From the April newsletter, The Link (between Non and For-Profits)
Discovering Nonprofits With Whom To Invest
Did you know that nonprofit partners can improve your bottom line? Finding them is akin to a college search. Only now instead of 4,500 choices, you have 1.5 million. Most businesses find it overwhelming. But by subtracting what won’t work with the three questions below, you’ll be ready to focus on a manageable handful.
Question One: Who provides what you value?
You care about many issues. The first rough cut leaves you with nonprofits with missions that reflect your values.
To find where to place your chisel, answer: What three things do you value the most? What kinds of causes would reflect all three? Now consider business outcomes. What causes help prepare people to become your customers? Same question, only focus on your employees. Overall, what causes support the business results you seek?
Your answers will identify nonprofit missions that reflect your values—under 5 percent of all nonprofits. While you’ll eliminate many fine organizations, your reward will be finding those that provide optimal returns.
Question Two: Who has a similar reach?
Geographically, in what range do you provide products or services? What range do you project in five years? Good partners share similar reach. Keep nonprofits that serve your area. Eliminate the other 4.9 percent of all nonprofits. Free PR in California provides you no value if you don’t operate west of the Mississippi.
Question Three: Who offers potential star power?
You plan an investment of .5 percent of your earnings. Seek nonprofits where this investment represents an important opportunity or the Goldilocks’ solution. A too big investment makes you a god and too small sticks you in a crowd. Eliminate both. Based on your anticipated investment, select nonprofits where your investment will provide you star power. The nonprofit’s budget provides a rough first estimate.
If you know nonprofits well, the questions will leave you with a handful to explore. If you’ve limited knowledge about the field, you’re ready to ask for help identifying nonprofits with shared values, similar geographic reach and places where you can be a star.
Beyond the One and Only
In high school, my sons experienced the traditional angst about college choices. Both selected small schools they adored, but in truth any of the colleges on their short-lists represented excellent choices. Likewise, as you identify partners, you’ll want to focus on excellent partnership possibilities, not perfection.
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