Achieving Business Goals Through For-Profit – Nonprofit Partnering
Listen to Episode 7:
Episode 7 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio. Episode 7: Achieving Business Goals through For-Profit, Non-Profit Partnering.
This episode is brought to you Business Advancement Inc., enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. Now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thank, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Inc. Right over there is my partner and husband, Scott Harper.
Scott Harper: Hey, Pam. It’s great to be here today. It’s nice and sunny outside. The purpose of Growth Igniters Radio is to spark new insights, inspiration and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to their next level of success.
You know Pam, it’s been really exciting to see all of the positive responses that we’ve been getting to our first four episodes.
Pam Harper: I know, it is exciting, and we want to thank all of you who are listening, for listening, and also to remind you to rate the episodes on iTunes.
Scott Harper: Yeah. This really helps us find out what people like − what they want to hear more of. You can also submit questions to us on each episode page on www.growthignitersradio.com, so we can do more of what is meaningful to you.
So Pam, what’s up for today?
Pam Harper: Today we’re going to be talking more about achieving business goals through for-profit, non-profit partnering. You know that many companies we work with, as well as we, are very committed to all kinds of charitable causes.
Scott Harper: Yes.
Pam Harper: What we’ve been learning is that there are new and innovative types of relationships between for-profit businesses and non-profits, and that there are emerging opportunities in this that can benefit everyone involved.
Scott Harper: That’s right.
Pam Harper: That’s right. We are so fortunate to have as our guest Karen Eber Davis, a leading authority on income growth strategies for non-profits. Karen is president of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, and author of the book “7 Non-Profit Income Streams: Open the Floodgates to Sustainability!” Her passion is to help non-profit leaders fulfill their goals and create extraordinary impact.
Welcome, Karen! We’re so glad that you could join us.
Karen Eber Davis: It’s wonderful to be here.
Pam Harper: Karen, so many of us are in the habit of supporting charitable organizations and other non-profits through contributions or sponsorships. We all know it does a lot of good, but you’re talking about taking this whole for-profit / non-profit partnering to an even higher level, which is exciting. I mean, this is innovative…
Scott Harper: Something different.
Pam Harper: It is. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Karen Eber Davis: Sure. Imagine you’re at your desk − you’re very busy − and the phone rings and you think, “Gosh! Don’t answer that,” but you do, and it’s your good friend, Joe. You cut it short, but you have this great moment of connection with Joe, before Joe asks you to come with him to visit a non-profit. You say yes, but your stomach kind of goes, “Eeeww! I normally give something I want to give back, how much should I give, and does this really do anything? Does it really help the people I’ve helped? Does it help my business?” It comes down to that.
Pam Harper: That’s right.
Karen Eber Davis: Imagine instead you have this feeling of like, “Oh cool. I want to go see this non-profit because I want to see if it can [help me] reach my business goals. I have some things in mind that I’ve been thinking about, and this group is a real possibility”
Scott Harper: That sounds cool, but how does that work?
Karen Eber Davis: Let me give you a specific example. There was in the community where I am, an organization − I live in Florida so there’s a lot of bugs − who like many groups, did pest control. Big organization − one of the leading pest control companies. They had some philanthropic passions, and they were funding a group outside of town related to the co-founder’s passion − childhood interests. Working with them, we created a great differential. We helped them to take and support the same or similar cause − helping youth to get ready, get a leg-upping, get started on a good place in life − instead of far away, inside the community where they wanted to serve.
This became a great price differentiator for them, meaning that people were no longer comparing so much on price. They began to say, “Oh yeah. You’re the guys who support our kids.” Therefore, they became known, and it helped them gets an identity.
Scott Harper: It’s a point of differentiation. We all know how important differentiating is.
Karen Eber Davis: Can well be in that case, yes.
Scott Harper: Yeah. Cool.
Pam Harper: Can you tell us a little more about how that would work? You started to do that. It sounds like marketing is a big deal [in this kind of partnering].
Karen Eber Davis: Marketing is a real key. There are some other areas though, that work [too]. We know from the studies that are out there that most successful large corporations have very active philanthropic programs. We don’t know whether that makes them bigger or whether they’re bigger because it’s coincidental. [Whether], it’s causal or not.
Scott Harper: Or they’re philanthropic simply because they’re big, and they have money, and they make a good impression.
Karen Eber Davis: Right.
Pam Harper: What about the smaller companies, too? I mean, I know a number of smaller companies, us included, that have that same philanthropic bent, we want to contribute. Can it do the same things for a smaller company?
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely. The models we see and most people talk about are large companies. What’s possible [for large companies] is also possible for the small company. Part of the key thing [for all companies] is not reactivity, but proactivity. “What do I really want to achieve and how could it be done?”
Scott Harper: To be strategic about that, and build the relationship into your strategic objectives.
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely. In fact, the best place to start is about “what does the business want to achieve.”
Scott Harper: OK. Tell us more.
Karen Eber Davis: Can I give another story?
Scott Harper: Go ahead − please.
Karen Eber Davis: Another example: Imagine you want to reach young women. If you can reach young women, they will become your customers for life. You have a consumer product and it’s going to be used up and They’re going to need to repurchase it once, twice a year. How would you reach them?
Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant decided to work with cyber bullying, but their key motivator was saying “how can we reach young women?” They designed a campaign called “Mean Stinks.” It’s so clever-
Pam Harper: “Mean Stinks?”
Karen Eber Davis: “Mean Stinks.”
Pam Harper: OK…
Karen Eber Davis: It’s so clever, because it ties in deodorant use with mean and stinking.
Scott Harper: Uh-huh… right…
Karen Eber Davis: They have young women on Facebook and all over doing different things with a quote about Mean Stinks, showing their pinky and saying that. They partnered with a non-profit about cyber bullying. So, the benefits become: customers, potentially for life, great current PR for the company, and really for the non-profit, this huge boost and getting the concept of their mission out.
Pam Harper: That makes sense. It’s a great win for everybody. Now, could you do this [in other ways], aside from marketing − how else could you fit the non-profit partnering in with your strategic goals?
Karen Eber Davis: Certainly. Another strong area: this is used for employee retention and employee gathering.
Pam Harper: Tell us some more about that.
Karen Eber Davis: Imagine you would like to have employees come to you who have STEM skills, a common thing. You might do as some companies do: strategically work with a local university to offer scholarships for STEM students. Part of that process might be that as part of your partnership, to go in and provide some lecture materials, so people − young students, become familiar with what you’re doing and at least know about your company.
We’ve got some data out there; the Committee on Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy found that 71% of millennials would choose a job with a company with a commitment to the community, if all other factors are equal. This is another differentiator when people are coming to be interviewed and look at you as a serious place to come work. They’re going to want to know more about your corporate activities.
Pam Harper: That makes a lot of sense.
Scott Harper: You mentioned millennials; I’ve read that millennials as a group in general appear to be maybe a little more idealistic. Do you find that? Is that what you understand as well?
Karen Eber Davis: What I’m seeing in the field − and I’ve been doing this over 20 years − is a lot more accountability and results-orientated conversation. What used to be “I’ll write you a check because I know you’re doing good work,” is now much more [of a] relationship, engagement, which are the outcomes-based.
Scott Harper: OK. That’s great.
Pam Harper: OK. I think we’ve really highlighted a number of areas where for-profits and non-profits can work together, can begin to work together, but we’re just scratching the surface here.
We’re going to need to take a quick break, and when we come back, we’ll talk more with Karen Eber Davis about how innovative partnering with non-profits can enhance a for-profit company’s business goals. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Inc. − enabling successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and growth. If you subscribe to the Growth Igniters Community by going to www.growthignitersradio.com and clicking the “Join Our Community” button up in the upper right corner, we can send you weekly updates with the direct link to each episode page; this one would be episode 7, so you can easily access all of the extra resources and show notes, and get even more value from each episode.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio, with Pam Harper, that’s me, and Scott Harper. We’re talking with Karen Eber Davis about how taking a new approach to partnering between for-profits and non-profits can build even more value for both sides.
Karen, how can people get in touch with you?
Karen Eber Davis: I’m @kareneberdavis and it’s www.kedconsult.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pam Harper: That’s wonderful. That’s very helpful. Let’s continue our conversation. In the last segment, you were talking about some really interesting ways that for-profits and non-profits can achieve their strategic business goals with innovative partnering arrangement.
Scott Harper: … Beyond just philanthropy and giving.
Pam Harper: That’s right. Yet we know that a lot of companies − a lot of people who are in companies who are listening − do sponsor [nonprofits already]. It seems like what we’re hearing you say, though, is that partnering between for-profits and non-profits is evolving. What’s new about the approach that you’re describing now?
Karen Eber Davis: Sponsorship and working with non-profits is relatively new, surprisingly. In terms of business history…
Pam Harper: Really?
Karen Eber Davis: The real breakthrough − and there’ve been several before − was a story with American Express. People go back to that, so that was the beginning. It was in 1980s with the Statue of Liberty, if you recall, and they did some renovation, and American Express began to work with a non-profit doing that. They, if you recall − or maybe not if you weren’t around then − offered people who used American Express that if they used their American Express card, that [American Express] would provide money for the Lady Liberty [project] for each transaction for four months.
Pam Harper: I do remember that.
Scott Harper: Yeah, right.
Karen Eber Davis: They also offered a dollar for everyone getting a new card. That was like the eye-opening experience for the world and the community that these kinds of interesting, positive, “make new things happen” [partnerships] were possible. From that, they raised, I believe it was 1.75 million for the cause, which is small potatoes today, but at that point was pretty big money. They also had a significant increase in the amount of transactions and lots and lots of new people getting an American Express card.
Pam Harper: It’s interesting that it’s not as long-lived as I would have thought. Yet one of the things I am hearing… I was speaking with a group of non-profit organizations recently, and I was hearing for the first time for me at least, a lot of references to “partnering” with their sponsors. We’re talking about a partnering relationship. It wasn’t strictly sponsoring. Is that something that’s new, then?
Karen Eber Davis: Yes. That level of exploring what partnerships could mean is really where I see the most potential income growth for non-profits. It’s a new area because what a partnership does is create something that wasn’t there before for the community.
Scott Harper: Yes.
Karen Eber Davis: Two separate entities combine, and they do something that’s new, and they create that innovation piece that you guys so love.
Scott Harper: Right.
Karen Eber Davis: Sponsorship to me is [traditionally] a non-profit sitting around their table who says, “We want to do this activity. How can we engage business as other people take part of it?” And so they create sponsorship packages and then they super-sell those. They can be customized, but they’re often designed to be mass marketed, even for small groups with that kind of approach. [Contrast that to] a partnership, which is each of you sitting down together and saying, “What could we do that’s never been done before?”
Now, I’ll give you an example. More recent − 2005 − Federal Express contacts the National Christmas Tree Association and they say, “We’d like to do something for our troops. Would you help us out?” Then several weeks later they began the program that becomes “Trees for the Troops.” Imagine you’re Federal Express − it’s almost holiday time and you would like to bump your business up. You work with the local tree growers who are in charge of doing the local press releases and providing free trees and you say, “OK. We’re going to do pick-up of trees for Afghanistan the first week of December. We’ll be there with our truck. We’ll give you free transportation for the trees. We’ll give you some free labor to help load the trees. Can you go ahead and get this word out?”
The Christmas tree grower in upper Michigan calls the local press, then you know December 5th, they’re looking for a Christmas story and here on this national media [with] stories that go viral are pictures of trees being loaded by troops, and people in fatigues, and troops and people helping, and FedEx trucks in the background. This not only helps FedEx, who has a marvelous Christmas, and it also helps the Christmas trees growers, and it helps the association because their member are excited about this process, as well as it helps people, it helps the troops. There’s a heart-warming experience part of this story.
Scott Harper: You’re dealing with something that’s really novel, that stands out against all the noise and that’s much more than just “we donate money to the troops for Christmas dinner” or something like that. That is innovation. That’s very cool.
Karen Eber Davis: The difference, I think, between just giving money and seeing your money have a true impact in multiple ways.
Pam Harper: That’s true. I think that the other thing that I’m struck by again and again as you’re talking is the importance of everybody’s strategic goals being met in all of this. It can’t be just one-sided, so the non-profit is not saying, “OK. We’re selling something,” that suits their strategy in one sense, but it’s more like “how can we work together, how can we create something that’s bigger than any of us could do alone?”
Scott Harper: Sounds like it’s a co-creation. It’s a true collaboration that creates new value that wasn’t there before. In our definition, that’s innovation.
Pam Harper: Karen, maybe you can talk a little more about some of the ways [smaller companies can do this?] … I mean you’ve been talking about very large companies; some of the people who are going to be listening are more in the middle market or even entrepreneurial. What kinds of things could they be doing then if they don’t have this huge budget or way of partnering? Are there opportunities for them too? For us, I guess.
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely. I will add − back to the Christmas tree − no money exchanged hands there, so that was an idea that had no [direct] financial contribution, that had impact in-kind gifts, but there was no cash transfer though.
Yes, and here’s another story. In fact, there’s two stories from the local theater group here. It’s not a small theater − it’s well established.
There is a car dealership here called Wilde Lexus. On Wednesdays, which is low theater attendance day, they’ve created, or had created at one point Wilde Lexus Wednesdays. At that day, at the theater, when you came in to the foyer, there was a Lexus car, the newest one of course. Also, they provided champagne. It became, again, a market differentiator. They had a chance to talk and be with their market. Everyone got to see the car and sit at it, and those kinds of experiences. That’s one way. That’s looking for “this where is there already space, how can I help the theater increase their attendance on low attendance Wednesday, but also make it ours.”
Pam Harper: OK. It sounds like, again, it’s looking for what are the needs, and how can we think more expansively about different ways that we can reach out to different types of organizations in this case.
Scott Harper: In harmony, creating and meeting an unmet need.
Karen Eber Davis: That’s a great word, Scott. Harmony.
Pam Harper: Harmony.
Scott Harper: Harmony.
Karen Eber Davis: It has to be authentic.
Scott Harper: Yes.
Pam Harper: That’s a good place for us to take a quick break right now. When we come back, we’ll talk more with Karen Eber Davis about three increasingly effective ways that you can start putting partnering with non-profits to directly contribute to advancing your specific business objectives. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Inc. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. If you like what you’re hearing, don’t keep us a secret. Go to www.growthignitersradio.com, click on episode 7, and use the Share links for iTunes, Stitcher, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever social media you use. Tell your social media communities all about us using #growthigniters. Be sure to subscribe to the Growth Igniters Radio podcast series on iTunes and Stitcher, so you won’t miss a single episode.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. We’re talking with Karen Eber Davis about new ways for for-profit companies to partner with non-profits to advance their specific objectives. Karen, how can people find you and how can they find out about your book?
Karen Eber Davis: Thanks, Pam. I’m at email@example.com or www.kedconsult.com, and my book’s on Amazon, as well as other major book sellers. It’s called “7 Non-Profit Income Streams: Open the Floodgates to Sustainability!”
Pam Harper: It’s a huge resource for anybody who is thinking about this.
Now, in the last two segments, we’ve been talking about a different way of thinking about non-profit and for-profit partnering, and how it’s a win for everybody involved, and you’ve given us tremendous stories. Let’s look at some specific ways that people who are listening could jump on some of these opportunities that are out there as soon as they’re done listening to the program.
Karen Eber Davis: Great. One thing I would suggest people do is to get proactive. By that I mean to begin to think about what the criteria are that they want to use to impact their philanthropic giving.
Pam Harper: What would be an example of that?
Karen Eber Davis: “Which business goal would I like to work on?” would be one.
Pam Harper: OK. Whether it’s external-focused marketing or whether it’s employee retention, for example, or whether it’s both, I suppose.
Scott Harper: Or engagement, yes.
Pam Harper: Right.
Scott Harper: What I hear Karen saying is this is now strategic. It’s not just “let’s be good guys.” Let’s be strategic and figure out how we can create that win-win that builds value for both.
Pam Harper: OK.
Scott Harper: Is that what I’m hearing, Karen?
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely. I would even start with the dangerous potentially, really life-changing question of, “is there something that keeps me from having more business?” What is that? Is there a non-profit that either short-term or long-term could positively change that, remove the block?
Pam Harper: That’s a really good point. Of course, there are a lot of us who really don’t know but a fraction of all the non-profits that are out there. I’m sure you have advice on that, too.
Karen Eber Davis: Yeah. Do you have any idea how many non-profits there are in North America?
Pam Harper: No.
Scott Harper: Thousands and thousands, I assume.
Pam Harper: Millions-
Karen Eber Davis: 1.7 million…
Scott Harper: Wow!
Pam Harper: 1.7 million non-profits…
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely.
Scott Harper: Yet, we only can think of a few off the top of our head. How do you find out about them?
Karen Eber Davis: I would do several things. You decide on some of your criteria; you could look through who you funded and see who meets those and begin to work on some partnership possibilities with them, or you can do some research. You can go to several sites we can put on the [Resources] links below; the community foundations where you are often will have a list of local non-profits that may fit. One of the challenges, and one of the criteria that I recommend is fit. You might want to add, “OK. I want to work with groups who my employees will love and will help me keep my employees and my employees care about X. I want to work with groups who save the same region I serve.
For instance, it doesn’t really help you if someone’s a national group but your marker is in New Jersey and begin to do that. At some point, too, even though there’s this huge millions of non-profits, there’s only probably 20 to 30 that might interest you.
Pam Harper: 20 to 30 is a lot, but I guess if you’re sorting through, it’s going to become clear as you go through that sort of 20 to 30, which ones are going to be best for you, right?
Karen Eber Davis: Right. And some you’re going to look at on paper and say they look really good on paper, but I don’t see them doing any activities.
Pam Harper: You have to do your homework.
Karen Eber Davis: You have to do your homework.
Scott Harper: And lay out criteria, is what I hear you saying.
Karen Eber Davis: Right. You can get advice from people like community foundations, consultants, of course. Many people, not necessarily, out on the street, but inside the non-profit community can give you some advice on possibilities.
Pam Harper: OK. All right. Let’s see. We’re still at step one, right?
Scott Harper: Yeah. Step one, be strategic.
Karen Eber Davis: OK.
Scott Harper: What else?
Karen Eber Davis: Ideally, you have this list either on your desk or somewhere easy to access so when you get those phone calls and get those requests through emails, saying, “Would you please sponsor us?” You kind of automatically say, maybe, yes, no. That’s step one.
Step two would be to ask people asking you for funding for a one-page overview of the opportunity. Not too long for you to read, not too long for them to put together, and ask them how you might partner besides what they’re asking for.
Scott Harper: OK.
Pam Harper: They have to be willing to think outside the box as much as we are, right?
Scott Harper: That’s the proactivity.
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely.
Pam Harper: Yes. That would be a criteria.
Karen Eber Davis: Yeah. Right. That would be, unless you just find somebody who’s just so perfect and they’ve already gotten sponsorship that really works for you, you probably going to be doing some individual creation to customize what’s going on.
Pam Harper: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. What happens from there?
Karen Eber Davis: Ideally, you get a pile of these, and you can review them against each other.
Pam Harper: You’re reviewing them against each other − what happens from there?
Karen Eber Davis: That’s the point, too. You might decide to go ahead and fund some of them, and see what the relationship is like.
The next step would be, presumably you’re in this business and have done some sponsorships and done some activities − you have your criteria list, you look at who you’ve funded, begin to pick out one or two to have another conversation with; and to say is there something here that we could do together, what might that be; and to let that begin to bubble up. As an individual, I am very attracted to your cause. As a business owner, I see that it could help me to meet some goals. How would I help meet your goals? Where are you stuck? Do I have resources that you might need that wouldn’t cost me much but yet I’d be happy to share?
Pam Harper: OK. It really sounds like to do this, and to do it right, you have to do some of the things that we talk about with regard to alliances of any sort, which is you have to build an idea − also − of trust, in addition to the strategic goals. There has to be trust built and there has to be some framework for how you’re going to work together and that’s what you’re describing. Am I right?
Karen Eber Davis: Correct.
Pam Harper: Yes.
Scott Harper: Although you’re partnering with a non-profit, it’s really very similar to any business relationship and…
Pam Harper: Especially the business alliances.
Scott Harper: That’s right.
Pam Harper: You treat it as an alliance instead of just some sponsorship. It’s a different way of thinking, Karen, and you have brought it to life for us, and we’ve spoken with you many times. This is an exciting frontier. It sounds like it’s a frontier right now. We hope you will come back and tell us more about some of the new things that are happening in this area.
Scott Harper: We can drill down a bit more.
Karen Eber Davis: Absolutely. I look forward to it.
Pam Harper: Any last thoughts you’d like to leave with us as we’re winding up here?
Karen Eber Davis: Certainly. If listeners want to review a little bit of what I’ve said about the options, there is a newsletter link we’ll put [in “Resources”] on the bottom. I have an article in my newsletter. The newsletter is called “The Link” between non- and for-profits. The article is Good, Better, Best Ways to Invest with Non-Profits. I would encourage listeners to especially make a criteria list.
Scott Harper: That’s great. We’ll put a link to that in our Resources section on the Episode page. Karen, thank you so much.
Pam Harper: Yes, thank you.
Join us next Wednesday for a new episode of Growth Igniters Radio featuring conversations with leaders who are changing the face of business. You can see the topics and guests for upcoming episodes on the sidebar or footer of Growth Igniters Radio dot com.
Scott Harper: Thanks for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Do check out resources related to today’s conversation, get Karen’s special report, share on social media, or subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes or Stitcher. Go to growthignitersradio.com and select episode 7.
Pam Harper: Until next time. This is Pam Harper.
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper.
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success and leaving you with this.
Scott Harper: What opportunities can you uncover to generate new value with unexpected partners, and what will you do to engage them?