If I had a nickel for every time an organization told me that they *really* want to grow, but they have no budget to invest in doing so…well, I’d have an awful lot of nickels.

I get it. I totally do. I’ve supported the start-up of several nonprofit organizations from scratch and I totally understand what it means to bootstrap and not have unlimited coffers of coin.

But here’s the thing…creating change ALWAYS requires an investment. You will invest money or you will invest time, but you will definitely invest. In fact, most of the time, the pace of change is directly impacted by the size of that investment.

A timely example of this is what you’re seeing right now in elections. For a candidate who needs to influence voter choice, they can invest financially in powerful high-volume advertising or they can invest in the time of supporters who rally in mass around the candidate.

What happens to a candidate who says I *really* want to hold office, but then they don’t invest in either of these things?  They probably won’t be holding that office when the election comes around.

Still, I see organizations doing this all the time. They say they want something different, but they continue to do the same exact things – or they invest so minimally in what they say they want that they simply can’t gain any momentum around it.

Growth requires us to step up to a bigger call to action – to make a plan for what we want, and then make the kind of investment that is required for change to happen.

Of course, it would be unfair of me to minimize the requirement of cash flow, but there is a big difference between wishing, hoping, and dreaming about having the money your organization needs, and taking action to find it.

Here are 3 ways to approach “finding” money to invest in growth:

  • Prune what’s not working.
    Most organizations have some things that are done out of tradition or simply because we think it’s what they ought to be doing, but when examined closely, aren’t really paying off (or could be done more efficiently). 
  • Split the cost.
Perhaps there are current expenses that are essential but could potentially be split with other organizations? You could even consider sharing the cost of new consulting with another organization. You may not have to incur the entirety of the expense if you think creatively. 

    For example, instead of hiring a facilitator to do strategic planning just for your Board, ask the consultant about including other local organizations and splitting the cost. As long as the workload isn’t increased substantially for the consultant, they will likely be happy to work something out with you.

  • Create new revenue sources.
The internet has created amazing opportunities for new revenue generation because you can now offer products that are printed/created “on-demand” instead of your organization needing to invest up-front in product development, printing, etc. 

    Café Press is one great example. Create an awesome new theme for apparel, greeting cards, computer mice pads, etc. In just a day, you could have a whole store of items that generate the funds that you need to invest into growth.

I hope my thoughts today spark some new ideas for you. I know that it can be frustrating to feel like you’re struggling with a tight budget, but failing to make an investment at all is a sure-fire way to find yourself in the exact same place next year as you are today.

Hit reply and share your thoughts.  I always enjoy hearing from you.

If you’d like to catch the Crowdcast that I did recently on this topic, you can go here.

Have a great rest of your week!

How I Can Support Your Growth Right Now:

  • Let’s revisit your PLAN for the year. How’s progress going?  Where are you falling behind?  Where are things going better than you anticipated?
  • Let’s look at FUNDING opportunities. Are there non-dues revenue sources you could be leveraging?  When was the last time you looked at strategic alliances or directed sponsorships?
  • Let’s look at GROWTH supports. Do you have ideas that you can’t implement because you don’t have the right people or structures?  Are you having a hard time staying focused long enough to make traction?

These are all areas where my team and I *excel.*  We’re here to support you.  You can get a call on my calendar here!


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.