In the fast paced world of fundraising software, we focus a lot of time telling nonprofits to use DonorPerfect to raise more money. But between you and me, there’s another way. Shhhh! Don’t tell my boss I told you this, but raising money is only half the equation. The other half is saving money. Here is the secret formula: raise more money – spend less money = more money for your mission.
How do I know this? Because I used to be unemployed. Yes, during this magical time of fear, self-doubt and endless chocolate chip cookies, I discovered a magic potion to make me feel better: daytime television. Shows on during the workday are like therapy. The game shows show you how to win easy money, the soap operas show you how sexy, fake people have sexy, fake problems, and there are thousands of hours of self-help programs.
On one of these programs – Ricky Lake or Oprah or Phil Donahue (ok, I just dated myself), was dedicated to people who had low incomes their whole lives, yet they amassed vast wealth! How? It’s simple: they were cheap BLEEPs! Excuse me, the politically correct term is “frugal”. They were frugal BLEEPs! They searched for bargains, they spent only when they had to, and then only on necessities. Now that doesn’t sound like a fun-filled life, and one look at them and you’d believe it, but I’m not telling you to do that for yourself (I’m drinking a latte and typing this on a new laptop, and I’m very happy and/or very caffeinated), but you can be careful about spending your nonprofit’s money on frivolous things. Careful thought and consideration of every donated or granted penny can save you dough that could be applied to your mission. (Please don’t feel guilty about everything – keeping the office warm in the winter is not like blowing donations on a trip to Maui).
There was one older lady who took it a step further. She was a school librarian, who was not only frugal, but she was a saver/wise investor. I’m paraphrasing now because this was a long time ago and my memory is…ah…I forget. Any who, she said something about how you don’t need to earn a lot if you don’t spend that much money. Then the money you don’t spend accumulates, and if you invest it wisely, you can amass a lot of money over your life. Nice! She made it sound so simple, but there was no way I could do it to her extent (see caffeine addiction above). But what I decided was I’d try to do it the best I could, and even if it’s a small amount I save and invest, rather than spend, it’s better than nothing.
How can you apply these half-remembered words of wisdom to your nonprofit? Well, unless you’re a huge university, you probably don’t have a major endowment with financial advisers investing your money in Google IPOs. But you can save money, and then invest in ways that make you more money.
These investments don’t have to be in stocks, bonds, or slot machines. Recently, I created a print advertisement (yes, I’m in marketing – don’t hate me) that tries to show how DonorPerfect integrates with various online tools like friend-to-friend fundraising (let others raise money for you), online donations, online shops, etc. I tried to show how the integration means your donors enter the data for you, and the data goes right into DonorPerfect (or any database, but I’m partial to the folks who got me out of my parents’ basement) for automatic tracking and acknowledgements, while the dough goes right into your bank account. So with a little investment, you can acquire tools that help you raise more money, save you time, reduce your workload, save you money and provide more money for your mission! Not too shabby! Somewhere in the world there is a frugal, wealthy, and wise older lady smiling and toasting me with a glass of tap water.