Cost Savings...Where To Start?

Over the next few months we will be bringing you a series of articles with some practical advise both on how to save money, and to ensure that every pound that you receive is utilised with the utmost effectiveness.

In recent months the economic news seems to have affected the charity and not for profit sector particularly badly. At Mark Freeman & Associates we are only too aware that the challenges of a recession are making it increasingly difficult for our clients to raise money, whilst at the same time trying to contain increasing costs.

Our first article addresses where to start looking for savings within your organisation. It is easy to assume that charities are always very conscious about expenditure, but do you regularly look closely at your expenditure to ensure that it is really the best way of providing a service or the most cost effective way of spending money?

We have worked with clients over a number of years to significantly reduce direct and indirect costs in the following ways:

Payment by Direct Debit

This method of payment has proved repeatedly to be one of the most cost effective means of receiving donations and membership, whilst also enhancing control of the income stream. Typical savings from processing are in the region of 20% to 30%. Knowing which of your donors are regular givers is an added bonus!

It is also well worth paying utility bills by direct debit. Your supplier will normally offer a discount or indeed may not charge for this means of payment, while many suppliers still make a charge for payment by cheque.

Utility Charges

As energy prices continue to grow at over 14% per annum, and with increases set to continue, it is really worth shopping around for better deals on contracts for water, gas, electricity and telecommunications.

Consider the following:

    Install a Smart Meter to monitor energy usage, and act on the recommendations to improve efficiency and
       cut costs.

    Ensure staff are trained to turn off all computers and office machines overnight. This can save up to 60% of
       the cost of leaving them in standby or sleep mode.

    Talk to your suppliers about what they can do to reduce your costs, and compare this with other providers of
       the same service (remember to compare like for like!)

Stationery and Print

There are always savings to be made in this area, and there are some very competitive deals to be had. Talk to colleagues in other organisations, and look at online offers for standard and high volume items. Don't forget to check delivery costs too.


If you are leasing your copier, examine the lease cost and your annual print volume - you may be surprised at how high the per-page rate is. Use this knowlege to compare prices with other suppliers, or even the local copy shop.

Travel and Meeting Costs

Travel and meetings incur costs in fares, meeting rooms and employee time. Find out whether your phone system allows conference, video or skype calls - we have recently made adopted this faciltiy and it has changed the way in which we do things, as well as reducing costs in a number of areas. Some providers offer charities a cheaper price than BT or other telecommunication suppliers.

Other Costs

Be open with managers and staff about wanting to save money on expenditure - not by cutting corners but by ensuring that money is spent in the most efficient way. It is surprising when we have asked clients and staff why they spend as they do. Most answer "that's the way we have always done it". When asked how they might go about saving money, they usually come up with very good ideas that can be implemented immediately. Make your employees aware of their expenditure and what you require them to save - offer incentives, and reward good practice!


If you are an organisation with annual turnover less than £500,000 and none of your funders require an audit then you should consider an independent examination - Mark Freeman & Associates can provide the focus of an audit at a fraction of the cost.


These are just some of the ways in which you can make a real impact on your costs, effect a real reduction and make a real contribution to the effectiveness of your charitable activities.

Mark Freeman CA (Canada) MIFS