Is your nonprofit association offering enough (or the right) programs to keep members active and engaged? New programs require time, effort and money that may also have certain tax implications. To get the biggest bang for your buck, know these key strategies to offer compelling programming while keeping your tax status in mind.
“The non-profit leadership team should make sure that the new program is in line with the association’s overall mission,” states Bob Hart, Principal in Assurance and Accounting at LGA. “That way, the non-profit doesn’t generate an unexpected tax on ‘unrelated business income, or, worse-case scenario, jeopardize the association’s tax-exempt status.” Here are 10 simple do’s and don’ts:
1. DO consult your members. Through focus groups, surveys and informal conversations, gather information about issues your membership is facing. Note gaps between your current program offerings and members’ wants and needs.
2. DON’T support foregone conclusions. Spinning member feedback to match what you think your organization needs is a big mistake.
3. DO target specific outcomes. Identify the expected results of proposed programs and attach to them strategic, realistic and timely goals.
4. DON’T lose focus. Consider only program ideas that will directly contribute to your association’s mission, vision and overall goals.
5. DO protect your creation. If your new program is unique, protect it with appropriate trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and patents.
6. DON’T go it alone. Whenever possible, share expenses and resources by partnering with other organizations. Alliances can lend depth, breadth, and impact of programs.
7. DO keep your promises. Deliver new programs on time and on target for the greatest impact.
8. DON’T overspend. Come up with a reasonable budget and stick to it. Adjust only when necessary.
9. DO start small. Launch new programs slowly and thoughtfully — and then build on initial success.
10. DON’T worry about perfection. Take chances and try new strategies. The best ideas often are those most different from what you’ve done in the past.
For more tips on making the most of your association’s budget, please email Bob Hart at email@example.com.