Staying Afloat



By Ed Nicholson                                         

Times are tough in the nonprofit world.  As someone who sits on Tyson’s national sponsorship & donations committee, and one who serves on the board of a local nonprofit, I’m fully aware of how nonprofit organizations are being squeezed by increasing demand (especially with those providing social services) and ever-decreasing resources. 

Our company, having shown a $112 million loss for Q1 of fiscal ’09, is continuing to support our hunger relief efforts, primarily through the donation of food.  But cash is tight.  Lots of non-profit support is being dropped, simply because the money is not there.

Our best non-profit partners are just that: partners. They understand that wagons are circled everywhere. They’re not walking away when we can’t write a check.  They’re working with us to explore other assets we might be able bring to the table to help them through their tough times, such as expertise in marketing, communications, logistics, engineering, and HR.  They being creative in offering ROI when we do provide resources (whether cash or in-kind).  They’re tightening their own belts.

We have great hope that when this storm is over, we’ll all  be afloat, and the bonds forged in working through tough times together will provide the basis for growing our relationships ever stronger in good times.

What is your non-profit organization doing to differently to remain viable and effective now that times are becoming more challenging?  Comments always welcome.



3 Replies to “Staying Afloat”

  1. Randal Moens

    You hit the nail on the proverbial head.  The partial answer is diversify, diversify, diversify and volume, volume, and volume.  As a centralized kitchen for non-profit, we have been able to survive by being diversified and coninue increasing our volume of meals served.  We provide food services to Headstart, Elderly Nutrition, Adult Day Care, Charter Schools, Summer Food Service Program and catering services to other non-profits and governmental agencies within our County.  The old adage, "don’t put all your eggs in one basket" has definitely paid off for us.  However, I must confess, I still feel a little uncomfortable with the present economic situation and continuously watch our expenses. 

  2. Mike

    Here in Michigan, where the economy is close to, if not the worst in the nation, one of the things we have encountered is the loss of longtime business supporters.  Sponsors that we have always been able to rely on.  So what we have done, to try and help them out, for all their years of support, is still list them as supporters at events.  We felt it was the least we could do.  We have relationships we have built with these businesses, and we want to keep them, and weather this economic storm together. We also want them to know that they are important to us and important to our mission.

  3. Michael Durwin

     As one of the organizers for the Boston arm of Twestival (, I was shocked that so many large companies were not interested in participating n our fundraiser. It’s no surprise that everyone is feeling the crunch right now, I’m unemployed but I still bought raffle tickets and donated my time. The surprising thing was that, no matter how little a donation we asked for, we left it open to cash, matching, raffle prizes, the larger the company, the less interested they were. What was a pleasant surprise was how many small, local companies jumped on board. Whether cash donations or raffle items like t-shirts, books, software, flash drives, etc., they were all amazingly generous. Enough that we only fell about $150 short of our goal. Imagine what one or two raffle prizes or minimal cash donations might have meant to the cause.

    Twestival is unique in that it’s all volunteer based and all Twitter users. That means that any donations, were heavily thanked in all manner of social media. Good, cheap online PR!

Comments are closed.