In 2007 the nation went into the beginning of a recession that in monetary loses was worse than The Great Depreciation. A group that suffered much worse financially than any other group in the United States of America was the non-profit charitable organizations. That was becase this group relied for its income from donations much more than any other group of organizations. The loss of spendable income by the citizens of the country, and the loose of returns from the financial markets, in general were devastating to the nation’s non-profit organizations.
At the time I had just gone to work for a non-profit organization that ran two museums and had just lost its executive staff. A look at the books revealed they not only had a stagnet growth in membership, reduced and more competition for grants, losing, or reduced income from events, and no income from philanthropic efforts. Daily I was getting horror stories from the trade magazines and newspapers of non-profit organizations closing their doors, laying off staff, loosing membership and major drops in all donations.
This was not new to me, my first venture as staff in a nonprofit organization was with one that had had a stagnant membership for years, and in the recent year had had such poor management that they had to lay off all staff, and were running the organization with volunteers. It was also during a serious recession.
While in the first case I was able over a 10 year period of time able to increase the membership in numbers from 199 to over 1300. Grants grew from $3,000 to over $45,000.00. Activities and other income grew from $12,000 to over $80,000.00. The membership income grew from $26,000 to over $275,000.00. In addition the volunteers went from 24 (the board of directors) to over 250. We had money making events, high attendance at activities and meetings, positive relation with all of the media, local government and the community as a whole. The recession did end about 4 years into this growth period.
The second organization while enjoying a membership growth of $10,000 to over $40,000 in one year, did not fair so well. However, we did stop the bleeding, increase the PR and make some great program strides. Unfortunately, they were so…