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You expect a client to call at ten. At 9:58 the phone rings. It’s a member of a local art guild asking you to sponsor an upcoming show. Do you say yes, no, or set a time to learn more? As a business leader, you encounter frequent opportunities to support nonprofits. This article helps you to reply, be ready for your client’s call, and maximize your investment.
1. Good Response: Review the opportunity, and reply, “Yes,” “No,” or “Let’s talk more.”
Your Tool: Criteria
To prepare for future requests, develop a criteria list. Keep it handy. When you receive requests, run down the list and evaluate opportunities against them. One client developed five criterion based on personal goals, business needs, and customer interests. When the telephone calls and pop-in visits came, she reviewed the criteria and replied.
2. Better Response: Ask any callers who meet your criteria to provide a one-page request overview. Review all the responses at the same time. Compare and contrast your opportunities, so you can select the ones that best fit your needs. Then, invest with the best.
Your Tools: Criteria and Comparative Review
The ophthalmologist asks you to compare lenses during your eye exam because our brains work better when focused on choices. To make smart investment decisions, ask for an overview in writing and compare your opportunities.
3. Best response: Periodically review the nonprofits you support and their outcomes. Meet with groups with whom you have an affinity and who provide the most results and satisfaction. Together, explore opportunities to provide new value to you, your customers, and the community.
Your Tool: More With the Best
This tool is meeting with nonprofits to explore new opportunities—either the ones they suggest or new ones. A real estate broker meets with the development staff at a local theater. After her meeting, she buys a season theater sponsorship. The theatre staff attends her next agent meeting. Here, the agents learn details about the upcoming shows. Agents select and buy shows that best match their customer base (thus reducing the broker’s cost.) For each show the agent selects, he or she gets his or her picture in the program, receives tickets to share, becomes special guests at the opening night gala, and is thanked at each performance. Besides welcoming the support, the theatre staff delights in begin able to share their performances with new community members.
Each of these three responses, whether good, better, or best, will help you to improve your philanthropic investments. Every business needs more customers, and working with the right nonprofits will improve your bottom line, please your employees, enhance your brand, and, as brain scientists tell us, give you great satisfaction. Start today by jotting down your criteria to select your nonprofit partners.
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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