Podcast show notes written by Alexandra Black-Paulick. Thank you Alex!

Can nonprofits make money?

You’d be surprised at how many people adamantly believe that under no circumstances can nonprofits earn revenue. The reality is that the term “nonprofit” has nothing to do with whether an organization can make a profit and everything to do with what they do with that profit. In the instance of a nonprofit, they cannot distribute profits to shareholders like a for-profit company. Instead, the revenue stays within the organization to be used to achieve the nonprofit’s mission.

In truth, there are a lot of different rules and regulations around income. The most important one is whether the income is “related” or “unrelated” to their mission.  NOLO dives deeper into the potential tax implications on that here.

But diving into the tax code isn’t what today’s episode is about.

In today’s show, I connect with Alexandra Black-Paulick from Positive Impact Media and co-creator of Nonprofits for the Future on ways that nonprofits are generating revenue. We not only break down some of the ways you can discover opportunities in your organization but we also go through two separate case studies.

Between grants gaining competition and donors starting to disappear after the economic crash of 2008, nonprofits across the nation started funneling their efforts into earned income solutions that aligned with their mission. Below, you’ll find a brief synopsis of the two case studies we talk about in the episode as well as tips to help you discover opportunities in your organization.

Our goal with this episode is to help you come up with ideas that align with your mission and opportunities that are viable to implement in your organization.


Resources Mentioned in the Show

Method for Discovering Opportunities in Your Organization

On the episode, Alexandra highlights the strategy that she walks organizations through in her upcoming course. It’s really important to use your mission as a metric throughout this process so you develop a related income stream and don’t pull resources away from your main goals.

Start with an organizational asset list to find things of value in your organization. This could include everything from curriculum to technology to communities advocating on your behalf. Then you need to look at different needs in the communities you serve or groups near to your cause.

Case Study One: Denver Food Rescue + Fresh Food Connect

 The Denver Food Rescue realized that they had a valuable technology asset with their software running Fresh Food Connect. Additionally, they realized other hubs or organizations running a similar food program would benefit from it.

This led them to license the app. They charge a nominal annual fee, which then covers all the required maintenance costs.

In the episode, we dive in deeper to how you can use a similar thought pattern to make sure the endeavors you’re doing add to your mission. Some of the suggestions both Alex and I recommend to expand could fall into mission creep, which we talk about ways to avoid.

Case Study Two: Bikes Together

Bikes Together needed a way to sustain their incredibly generous bike giveaway programs, which has given away over 6,000 bikes to date. They also had a complete bicycle workshop and ample volunteers ready and willing to work on bikes.

This led them to start refurbishing bikes to sell.

Tune in to hear how we talk about another really innovative way they built in value to create memberships, and how members love it!

How to Move Your Mission Forward with Earned Income Solutions

If you want a structured approach and a step by step roadmap to develop earned income solutions for your organization, then check out Alex’s new course: Roadmap to New Funding Sources.

This four-week course walks you through everything from exploring different business models, discovering opportunities within your organization, how to vet ideas, and mission-driven marketing strategies to take it to market. To ensure that every organization going through the class comes away with tangible ideas to implement, she and her co-creator are hosting office hours twice a week.

You can check out all the details here.

Hurry though – this course closes on January 30th.

Enter the Giveaway!

If you listened until the end of the episode, you know that we’re giving away one FREE course for Nonprofits for the Future: Roadmap to New Funding Sources.  To enter, you need to comment on the show notes. To really make this powerful, we’d love to hear what you think about earned income for nonprofits, different takeaways you want to apply to your organization, or potential earned income solutions you want to implement.

Comment by January 28th to enter.


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  1. Chris 2 years ago

    Great podcast! I was so bummed when I realized it was an older one and I was too late to enter for the free Course. LOL! I do work for a non-profit, but am interested in learning more about creating funding sources for the one I volunteer for (and any future organizations I may volunteer for). Thanks for the great ideas. Please let me know if the free downloadable is still available. I couldn’t find it on Alexandra’s site.

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