Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Try Thinking Like a Business

Every day business owners have the opportunity to attend – either virtually via webinars or in person – seminars designed to help them improve their businesses. Topics include advice on ways to take their businesses “to the next level” in such areas as technology, social media, marketing, human resources, finance, general management. Could some of this advice also be helpful to not-for- profits? Should NFPs pay more attention to business practices? Why not?

In a very real sense, NFPs are engaged in business.  The product is the mission and/or services offered. And fund raising is sales. NFPs have human resources issues.  NFPs need to know about and apply technology for greater efficiency, and even as part of the fund raising plan.  Information about bank financing options is also valid.  NFPs frequently finance expansion projects and meet cash-flow needs with the assistance of loans and lines of credit. 

Leaders in the field note that NFP managers need to realign themselves and what they do: to think entrepreneurially.  They should look at the efficiencies of what they already do, consider ways to change the culture of their operations by finding more methodical ways of ‘doing business’ – in other words, by applying an entrepreneurial sense to achieving mission.
So the next time you have an opportunity to attend a workshop for “business people,” go!  You’d be surprised how much you can learn that is applicable to the management of your NFP. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Building Partnerships with Business

When not-for-profits and business work together, it can be a win/win!

Many businesses find that philanthropic activities can be a great marketing strategy.  It raises positive perceptions, it provides low-cost community exposure, and it creates a relationship between the business and the supporters of a charity.  An office supply store attracts business and good will by offering special discounts to school teachers.  A restaurant fills tables on slow nights by donating a percent of all sales to a chosen charity.  A financial institution sponsors regular giving days on which employees who donate to a named charity are allowed to wear jeans to work. 

So, how can your charity benefit from such a partnership?  Here are a few ideas to consider.

  1. Be proactive.
Don’t wait for a business to come to you.  Take a partnership idea to a business.

  1.  Target businesses that have something in common with your supporters.
Consider what’s in it for the business – more business, exposure to a targeted market, increased customer loyalty.

  1. Offer a plan for joint publicity. 
Be prepared to detail how the relationship will be promoted – press releases, mailings to donors, etc.  Ask the business include it in regular advertising and via store posters.

  1. Rally your supporters to do the requisite shopping/dining/etc.
Here’s a way for the people who care about you to help you without spending extra money.  They merely acquire an experience, item, etc. they might have had anyway.

One caveat – pick a reputable partner.  Don’t allow your good name to be used – or possibly abused – by someone strictly for their own gain.  The goal here is win/win.

Partnerships between not-for-profits and business are very common.  If your organization has not explored this relatively painless way to increase funds and exposure, then now’s the time to see if you can add it to your list of fund raising activities.

Kathryn Lima has over 30 years of experience in marketing, public relations, and fund raising.  E-mail your fund raising questions to her at

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fund Raising Tips for Clubs

If you belong to a club, you are probably always seeking ways to raise money for your favorite causes.  This is a universal issue for many civic clubs.  Many years of observations about how clubs raise money and what seems to work or not work, have inspired the following list of tips that should help improve fund raising results and keep members motivated.

v  Pick a project/theme/cause
Ø  Choose something that relates to the club’s interests
Ø  Partner with an established agency/organization
Ø  Select an aspect that is under funded – don’t be just another “drop in the bucket”

v  Set a goal
Ø  Make it realistic
Ø  Make it monetary
Ø  Tie it to an accomplishment, e.g., provide breakfast for 200 children

v  Plan a diverse strategy with a timetable
Ø  Should meet needs and abilities of membership
Ø  E.g., one event, one sales item, one direct contribution effort

v  Appoint a chair person and committee for each effort
Ø  Avoids burnout
Ø  Allows for simultaneous planning and implementation of various projects
Ø  Allows members to participate where interests, abilities and time are most conducive

v  Publicize, publicize, publicize
Ø  Before, during, and after each event
Ø  When presenting your gift

v  Celebrate
Ø  Allow members to experience joy of making a difference

Kathryn Lima has over 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, and fund raising.  E-mail your fund raising questions to her at