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Maximizing Community Impact: The Role of Assets in Revenue Diversification

June 24, 2024

The State of the Sector reports continue to show the crisis happening within our sector. Grants will always be critical to organizations. However, there is a need for revenue diversification because being dependent on grants or any streams of income that do not cover the entire cost of programs and operations or can be removed based on someone else’s decision or the political will of the moment makes your organization vulnerable.

Think about grants or contracts—when these resources come in, they go out almost immediately. It’s a constant cycle of one hour in, one hour out, with funds being allocated as quickly as they are received. This rapid turnover means that very few resources remain within your organization to support ongoing operations, staff development, or address emerging community needs. 

The pressure to constantly secure new grants and contracts can make it challenging to invest in long-term sustainability and growth, leaving little room for strategic planning or capacity building. Consequently, while these resources are crucial for immediate project funding, they often fall short in providing the financial stability needed to adapt to evolving challenges and seize new opportunities.

On the other hand, when you invest in building assets, those assets grow to the point where they can generate income that your organization can control so you can direct it to where it will have the most benefit, from supporting capacity to achieving long-term financial strength.

Most commonly, we consider assets as those listed on our balance sheets, but many important assets you have within your organization are not likely to appear there. When we take a wider lens of ‘what is an asset,’ we realize our organization has valuable assets we can use. It means we must view assets as something that holds not just economic value. An asset can hold social, cultural, natural, and community value alongside future economic benefit. When we take this wider lens, your organization has a larger set of assets available to generate the resources you need to create community impact and sustainability. 

This shift from reliance on traditional revenue sources, such as grants, to earned income can significantly enhance your organization’s financial stability and reduce vulnerability. It also enables your organization to play a key role in building the local economy and influencing how and where money flows as it directs the flow of resources to organizations that are doing the most critical work in society.

Developing your assets significantly benefits the community in many ways, such as enhancing service delivery to expanding impact-focused programs and services. You can begin to reach more people and address a broader range of needs in the areas you serve. 

Assets such as social purpose real estate generate revenue that is reinvested into the community, fostering sustainable development and growth. This revenue supports the creation of better facilities, providing spaces for community gatherings, educational programs, and essential services. Additionally, it aids in job creation by offering employment opportunities within these facilities and through related projects. 

And the funds are directed towards skill development programs, empowering individuals with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive. By investing in these areas, social purpose real estate helps build vibrant, resilient communities and addresses some of today’s most significant challenges, including food security, unemployment, and social inequality.

If you are interested in figuring out how your organization identifies its existing assets, how to go from underperforming to performing assets, what the sweet spot is when, and how to combine assets in partnerships, know that you can be supported to do this. Join the movement of non-profits and charities across Canada that are tired of existing on a shoestring budget and are shifting their organizations to financial sustainability. Visit Thriving Non-Profits to learn more about this transformational learning opportunity.

Applications are open now for the Thriving Non-Profits fall 2024 Cohort program. It is a 5-month facilitated learning program that will transform your organization with new approaches to grow your programs, support your team, and increase your impact in the community. Learn more and apply here.

You can also drive change by participating in our self-paced program, which is designed for individual learners. Get more information and access here. Use code TRANSFORMATION at checkout for a special discount offered to CCEDNet members. 

Keep up with innovative resources and programs for the non-profit sector by signing up for the Thriving Non-Profits newsletter and follow Thriving Non-Profits on social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram  

Kristi Rivait

Co-founder and Director, Partnerships and Programs, Scale Collaborative, and co-founder of Thriving Non-Profits. Scale Collaborative envisions a thriving, connected, and abundant social change sector, and through its Thriving Non-Profits program, platform, and community, works with hundreds of non-profits and charities to transform through capacity-strengthening revenue diversification towards greater impact.

She brings 20+ years of leadership experience in the non-profit sector, including 10+ years as an Executive Director. Kristi is an expert at operational transformation, change management, and diversifying revenue.