Local Revenue & Sustainability
Partners Worldwide seeks to build up and walk alongside permanent, resilient, long-term local institutions. This is our mission and the purpose behind our LCI Excellence Rubric. As we all know, local revenue is a critical ingredient to local sustainability, and locally sustainable institutions are the absolute key to ending poverty.
First of, let’s be clear on definitions: when we talk about sustainability in this paper, we are talking about financial and institutional sustainability. Our desire is to walk alongside LCIs that can and will perpetuate their own existence for the long haul without dependency on funding or support from external sources. We recognize this can be a long journey and many of our LCIs are at step one. (Other LCIs are 100% funded locally, and yet we recognize they too are on a journey toward local flourishing and local resilience.) Our dream is to build into the capacity of our LCIs so that they are permanent fixtures in their communities and are able to weather storms -- economic recessions, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, political turmoil, civil war, etc -- and still stand strong and serve the poor.
Generating local revenue can happen in a variety of ways. Here are a few practices that have been successful throughout the PW network:
Local fundraising: We believe that all people are stewards of the resources God has entrusted to them, and no one is too poor to give, just as no one is too rich to receive. We echo the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 6: “Command those who are rich in this present world to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” See our 1-pager at the bottom of this document for more tips on fundraising and grants.
Income-generating programs: Build programs into the regular operations of your LCI that induce reliable and significant revenue. Interest from loans is a common example; fees for training workshops or seminars is another. There are countless opportunities. Be willing to brainstorm, test out prototypes, and take chances.
Membership dues: Many LCIs have a membership-based structure and charge dues to their members to be involved. This is a reliable way to secure revenue for your LCI and also create a perceived value in being a member of the LCI. Membership-based LCIs that do not charge regular fees of their members run the risk of not being perceived as valuable in the eyes of the members themselves.
Entrepreneurial efforts: Our global network is composed of creative, resolute, unstoppable problem-solvers known as entrepreneurs. Many of you LCI leaders are entrepreneurs yourselves. We believe that through your innovation and adaptation, you can discover and implement market-based solutions to provide revenue in order to fuel your LCI. The possibilities are endless: it could be a greenhouse, a preschool, a consulting company, video editing services, or any other idea you have!
“Visions begin with individuals, but they endure with institutions.”
– Doug Seebeck
Just getting started?
- Here are some proven fundraising ideas from the PW network: Top Fundraising Strategies
- PW’s grant expert, Roxanne DeGraaf, provides her Top 12 Tips on Foundations and Grants in a 2-page overview
- We Are Stewards: A 1-page Biblical overview of Christian stewardship, written by PW
- Recommended reading on the topic of breaking dependency and local sustainability:
- When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert
- Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton, and the sequel, Charity Detox
- From Aid to Trade, authored by Jackie Klamer and Daniel Jean-Louis, both leaders within the PW global network
- Watch the outstanding documentary Poverty Inc. to learn more about the broken system of international aid
- Nonprofit magazine blueavocado.org has a terrific article entitled Deconstructing Sustainability
Want to go deeper?
- This article, Financial Sustainability: The New Frontier, outlines five key components of financial sustainability. They are community engagement, dependency awareness and analysis, financial oversight by the Board, timely and effective financial reporting (see our 2-pager on financial reporting), and programmatic rigor. It’s a great article, highly recommended.
- More in-depth recommended reading: Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability
Please email email@example.com if you have any questions.