Tips for reducing overhead (part II)

This is the second half of a two-part blog on reducing overhead. As I mentioned in the first part, these suggestions are not meant to "starve" your organization or keep you from making necessary investments. But they are intended to encourage sound financial management and to suggest an effort to shift resources into program activities for carrying out your mission. We started with the three suggestions. Here are four more.

4. Eliminate inefficient fundraising practices.

That’s you, direct mail acquisition. If the American Cancer Society can do it, so can everyone else. What about special events? Is that gala or golf tourney really raising money -- even when you factor in staff time? If it costs more than it raises, then you’ve got it upside down. (Related to this, make sure you are calculating your own ROI. It’s amazing what other people can do with statistics.)

5. Don’t hire outside help for advice you can get for free.

Fundraising is 95 percent implementation. It’s not complicated. You sit down with a donor and ask for a gift. You send out letters and emails. If you need help developing a fundraising plan or convincing your board to help, take advantage of the free resources on the Foundation Center website. Or these other sites which have good advice.

6. Consider bringing some services in-house.

It’s easy to get in the mode of thinking that others can do it better. It’s also expensive. Don’t be afraid to stuff a few envelopes now and then. It can be surprisingly therapeutic.

7. Just say no most of the time.

You can probably justify spending money on lots of important stuff: a new database, a wealth overlay, maybe even a glossy case statement. But as development staff, our job is to get people to give us money, not the other way around. Keep the money flowing in the right direction.