Author Archives: Norah McVeigh
January 6, 2012, 6:53 pm
Imagine if critical documents you needed every day just to do your job were stored in another building, one you had to walk to and from, no matter the weather. Imagine hallways so narrow that you had to turn sideways to slide past your co-workers on your way to a meeting. And imagine that that meeting—with a client or a colleague—took place in a room smaller than a closet in many American homes. If you work in or have visited a community health center, you may not have to imagine it. And yet, even under these conditions, a center I visited recently managed to squeeze 29,550 patient visits into its 13 tiny exam rooms in a single year.
Like most nonprofits, they’ve grown used to doing more with less. Their mission commands it. But there’s a growing constellation of organizations committed to furnishing them with enough capital to do more with more.
Owing to its sheer size, …
April 21, 2011, 10:55 am
As elected officials focus on ways to close the deficit, they are making decisions that are likely to make the cash crunch for nonprofits even tighter than they already are.
That’s why many grant makers are looking for new ways to lend organizations money or arrange for new pools of funds that charities can borrow from. If these efforts are successful, they will shift the landscape for nonprofit capital and create new opportunities.
Nonprofits use debt for many purposes: to purchase equipment, buildings, and other assets; to cover money owed by the government; or smooth uneven cash flow from ticket sales or fund-raising events.
Without access to debt, many nonprofits would have to stop paying staff members, eliminate programs, and even close operations. However, while nonprofits rely on debt, in the past two or three years, credit markets have tightened. Some nonprofits that…
January 26, 2011, 6:41 pm
A growing number of nonprofits are starting businesses with the goal of solving social problems or producing revenue for charitable programs—or both.
While every entity is different, certain characteristics distinguish those that achieve their goals from those that either limp along or outright fail. Successful enterprises I’ve seen typically incorporate the following principles into their planning, while those that ignore or play down these essential ingredients do so at their peril.
Hiring experts. Well-run health clinics, schools, theaters, and other nonprofits are usually led by teams with years of relevant experience; social enterprises require the same depth of management expertise. But many nonprofits are reluctant to spend the money that an experienced management team costs, especially because such business veterans sometimes expect salaries similar to what the private …
October 29, 2010, 2:50 pm
When nonprofit groups set prices for their services, they are often encouraged to follow models set by businesses. But is this the best approach for all organizations?
Recent news articles on nonprofits and pricing—and conversations we have here at Nonprofit Finance Fund about our pricing structure—have brought home the point that pricing in the nonprofit world is actually much more nuanced than in the business world.
In a June Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Rafi Mohammed, a consultant who works with businesses on pricing strategies, recently provided some guidance. Mr. Mohammed encouraged nonprofits to base their pricing on the value of the services they provide rather than on what it costs them to provide their services. He also encouraged them to incorporate differential pricing into their strategies — offering lower costs for clients who cannot afford higher…