Use nonprofit discounts to shift funds to your mission
By Tom Peterson
When you get to be my age you can buy your movie ticket for less because the theatres would rather have an oldster than an empty seat. Or maybe they’re just nice. Either way, I save money doing something I would have done anyway.
Now imagine that your nonprofit is being offered that senior discount by the very companies to whom you are already paying full price for tickets. Do you ever ship packages? Do you buy computers, printer ink, paper? Do you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey, QuickBooks or Microsoft Word? Or shop at Best Buy, Amazon, Staples? Do your supporters wear t-shirts that extend your brand, advocate your cause?
If you do any of these and work with a nonprofit or cause-focused organization, you can be saving money starting with your next purchase. Get that cheaper movie ticket!
And then shift the freed-up money directly to your program.
Nonprofit Rate: Making the hidden visible
NonProfit Rate is a website that has curated discounts on hundreds of products and services for organizations that do good. Its founder, Mike Matchett, is a friend. For many years he led Heifer International’s marketing efforts with amazing results. From the moment I met him, I’ve watched his passion for improving the world inevitably turn to helping organizations use the smartest tools and practices.
So I wasn’t surprised when he began exploring what many would consider boring: purchasing. How were nonprofits to find the many, often hidden, discounts that so many companies offered? Unable to find a comprehensive, trustworthy resource that helped nonprofits to find the offerings of so many suppliers, Mike decided to create one place that would make it easy. That led to his creating nonprofitrate.com.
“As a nonprofit manager I learned it was hard to find out which companies offered special rates and services because sometimes they weren’t widely publicized,” says Mike. “Or more often, you had to spend a lot of time searching to find it. That seemed to be a waste of time. The more we can help professionals do things that are mission critical rather than calling around for deals the more we can effect change.”
Free money for nonprofits
It’s worth visiting the site to check for companies you are currently working with. “Some discounts are available only if you ask,” says Matchett. “You could be doing business with a company for years but didn’t know to ask; in that case we’re simply letting you know to ask.” Getting a discount on what we already spend is one of those things hidden in plain view. But once you’ve signed up for the nonprofit rate—it may take 10 minutes—you typically don’t think about it again. But you will then save money year after year.
How much? It’s really all over the board. In some cases, the “savings” actually means absolutely free—some products are simply given away to registered nonprofits. The site links you to “Google Grants” so your group can apply for up to $10,000 of in-kind AdWords advertising every month. Some discounts are in the 10-15 percent range. And some are 50 percent, so deep they’re like trading in your gas guzzler for a hybrid.
When you add up the discounts on office supplies, janitorial supplies or food for a school program, you may be surprised on how much you can save. A 20 percent discount on $100,000 you’re already spending saves $20,000. And you save the cost of raising that $20,000.
Again, all of that money can shift directly into your programs.
And many of these companies extend the discounts to the nonprofit’s employees. As an employee of Heifer I also got (and still have) a 15 percent discount with AT&T. It took only a few minutes to sign up but over time these small price cuts add up. I calculate that in 15 years I’ve personally saved about $9,000.
Be a hero
If you’re a board member, mention the nonprofit rate site to your organization’s leadership (they love to be told what to do!). And if you’re a nonprofit leader, you can point out to your board and donors how smart you are when you saved 20 percent on your new copier.
Be a hero! Save your nonprofit a big chunk of change and make a bigger impact!