Boosting Revenue: 25 Ideas to Try—third in a series of five blog posts

Boosting Revenue: 25 Ideas to Try—third in a series of five blog posts  on Surviving Financial Crisis: Strategies that Work

This is the third in a series of five blog posts around the issue of Surviving a Financial Crisis for downtown organizations. The first three in the series discussed how to organize after you hear the news that cuts are ahead and undertaking scenario planning.  This post deals with quick things you can try to boost revenue.  The following blog post will have 25 ways to cut costs.  Board member should focus on doing both: raising revenue while cutting costs to survive a financial crisis.  Our last blog post in this series will deal with communicating your message. We have been writing about fund raising for the last three years on this blog.  Many of the ideas in this top 25 list will be familiar to regular readers.  Please click on the links to read more specifics about this idea from previous blog posts.

 1. Increase some of your annual gifts levels this year—whether you  call them friends, members, investors or partners, review the dollar amount for each level of your giving pyramid and increase a few, say increase the $35 dollar family level to $40 this year.  Alternatively, add a new level at $125 if you do not already have one.  In addition, ask people to upgrade to the new level in your renewal letter. Click on the link to learn more.

2. Cut the lowest level annual gift by half and promote it wildly to gain new supporters--Popular with several statewide preservation organizations this past year, this idea makes being a supporter of your organization less expensive.  Promote this to a wide group of residents.

3.  Put a lot of attention this year on annual gift renewals—Send out letters as well as emails (if you have them) to supporters asking for them to renew. Read the article in the link in the title.

 4. Send another appeal  out to members—Great to do this about a month before the end of your fiscal year if it ends on June 30. Most Main Street organizations do not ask their members/partners/donors for gifts more than once or twice a year. It is ok to ask a few more times.

5. Start a legacy society for higher end donors—Start asking for bequests and planned gifts.

6. Increase the cost for tickets to events--When was the last time you increased your costs for anything?  If you feel this is a possible choice, raise the cost for a ticket a very modest amount, or do this in combination of the ideas 7, 8 and 9 so that loyal supporters can still participate and you get cash in the door quicker.

7. Offer a discount for early purchase of tickets--This option helps the organization’s cash flow.

8. Offer a discount for multiple purchases of tickets—Encourage people to bring their friends by offering discounts on multiple ticket purchases.

 9. Offer regular donors a discount for ticket purchase—Most do this, but review your pricing strategy, make it affordable for a regular donor to come to your higher ticket priced events 10. Partner with another nonprofit to add additional participants for events—Collaborating with another type of charity may bring in additional donors that would not normally think to support the downtown organization.

11. Add a 50/50 raffle to every event (get appropriate license if needed)--Who does not like the opportunity to win cash?  Consider adding this option to every event where it is appropriate.

 12. Add additional fund raising component part to most special events—What about a program book with ads from loyal sponsors?  Alternatively, a small raffle or a preview cocktail party for a fancy event?

13. See if you are eligible for United Way/Combined Federal Campaign, if so, promote #’s aggressively--Some local Main Street programs may be eligible to participate, some not.  However, it never hurts to ask. 

14. Review sponsorship levels, increase some categories this year--Again, when was the last time you raised rates?  If you have not done so lately, consider raising rates as well as offering additional but no cost features.

 15. Go to a yearlong sponsorship solicitation--Offer sponsors the opportunity to spread their advertising with your organization over the entire year. This blog post has a number of examples.

16. Insist on 100% board participation in fundraising--Pick a date by which all board donations are due. Have the Board president follow up with board members who have not made their gift.  Keep regular tabs on how each board member is participating in the many aspects of fundraising.

17. Ask board members to supply names/sign letters/call people from their holiday card list for membership--Some but not all board members may be willing to share their holiday card list or email list to solicit for annual gifts or special projects.

18. Have board members call high-end donors to thank and solicit for new gifts--Most board members will be willing to call and thank people for gifts they have already made.

19. Have board members visit all sponsors to thank and solicit for upgrade sponsorships-This is a job for a board member that has no trouble asking people for money.  Sponsors may be willing to upgrade their sponsorship if they get special benefits.  Have the right person make the pitch.

20. Ask for planned gifts/bequests--Founders and first board members might be willing to include the organization in their will if they are updating their estate plans if someone approaches them in person.

21. Have staff consult with other organizations for a fee--Your staff may have developed quality programs and are often asked for advice.  Seek a small fee if the staff is invited out of town to speak or help a colleague.

22. Offer incentives to staff for better performance (but make this appropriate)

23. Seek joint grants with like organizations—Groups you already collaborate with are the best prospects for these.

24. Ask board members/loyal donors to match any increased or new gifts—This is an effective offer to double donations from individuals or increased gifts to the organization. 25. Seek other challenge grant funds—Board members could pool additional funds to offer a challenge to the community to match their gifts to the organization. A personal appeal to the organization's loyal members, friends, donors or partners is the best way to weather a short financial crisis. Ultimately people give to people because they were asked. How do you raise money in a crisis? Add your thoughts in Comments.