The nonprofit investment |

The nonprofit investment

Pete Parker

As a business leader, what is your impression of the nonprofit community? Do you view the organizations within the sector as always seeking support in their attempt to create impact? Or do you look at community organizations as vehicles of opportunity; vehicles of performance; vehicles of growth; vehicles to drive revenue?

As a leader of your company, you’re continually looking for ways to maximize the return on your investments, particularly the funds spent on people and marketing. You incorporate all the typical (tried-and-true) methods of generating profits. But have you ever considered viewing the nonprofit sector as an investment?

It’s likely that your business receives countless requests from local charities to make donations, sponsor events, or contribute to people in need. And, it’s likely that you’ve supported these organizations either through your marketing, charitable contributions, or advertising budgets for truly noble reasons. If your business has supported causes or organizations, kudos to you; there’s no doubt that your support met deserving community needs.

Have you ever leveraged your community investments? If you haven’t viewed the non-profit sector as a vehicle for corporate growth, you might consider taking a deeper look. As you do, be sure to consider the potential value driven by two key functions: corporate donations and employee volunteerism.

For example, did you ever think that one of your company’s best practices could be to feature employee volunteerism as one method of retaining your most qualified personnel? Not only are you adding a level of flexibility to your staff member’s daily routine, you’re enabling your staffer to become more in-tune and connected with the community. If you typically send staff to conferences to pick up new skills, you’ll see considerable savings (and improved skills retention) by encouraging staff members to volunteer in roles which could provide benefit to your company.

As a result of Illinois-based Adventist Midwest Health’s strategic plan, which aims to improve employee engagement and patient satisfaction, employee turnover has decreased and employee satisfaction has increased.

And for example, do you realize the significance of properly and completely leveraging the benefits offered through event sponsorships? With most, sponsors receive a table (or foursome), where they’re invited to bring guests. Well, could you fill the spots with top clients or hot prospective clients? Most sponsorship benefits include public displays of your image (via correspondence, posters, advertisements, programs and/or Web sites. Rather than simply submitting a logo, what about including a message such as your mission or call-to-action? How about placing a reciprocal link with the charity’s logo (and reason for supporting) on your Web site? Would you consider issuing a press release announcing your partnership with the community organization?

According to the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Environmental Survey, “There has been a shift in the value equation: Good business used to be primarily about providing quality products/services at a fair value. But this is no longer sufficient for competitive differentiation. Companies need to display humanity and support issues that resonate with stakeholders to build emotional relevance and loyalty.”

These are just two examples to leveraging (and impacting) your company’s marketing, human resources, and bottom-line-driven efforts … or in a different light … your human and financial capital.

The UK-based Charities Aid Foundation states it quite clearly:

“A successful community investment program can build partnerships with mutual benefit to your company and society; boost staff morale and company loyalty; develop your employees’ skills; enhance your company’s image and reputation; and, influence how government and local bodies see your organization.”

Whether in difficult or strong economic climates, leaders in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors are charged with continually seeking opportunities for growth. When these leaders realize the strength and potential for excellence created through synergistic partnerships, everyone wins…the corporation; the nonprofit organization; and most of all, the community.

Pete Parker is president of Reno-based Parker Development Services, which designs and manages community-engaging solutions by working with nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals. Contact him at 333-9444 or by email