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A problem for non-profit organizations of all sizes, is sustaining donation growth and coming up with new fundraising ideas. Negative changes are easy to spot, “Our donations are down!”, but without looking closely it is difficult to understand why and where the negative change is and to address it directly. To successfully address the negativity you also have to implement strategies to turn the problem around. To come up with new fundraising ideas

The Toyota Production System (TPS) developed a model called the ‘Seven Wastes’, and this can also apply to any fundraising organization. From the list below think of three areas in your non-profit that this waste could apply to. Then place a value that it realistically or probably costs your non-profit. Then you should rate the problems as severe, complicated and manageable.

Severe expensive wastes should be addressed immediately either internally or with outside assistance. Most severe wastes will probably be expensive and if you fix them will also have a big positive impact.

Complicated problems usually involve multiple people that would be needed to solve them. You should address these at team meetings by explaining how much money you believe, and you’ll need to justify it to get buy in, the problem is costing your non-profit. Then ask for help in solving the problem.
Manageable problems are those that probably won’t get fixed in the near future but should be highlighted within your organization so people are aware to try and avoid them if possible. Maybe other people in your organization can address these issues with a simple change of process.
What are the seven wastes?

1. Overproduction – obvious examples of overproduction are producing campaigns with no guarantee of sale and over-servicing customers that represent little long-term value to your non-profit, but what about less obvious issues such as over-staffing, or excess paperwork.

2. Waiting – are their sticking points in your organisation? The answer is usually ‘everywhere’. We give the example of the time it takes from getting a job to the time payment lands in your bank account. How many minutes of those hundreds of thousands were you adding value to that process? You will find it’s usually all waste. Some examples could be – making donations difficult, not contacting a donor in the way they would have responded fastest i.e. emailing a phone person or phoning an emailer, not answering a donor’s question directly.

3. Inappropriate processing – there are usually many examples of the wrong or outdated machine or person for the job. A lack of trust in delegation to lack of documented systems causes delays and waste. Staff contacting donors that are never going to close should also be avoided.

4. Transport – in the non-profit world we are talking about the transport of information, it could also movement of people, and the supply of goods to your beneficiaries. For example, bad data being shared, or even the number of inter-office meetings held versus web conferences.

5. Unnecessary motion – old fashioned time and motion still does apply. Do they need to be in the office? How much time is spent on developing data models to address future campaigns? Was that meeting necessary, could an email or call have saved time. Instead of the email would the phone call have been better to that person?

6. Inventory – inventory could be in the form of work in progress, donations received but not spent on beneficiaries or even leaving money on the table when negotiating.

7. Defects – 99% of the time this is always the cause of the most waste. The reason it is the biggest source of waste is that people are uncomfortable admitting mistakes and so try and solve problems themselves. Wasting time is a major defect in most organizations but by helping staff to recognize new ways of using time you will reduce waste. If you make your culture open to errors and promote the admission of errors then discussing problems you will cut waste hugely, increase morale and a lot of excellent ideas will be exchanged which will also address the other six wastes.

After reading this article you should be able to come up with 21 (at least) different wastes and then pick three to address this month. Within a year you should have solved a lot of these problems. There will always be more because donor needs change and you must react to it.

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