Commercialisation and not-for-profits

  • This article outlines key considerations for organisations considering taking on commercial activities.
  • With a changed operating and funding environment, a growing number of not-for-profits are looking for alternative ways to generate income and enable the continued provision of services.
  • Not-for-profits operating in these sectors are needing to focus on a more retail model of service provision, with strong marketing and a service-driven culture.

Checklist of goal, plan and action

Continuous cycles of reform, change and challenge look set to be the new norm for not-for-profit organisations which are increasingly expected to deliver on their purposes amid a background of uncertainty. Government policy, economic conditions, the changing nature of giving and public opinion regarding social issues and engagement all have an impact on the availability and reliability of revenue streams for not-for-profits. All of these things are beyond the direct control of not-for-profits. However, each one (and many others) have the ability to significantly impact, whether positively or negatively, the operations and existence of not-for-profits.

In order to better manage these uncertainties, not-for-profits should seek to reduce reliance on factors outside their control and focus on the development of resilient and adaptable models upon which the long-term achievement of each not-for-profit’s purposes can be based. This should include review of traditional funding sources and exploration of new sources of funding (both internal and external) that will allow greater stability.

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