earned income

Ask a Nonprofit Specialist: Should we charge fees for our services?

posted by
Anne Byrne,
ASU Lodestar Center

Question: We provide our services free to our program participants, but we are feeling the strain of limited resources. Some have suggested we charge a fee for our services, but I am reluctant to go down this road. What should we consider about charging fees for our services? Will we be required to pay taxes on fees collected?

The traditional charity model is based on the expectation that organizations raise funds from institutions and individuals in order to provide services to those in need, primarily free of charge. Charitable giving continues to flourish in this country; according to the Giving USA report, charitable giving totaled $298 billion in 2011,with 73% of funds donated by individuals. Americans continue to be very generous, but unfortunately, the demand for services outstrips our ability to fund services with charitable gifts alone.