Small Business Today Magazine MAR 2016 AMERICAN SERVICES - Page 24

EDITORIAL FEATURE Non-profit Partnership Development: Accessing the Hidden Capacity By Jeffery D. Wallace I had a recent conversation with a friend of mine who runs a small business about a small non-profit organization that he was affiliated with. He indicated he couldn’t be more pleased with the experience but due to a downturn in his profits, he was going to have to scale back his contribution to the organization. We then started talking about an investment he was making with a consulting firm and how he felt there was going to be future dividends from the relationship even though no fruit had come to bear as of yet. I thought about his collective comments and asked myself the question, “Does he consider the non-profit organization he invests in an asset or overhead?” The aforementioned question is an important question that probably isn’t examined by many businesses. When a company evaluates an employee, business partner, or initiative, the basic questions are pretty standard: • What is the return on investment (value)? • What are the associated costs associated with this resource? • What are the liabilities? • What are the dividends? • Is the output optimal from this resource? However, this normal evaluation protocol is sometimes lacking when businesses work with non-profit organizations. Instead, the exchange is purely humanitarian which is excellent. But is the corporation forsaking real capacity in their attempt to engage what is considered a real community service? For example, how many designed projects do you see between business and non-profit organizations versus a business simply sponsoring the activities of a non-profit organization? When a business sits down with a non-profit and enters into exchanges that fill voids for both organizations, such as community engagement activities in strategic areas that meet the non-profit organization’s service scope, is it being done in an area in which the company’s customer base is being served? Another example would be when a company focuses on a servicing campaign for a specific period in which the outreach facilitated by the non-profit organization features a product or service of the business with measured evaluation (i.e. survey). Servicing the community can and should be strategic. Businesses that don’t view their humanitarian investments solely 22 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [[ MARCH 2016 ] Having a plan to optimize the relationship with a non-profit organization is not only an intelligent approach, it can also be a powerful act of risk mitigation that can prevent misrepresentation and wasted effort. A as an altruistic return but an opportunity for their business to optimize return in the community by mapping out ways to track penetration typically get more out of the exchange. Some basic evaluation points that s