You’re Not Alone! Common Mistakes that Spoil Great Business-Nonprofit Partnerships
In July, I led a sponsor panel for the St. Petersburg Regional Art Summit. Panelist included staff from Bank of America, Duke Energy, and AARP. Each panelist shared the ins and outs of their programs. As we wrapped up, Ann Shaler, Senior Vice President at Bank of America commented how much the panelists, despite their unique organizations, shared in common.
What was common, you ask? They’re frustrations for one. Read on to learn about three of them plus my insights on why they happen.
The panelist justifiably complained about receiving proposals for activities that the sponsor had previously stated they didn’t allow, want, or couldn’t fund. If you’ve experienced this, at best, you’re a victim of wishful thinking. The nonprofit hopes that you’ll be so charmed by them or their ideas, that you’ll change your mind, even if you can’t. Poor listening and over-scheduling also contribute.
2. No Free Lunch
The panelists all received more opportunities than they have resources to fund. So nonprofits seeking meal requests were unwelcome, not from lack of sociability or interest, but because of time management. Why do nonprofits push for lunch? It fits their preference for donor wooing which often involves a long, slow relationship building rather than succinct business transactions.
3. Sorry, “My Team” Can’t Build It
Each panelist worked in an office alone or with one other. The panelists found proposals that include business staff orchestrating elaborate events unrealistic and vexing. From inexperienced nonprofits viewpoints, companies look like cargo ships of resources. They imagine these resources are easy to direct, tap, and collect.
The panelist’s frustrations reflect nonprofit desires to work with businesses on sponsorship and a poor understanding of business infrastructure, needs, and priorities. Knowing about common hurdles help you to design your sponsorship process to avoid these frustrations and to generate a greater return on your investments.
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