The Center for
Creative Community

bluebar.gif (128 bytes)


 bluebar.gif (128 bytes)

@ -- permission for use-with-acknowledgment

Earning Your Own Way - A Decision Check List

The Benefit Brigade

Cause-Related Advertising

Friends Group

Organization Leasing

bluebar.gif (128 bytes) .

Earning Your Own Way – A Decision Checklist
March 1987

(I see cause-related advertising as one form of earned revenue)

To help you choose the optimum earned revenue enterprise or event for your organization. Or else to help evaluate your current earned revenue enterprises(s).

A.  First, brainstorm the longest possible list of plausible possibilities (If this is to be a new enterprise).

B.  Then, Consider the following criteria in deciding which enterprise to choose:

  1. Is it legal? Don’t laugh. You could be unpleasantly surprised on things like raffles, gambling, especially without appropriate licenses.
  2. Is it ethical? Even assuming it’s completely legal, are your members, volunteers, staff comfortable about the ethics and values involved in it? If not, why?
  3. Is it consistent with your organizations mission and purposes? Or at least not seriously inconsistent. But preferably it should contribute positively and significantly to the achievement of your purposes. Being neutral to purpose is acceptable but not desirable.
  4. Will it endanger your organization’s tax exempt status? As starters, points 1 and 3 above must be in place. Then, it’s helpful if volunteers and donations have a major role in the enterprise.
  5. Does it build on what you already have? It is solidly based on current experience, expertise, services of staff, volunteers, members, or are you venturing on unexplored (for you) terrain? Does it use to the best advantage, facilities equipment, materials, friends, reputation, and even traffic flow you already have?
  6. (Related to 5) Is the front end and continuing investment reasonable in relation to expected return? Here we’re talking about money and time needed for start-up and to keep it going.
  7. Is it "new" or at least "relatively unique?" Or is it likely to be competitive with too many other enterprises already operated by other non-profits or commercial for-profits. Ten thrift shops are too many in a town of 10,000.

  The Benefit Brigade – Tithing for Creative Community

(Time Tithing is direct conversion of volunteer time into money for you. Like an entertainer doing a benefit performance except it can be any kind of work and you don’t have to set it up.

Variations include:

If you are interested in considering the possibility of being on the Benefit Brigade, please send us a resume and a paragraph or two on what you’d like to do and under what conditions. We’ll continue discussion for that point.


An Outline of Some Major Points on Cause-Related Advertising or Co-Promotion
November 1986

In a boycott you tell your friends and supporters not to patronize a certain business because you don’t like what they are doing or have done. In a girlcott you urge your friends and supporters to make a special effort to patronize a business because you do like them. The reason you like them is because they are giving your group a share of their business proceeds. Our constituency becomes their customers.


  1. Converts a resource you already have – your friends, supporters, clients, etc. – into money.
  2. Does this with relative ease, little drain, once the system is properly set up. You’ll be asking a relatively small thing of a lot of people rather than a large thing of just a few people – probably the same old worn-out fundraising folks.
  3. The process is mutually advantageous for the charitable group and the business, rather than one more case of begging on your part.

Basic Steps

  1. Translate whatever may sound abstract and intellectual in what you do to the emotional language of "heart tugs." Instead of just saying "We pursue affordable, appropriate housing options for elderly low-income people," by all means say that, but add by way of introduction something like this: "in many elderly households, fresh vegetables or social activities are sacrificed to pay the rent. Dental and eye care lose out to property taxes," etc.
  2. Choose possible target businesses according to some ten or twelve criteria, outlined elsewhere.
  3. Establish a list of your friends/supporters/clients who might be willing to patronize the targeted business. These are people who you think would be willing to give their trade to Business X rather Business Y, if they knew Business X was giving a "commission" or something like it to our charitable organization. Assumption is that both are about equally good businesses with not much difference in convenience for your constituency-as-customers.
  4. Select the best for you among several different methods of implementing a Girlcott, or co-promotion program.

Establish your own "Friends Group"

Establish your own "Friends of -----" group a la hospital auxiliary. Their sole function is fundraising for you being careful there is overall harmony in philosophy with you and policy accountability to you. Friends groups are distinct from advisory or policy boards.

The concept is well known historically, often as ‘auxiliaries’ in hospitals and in cultural groups such as the symphony.

In my view, the ideal situation would be a group which:

The kinds of fundraising done would usually be called "community fundraising" events or donation campaigns, often among members. However, the fundraising is usually not like the four previously described in this section.

In any case, there is hardly anything original in this idea except this possibility. Instead of waiting to inherit a friends or auxiliary group (with all the baggage that might come with it), the host organization creates its own group which ideally, then, continues on its own under the ideal conditions described above, or as close to them as possible. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has done this with a number of its park sites.

Feasible Fundraising -- Organization Leasing

Introduction, Background

The idea is to rent what the organization already has but does not need or use fully. Specifically it is understood that the rental will not constitute a drain on the organization or in any other way inhibit its ability to offer its services.

  1. Use of your organizations non-profit or other corporate status by another organization. Someone needing non-profit status for their grant or other receipt of funds, and not having this status, uses yours with permission and provides you with overhead or administrative percentages, for that privilege – may also "rent" or use some of your staff or facilities/equipment as part of the deal (see elsewhere here). You (your board) must of course be very sure the renting organization is fully credible and their project fully compatible with the mission and purposes of your organization. Example: an individual or unincorporated group has good prospects of getting a grant to develop a mentoring program for children but needs a non-profit status. You are a Big Brothers and Sisters Program.
  2. Rental of not fully used facilities and equipment. For example, you might have recreational facilities, meeting room(s), a training room(s) which are not fully used and can be rented out to credible and compatible organizations, when you don’t have need of these facilities. Care must be taken insure against physical damage and liability in the use of your facilities (see, for example, the policies school systems often have in regard to the use of their facilities by community groups, outside of school hours). At least one organization I know of had enough money deliberately to put a down payment on a building considerably larger than they needed and rent the unused space to compatible groups. You might also rent not fully used equipment such as a copier, fax, computer or even a phone line, where it is clearly understood your organization has first priority time-wise and otherwise on this equipment. The rents must comfortably cover your costs and depreciation plus a reasonable "profit" for you. And again, there must be protection for you against mis-use and damage by the renter.

  4. "Renting:" your people, e.g. a non-profit whose mission was to weather proof the homes of low income seniors, made some extra money by also charging market rates to weatherproof homes for middle income people, when their staff was not occupied in their primary mission. Or an RSVP had a corps of volunteers willing to perform routine tasks such as getting out mailings, and have their pay for this go to support RSVP.

Whether paid staff or volunteer, you must only take care that "hiring out" your people in this way does not diminish the efforts they can give to the main mission and primary tasks of the organization.

Note that "renting" staff and volunteers has great similarity to Time Tithing, discussed elsewhere in this section. A main difference is that here, the organization rather than the individual decides on what tasks are done in return for the pay which goes to the organization.


ivanbar.gif (136 bytes)

Post Your Response

Read Other Responses

ivanbar.gif (136 bytes)

Return to the Main Table of Contents

Ivan Scheier
607 Marr
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, 87901
Tel (505) 894-1340

For comments and editing suggestions please contact Mary Lou McNatt