spend money on things just because you have it. Sometimes this means you have to be creative. Think about how you can consolidate to save. For example, some non-profits spend money on all kinds of different software for email marketing, for fundraising and for volunteer or membership management. Meanwhile, they could be saving a lot of money if they instead looked for one solution to do it all – like Sumac!