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Ways Nonprofits Can Cut Costs This Winter

By: Maria Werner-- 2015-11-30 8:30 am --

One of the greatest obstacles among nonprofit organizations is striving to cover all overhead costs, while having the capital leftover to supply goods and services to those in need. Throughout the winter season, when vulnerable populations are struggling more than ever to get by, nonprofits experience an increased demand on their services. This makes budgeting more crucial than ever, as every available penny needs to be put to good use. There are some easy ways to reduce overhead expenses, thus freeing up your grant money to help more people.

Go Green

With the cold of winter, most people notice their energy bill spike, as they crank the thermostat in an effort to keep warm. By renovating your building to ensure it’s as energy-efficient as possible, you can drastically decrease your energy bill and lower overhead costs permanently. Start by hiring an energy auditor to examine your facility. They’ll compile a report of the most wasteful aspects of your facility, allowing you to strategize a plan to enhance energy conservation.

Even small renovations, like alternating incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), have the potential to create massive savings. According to Energy Star, a single CFL can save $30 to $80 in energy. Multiply that by the number of lights in your building, and that’s a tremendous cost reduction that requires little time or money to create.

Buy in Bulk

Purchasing your essentials in bulk will allow you to access the lowest available price per item and significantly reduce overhead expenses. From bulk office supplies to food, clothing and fleece blankets, you can access much of what is needed to operate your nonprofit, while reducing your overall spending. Opt for frugality by purchasing generic items rather than name brands. Though typically of similar quality, generic versions are available at cheaper rates.

Recruit Volunteers

While nonprofits often use volunteers for community outreach and general labor, fewer outsource their intellectual work. The Taproot Foundation can connect nonprofits to volunteers who offer expertise in areas such as marketing, accounting, IT help, and consulting, allowing you to reduce the payroll expenses of your nonprofit.

Find Freebies

Many people prefer to donate goods rather than money. On your website, publish a wish list that details the most needed items of your organization, so people can donate based on your immediate needs. Connect with local businesses and schools as well. Oftentimes, when businesses upgrade their furniture or electronics, they’re happy to donate their old possessions to nonprofits. Craigslist also has a free section, which contains an array of furniture, clothing, and toys that could be useful to your organization.

In the nonprofit world, demand often exceeds supply, leaving many nonprofits struggling to scrape by. However, with a bit of frugality and ingenuity, you can drastically reduce overhead spending and make your grant money go further. By opting for energy-efficient lighting and appliances, becoming more reliant on volunteer labor, sourcing free materials as needed, and purchasing your supplies in bulk, you can lower overhead expenses and allocate more of your resources to helping your community.