Nonprofit Revenue Capacity – Some Assembly Required


“Some assembly required.” These words (along with the 800-piece bookshelf assembly instructions that contain them) have long tested patience, relationships, and resulted in many a late night.

Just me? No … I didn’t think so.

Trust me, I don’t take it lightly when I use these words with nonprofit leaders as we discuss revenue capacity-building in their organizations.

When nonprofit leaders come to us to address their revenue challenges, I tell them they need the same four things that everyone needs to build most anything:

  1. An image of the finished product:I can’t build it if I haven’t visualized the final product, and you can’t either. To build revenue capacity, your leadership team needs to be aligned about what it will look like when it’s complete. Together, you have to decide where your revenue will come from before you can begin building towards that.
  2. A step-by-step plan:  You have got to have a plan—along with a set of steps you and your team will take together. Every project is easier with a detailed instruction guide. Too often, leaders start piecing a revenue house together before they’ve taken the time to collaborate on a plan. Or worse, they assign the project to someone else with no context and no guide (I am willing to bet most seasoned fundraisers and sales folks have lived through that one).
  3. The right parts, tools, and skills:  You must ensure your team has the right tools and skills to complete the job. Usually, I admire the scrappiness of the nonprofit sector—moving mountains with small shovels and grit. But that tendency works against us when it comes to building revenue capacity. Anyone who has been in the sector very long knows that sometimes we have the right people and skillsets, but don’t give them the parts or tools they need to build. Other times, we have all the parts, but no “know-how” on the team to get it done.  It’s rare when it all comes together. Underinvestment in the effective execution of the plan—whether it is in program, operations, or revenue—cripples impact.
  4. The time and space to get it done: Your team must consciously dedicate the time and space to make this happen. This means, your leadership team needs time together (and preferably away from the office) to define the finished product, develop a plan, and ensure the right resources are allocated to it. It also means the people tasked with executing the plan must be free to dedicate the time to it. I also think revenue needs to take up a different kind of “space” in most organizations. If revenue capacity is always an afterthought and rarely makes the agenda in strategic conversations, it will never fuel the mission the way it should.  You can make space for revenue by creating a culture where revenue generation is valued and celebrated throughout the organization.

I am not going to lie to you. None of that is easy. 

This what we do in RevJen’s Fuel Series Workshops.  We give you the time and space and guide your leadership team in addressing their most pressing revenue challenges to build a stronger revenue infrastructure. We:

  • align your leadership teamaround revenue generation with a common language and framework.
  • meet you where you are, ask the hard questions, and guide you in unearthing the root causes of your revenue challenges and the areas that need improvement.
  • shift the way you think about revenueand the structure of your organization – and provide you with specific, actionable tactics to create transformational change and sustained growth.
  • guide your experience, allowing you to hear from other leaders and gain insight that enables each of you make better decisions, avoid pitfalls, and create solid plans for the future.

I have seen the explosion of impact that can occur when a solid revenue infrastructure is in place. Since participating in the Fuel Series, David Flink, Founder and CEO of Eye to Eye, says his “organization has transformed its revenue model, and we are now set to double in size and triple our impact, sustainably!”  This is why I get excited about the Fuel Series Workshop.

Eight months ago, the only way to participate in our Fuel Series was to join us in Dallas and New York. But now, RevJen’s Fuel Series is available to leadership teams across the country—virtually.

I would love for you to join us and start building!  To learn more, visit here or, contact us at