Industry Outlook: Nonprofits

September 9, 2013

WASHBURN: We’ve worked a lot with the EDCU, as well. The growth around Thanksgiving Point with Adobe and Microsoft and lots of other tech
companies, a lot of direct sales companies—a lot of them have shot recruiting videos in the Thanksgiving Point gardens talking about quality of life and experiences. We hear it all the time from people who have moved from out of state how grateful they are to have a place like Thanksgiving Point and some of these other cultural institutions where they can have the experiences that they were used to in San Francisco or Washington or wherever they’re coming from.   

HAVEN: One of the things nonprofits bring to the business community and to our communities in general is that we strengthen families. In whatever capacity we’re doing, we strengthen families, which strengthens communities. You have to have healthy communities for businesses to thrive.

Another one of the things that we bring to the table is the fact that we’re the conveners. We’re the collaborators. We are the kings and queens of working together with each other to make things happen, and we can be conduits for the business communities to make things happen.      

MILNER: I would love the business sector to know how much we stretch dollars, how efficiently we use dollars. We are masters at leveraging a dollar.

I can speak to the homeless community with YWCA, Catholic Community Services—we’re held up across the country as effectively collaborating together. As opposed to fighting for dollars that are spread out all across the district, we come together constantly and collaborate and make sure that we’re not duplicating services, that our clients are being served excellently and that we’re stretching a dollar as far as it can stretch.        

CHIAO: One of the things that is important to note about nonprofits and some of the challenges we experience is this idea of competitive funding. Businesses, government sectors, foundations and other philanthropic agencies need to rethink the idea of competitive funding, because frankly, in my experience of being in the nonprofit field for over a dozen years now, when nonprofits compete, we don’t end up with better products, like in the for-profit community. When nonprofits compete, we really see families struggle.

How do we leverage each other’s dollars? How do we actually utilize funding to scale out everything that we’re doing really well? That’s a really important thing for businesses and government and other sectors to understand about the nonprofit community, that competition creates a different dynamic in our community, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to better results.      

WEDIG: A lot of times businesses see nonprofits coming and asking for cash donations, and as a small nonprofit, I can say that sometimes the in-kind and the donated services are just as or more important. When we’ve partnered with businesses, whether it be through facilitating meetings or discussions, survey tools to gain information, accounting services, financial advice—when businesses can contribute those types of services to our small nonprofits, it’s something what we could maybe likely never afford. So it goes a long way.      

Another way that businesses can really help is by offering match programs for their employees. We talked about those $10 monthly donations that are the bread and butter for small nonprofits. When you have a matching program in place, even as a small business, it helps stretch those dollars even further.

Finally, I would just add that we are constantly looking for valuable board members that can contribute to our organization and serve on boards.        

CHRISTENSEN: It’s really important for businesses to understand that none of us are asking for a hand-to-mouth handout. We’re not asking to give what we get as a daily supplement. Every time we think about feeding somebody, it doesn’t stop there. It’s so they can be healthy in a classroom and permanently resolve this societal issue of poverty. Every dollar we get isn’t about today, it’s about the long-term future.  

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