The January 2011 Leadership Austin Engage Breakfast Series featured Justin Evans (Capital One Bank) and Matt Kouri (Greenlights for NonProfit Success) talking about how Non-Profits and For-Profit organizations can better work together.
The sold-out crowd packed the private meeting room at Chez Zee Restaurant. Attendees were a mix of those who worked for charitable groups and corporations.
Whether you work for a company, or are just a person sorting your own mail, you are constantly receiving envelopes with requests for donations to support some cause. In all economic conditions charities are seeking money to allow them to serve their constituencies.
Many philanthropies host big events where they seek company support, promising to provide the business with exposure to the community. These become "Logo-Soup Galas", where banner after banner of corporate logos cover the walls. In the end there are so many logos, that none are noticed.
In today's world a non-profit must do more than promise to promote a corporate sponsor on the website, invitation, and event brochure. Companies can do a better job of buying their own advertising. Better is to help link them to an experience that will bring along PR opportunities. The media does not "like" corporations, but they "love" charities!
Smart non-profits are working in partnerships to create unique experience based ways for companies to get noticed. American Express is running a very creative charitable campaign in conjunction with the hit TV Show Glee, and getting a lot of attention for their efforts (I have not seen these ads, but others in the audience nodded in agreement!).
Locally Sweet Leaf Tea donates 1% of their profits to local charities, and is always participating in positive charity events passing out their delicious teas and lemonades. This has become part of their culture, PR, and the experience of all who know them and buy their products.
Corporations that are not engaged with giving back are starting to experience a competitive disadvantage. People expect the businesses they hire, and where they work, to be good citizens. 62% of Generation Y want to work for companies that allow them to volunteer in a meaningful way. If your company is not paying attention to this you are missing out on recruiting and retention tools.
Austin has more charities, per capita, than just about any other city in the United States (the most in the Southwest). This means that non-profits are in competition with each other for a limited number of dollars. We are starting to see mergers of non-profits so that they can maximize their effectiveness, and create economies of scale. If two similar organizations become one, they might double their chance of winning the money that might be given to their cause!
The most interesting statistic I heard at this breakfast was that 75% of all charitable giving in the United States comes from individuals.... NOT corporations, churches or philanthropic foundations! (Did you know that? I did not!). This reinforces my own themes that "You Do Not Need To Be Rich To Impact A Charity" and ""Non-Profits Need To Get Beyond 'Elephant Hunting' When Seeking Donations".
I am leading a panel at the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive conference on this very topic (You Can Impact Charity Without Being Rich)..... if you will be at SXSW, I hope you will come and listen.
Have A Great Day