Any client I’ve ever worked with could testify to the fact that I often ‘bang on’ about diversification of income streams. Trying to ensure that your income comes from a number of sources – preferably a mixture of earned income – from commissions or training that you offer, philanthropic income, sponsorship and perhaps statutory funding. Within that, I’m also keen to encourage that organisations diversify their philanthropic income to include a mixture of Lottery, trusts, individuals, corporate giving – and perhaps EU and third sector grant funding. The more you can diversify your income, the greater protection your organisation has if and when one of your income streams dries up or reduces. It’s basically common sense and the old ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ theory but it’s easy to see how an organisation, particularly with the limited resources that many charities have, can focus on the one source of income that works for them to the detriment of other funding – until it’s too late.
So try to broaden the net and move outside your comfort zone or away from the obvious or usual suspects when researching potential supporters for a new venture. Is there an element that could be self funding or could generate income for your organisation? Or similarly, is there an aspect that you simply cannot deliver without the support of the Lottery or trusts but which will add considerable value to what you are trying to do. Try to look at your project from all angles – not just the tried and tested perspective. What do other organisations do that you could adopt? Look beyond your own niche area to organisations that you admire – or envy! And involve others in the organisation in helping to assess the potential for your products and services.
It’s also an adage that I’ve taken over into my business life – working with a range of organisations from across a number of sectors and offering a variety of different services – from fundraising to strategic planning; mentoring to staff training & development. Everything from arts organisations to social enterprises, international aid agencies to local charities – and if I’m honest, that suits me just fine as it gives me the opportunity to work with an interesting range of very different organisations, while helping me to diversify my income sources too.