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How to you bill nonprofits/unfunded startup and other "low-income" clients?

My business partner, a lawyer, and I have a business that advises mostly mission driven companies and new nonprofits during their pre-startup and startup phases (by "pre startup" I mean that sometimes we are literally helping a project decide whether to become a business or a nonprofit). Most of our clients are applying for grants to even come into existence or relying on future sales of goods for cash flow. And most of the businesses we are working with are small: local food companies, yoga studios, etc... - not big tech companies awaiting their million dollar investor.

We are thinking of creative payment plans for these clients, including deferred payments (once a grant or investor comes through), sliding scale, etc.... But we haven't come up with anything other than those two ideas. I am wondering if anyone out there has other creative ideas for keeping some level of cash flow when most of your clients don't have much cash. I know there are companies out there that work with farmers and community orgs... wondering how they might handle this?

3 Replies

Sidney Sclar
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Sidney Sclar Entrepreneur
SID the SECURITY PRO at sidthesecuritypro.com
Check out cvc-mc.org. Sid has been involved with this group for over 15 years.
Elese Coit, MSP
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Elese Coit, MSP Advisor
✭Project Specialist✭ Project and Program Management Expert | Developing the People Side of Projects to Get Results
You can trade some of your work for referrals and recommendations.I couldn't find your website so I don't know what you have there, but you can add these to your Linked In profile to start with.

Are these charity barters just one aspect of an otherwise sustainable financial footing for your company? If yes, and your company is financially solid and able to afford to give away services, perhaps you could share how you did that and help your clients get to financial viability sooner rather than later.

Lastly, you might consider a one-to-many approach. That is, you can make videos or create online webinars that deliver your services to several clients at once. That way everyone gets used to paying something, and you start to monetize your valuable expertise in an affordable, repeatable, (not necessarily completely free) way.
Mary Couzin
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Mary Couzin Entrepreneur
CEO/Founder, Chicago Toy & Game Group: ChiTAG Fair, TAGIE Awards, playCHIC FashionShow, Media Preview, I-SPI & T&GCon
We give non-profits free space at our events and ask that in return they publicize that they will be participating in our events on social media, their home page, newsletter, etc. Sometimes we give them a 50% coupon to share with their membership.

We have found that if you just give them space, they sometimes don't turn up because they have no skin in the game. They need to do something in return to have buy in.

For startups, we have a posted special rate that is only good for their first year participating.
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