Nonprofit Matters - Dr. B.J. Bischoff


Online discount shopping ideas for nonprofits

As we begin another year, many nonprofit leaders are looking at their 2013 budgets and wondering what they can do to reduce operational costs that seem to be increasing each year. Fortunately, there are many online resources available that provide discounted and no-cost options for the goods and services that nonprofits need, such as computers, software, graphic design services, email marketing, office furniture, office supplies and more.

There are some great technology-related discounts available through TechSoup (techsoup.org). Through TechSoup, nonprofits can access more than 450 technology products and services from more than 50 donor partners including Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Intuit, and Symantec. Through TechSoup, a nonprofit can purchase Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 for $32, as opposed to paying $325 to $395 retail. Quick Books Premier Editions for Windows 2012 is available through TechSoup for $45, as opposed to $250 to $280 at retail.

Many nonprofits use email marketing software to communicate with their constituents. Lauren Parkhill, with Slow Food Sonoma Valley, reported that Slow Food “signed up for Vertical Response’s email marketing (verticalresponse.com) for nonprofits, which allows us to communicate with our members for free.” Another free technology resource used by over 16,000 nonprofits to manage their donations, grants, and program records is through SalesForce Customer Relationship Management and cloud computing (salesforcefoundation.org).

In addition, many manufacturers make hardware and software available to nonprofits for free or at a discount. Companies such as Microsoft, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, and Packard Bell all have active charitable donation programs through their corporate giving or public relations departments.

A great resource for discounts from a variety of retailers is U.S. Communities (uscommunities.org). As a U.S. Communities member, nonprofits can save 40 to 70 percent on Herman Miller office furniture, 67 percent on Ricoh/Savin/Lanier copiers, and 86 percent onoffice products through Independent Stationers, plus others. Grassroots.org provides nonprofits with free web hosting, web design, website building, graphic design, foreign language translation, and search engine optimization, among other services. Good360 (Good360.org) charges an administrative fee for shipping and handling to provide nonprofits with a wide a range of products donated by several national retailers, including Walmart, H&M, 3M, Bed Bath & Beyond, and others. Examples of products available through Good360 are bedding, personal care items, clothing, toys, and office supplies. The National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (Naeir.org) provides new items donated by companies such as Microsoft, Rubbermaid, 3M, and American Greetings. Depending on what they have at any given time in their warehouse, nonprofits can get office equipment and supplies, appliances, computer software, books, sporting goods, furniture, toys, clothing and more. There is an annual fee of $375 to $575, but the $575 fee, for example, guarantees that the nonprofit will receive an average of $12,000 worth of donated goods during the year. In addition, one of the best-known local sources available for free products and services is Craig’s List’s bartering section (sfbay.craigslist.org/bar).

Nonprofit leaders can make their budgets stretch just a bit further by investing some time in exploring the myriad deep discounts available online. Plus, it never hurts to negotiate with any retailer, regardless of if it’s online or just down the street.

Dr. B.J. Bischoff is the owner of Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, a Sonoma firm specializing in building the capacity of nonprofit organizations through strategic planning, fund development consulting, and grant proposal writing. She is President of Impact100 Sonoma and leads the Sonoma Valley Presidents Council. She serves on the Sonoma Upstream Investments Portfolio Review Committee as an appointee of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Contact her at bjbischoff@bjbischoff.com.

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