Spent a good chunk of the last 2 months with a cultural charity that needs to drive its own revenues.

It’s been an amazing journey. One that requires the identification of core competencies, key products, core audiences and most importantly, working what customers will pay for.

There are many challenges on this journey, least of all, the impact on organisational culture.

How do you keep the spirit of the charity’s raison d’etre whilst making money?

I know this isn’t a new question. Traditional charities like Oxfam, Save the Children, Guide Dogs do this all the time. Often you see tradings arms kept at arms length from the charity’s core work.

There are other charities in the arts, like theatres that drive the majority of revenues from customers by selling tickets.

What happens if you were 100% funded one day and then had to find, say, 50% of your revenue from commercial activities?

Work out your value propositions, build business plans, hire a commercial person or two etc. Seems straight-forward enough. On the journey to quasi-commercial, can you avoid carrying the commercial weight on your back?

Or is it a back-pain, that charities just choose to wear?

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