Archive for December, 2010

There are barriers to mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, and collaborations within and between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Over the next few months, I’ll take a stab at addressing a few of the barriers I have experienced over the past 15+ years from both sides of the isle. Some I was able to traverse, some I went around, and some flat stopped me where I stood. Nevertheless, there are significant benefits to both the non-profits and for-profits through the creation of what I call “Mutually Beneficial Collaborations” or MBC’s that hopefully will result in “Mutually Beneficial Relationships” or MBR’s. Forgive me. I love acronyms. Don’t worry, I will define both MBC’s and MBR’s in later submissions. Now, I am absolutely confident there are case studies upon case studies and examples upon examples of non-profit and for-profit collaborations that worked and even more that were either not as beneficial as expected or were doomed from the start. I have a few in each category that I can expand on from a first hand perspective, and will. However, I would like to look at things from a broader, more “fundamental”, viewpoint. And, if that wasn’t thrilling enough, I will do what I can to provide as many “what not to do’s” as “what to do’s”…being that I know as many or more of the former as the latter.  In light of the last statement, indulge me in a short sidebar so I can provide a little insight into my approach.

The M.O., or modust operardi, of most consultants or advisors, me included to some extent, is to take a look at what a business or organization is doing: its systems, methods, strategies, applications, etc…, and make recommendations on ways the business or organization can improve, fix, cure, sure-up, galvanize, improve, globalize, modernize, and so on and so on, its current systems, methods, strategies, applications, etc… In many cases, the recommendations work or at least have the potential to work. In others, the recommendations have no chance of even landing in the same hemisphere of working or being a viable solution. The really cool thing here is that the same recommendation could be given to two different groups and will be a raving success in one case and an utter failure in another. Moral of the story: Each organization or business is different and unless the consultant or advisor gets to know the client, to include but not limited to: the client’s culture, wants, past successes and failures, current capabilities and resources, expectations, etc…, at best it’s a calculated guess or a SWAG (scientific wild … guess) as to whether the recommendations will work. Therefore, it is possible that in some situations, making recommendation on potentially what “not” to do is better than recommending what to do. We’ll talk about this more later. Back to the issue at hand.

Let’s take a quick look at both sides of the coin…

Non-Profits:

In 2007, over $295B in private donations (includes individual, corporate, and foundation donations) were given to charitable organizations. In 2005, 73.8% of public charities reported less than $500K in annual expenses, 82.3% reported less than $1M in annual expenses, and 93.7% less than $5M. * Currently, 1,514,821 tax-exempt organizations are registered with the IRS. This number includes 956,760 public charities and 112,959 private foundations. In addition, 443,464 other types of nonprofit organizations, such as chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues, are registered with the IRS.*

  • These organizations are meeting societal needs through the services and programs they provide, usually on a local or regional level.
  • The lack of available resources or perception of the lack of resources, in many cases, restricts the ability to obtain adequate, in either numbers or experience or both, staffing and/or systems.
  • Are passionate about the cause and those they wish to serve but inexperienced in many aspects of business, marketing, branding, fundraising, etc…and don’t speak the language of “ROI” that is spoken in today’s marketplace and in homes across America and absolutely necessary in establishing mutually beneficial relationships and support networks.
  • There is often no available funding for training, consultants, etc… And when funding exists, often the solutions presented by outside groups and consultants either conflict with the organization’s culture – internally and externally, exceeds organization’s capacity to implement, or are simply inadequate to meet the organization’s needs because…“You get what you pay (or can pay) for.”
  • Non-profits, like businesses, are territorial and protective of their donors, sponsors, partnerships, etc…, as they should be, but sometimes cannot see the benefit of relationships with other NPO’s and causes.
  • Think that all the money for sponsorships and support is in corporate America marketing departments and don’t know there are multiple revenue sources within corporate entities…sources that don’t reside in marketing.

For Profit Sector, Individuals, Family Foundations, etc…

  • Give charitably to organizations or causes because “it’s who we have always supported” despite the lack of synergy or staff buy-in/support
  • Want to support charities and philanthropic endeavors but….
  • Not sure of the right charity or organization to support
  • Cannot justify support or see the benefit, from an ROI perspective, of charitable giving or involvement
  • Do not have the time, staff resources, or experience to research and find the “right” charity or organization, one that compliments the company or donor’s: culture – internally and externally, capabilities, mission, etc…, or create the company or donor’s own philanthropic initiative
  • Don’t trust the nonprofit’s ability to “handle” the funding and/or resources given

By no means are the above lists exhaustive. They simply include a few stats as well as personal observations through my own experiences with both sides of the profit isle.  Nevertheless, I will be looking at a few of the above as well as others over the next few months. I truly believe there is great benefit to be had by both the for-profit and non-profit at any level, from multi-national organizations and businesses to the smallest local organizations and businesses, through strategic, well thought out, innovative, and timely MBC’s.

Until next time…

*(Source: The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Business Master File 12/08)

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The Drum

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Articles

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Christmas. The time for decorations, lights, sweaters (everywhere except Florida), cider, great food, friends, family, traffic, stress, overcrowded malls, and gifts. It also means carols that began just after July 4th and will go through Memorial Day. Sorry, maybe it just seems that way. No, I like Christmas carols and Christmas music …during Christmas. I digress.

The song “Little Drummer Boy” was always a favorite of mine growing up. But I never really understood the meaning or took the song’s message into context as it relates to “the giving of a gift.” Now I have to be honest when I say that I am not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday. Yes, you read it right. No typo here. I know that I have just thrown many of you, and those in ear shot of your audible reaction to this as well as those who just saw you throw your copy of Power Source Magazine across the room, into an uproar and simply cannot believe that a Christian, especially one who claims to be an “outspoken and highly motivated servant of the Almighty” would say that he was not a fan of Christmas.  I am going to pause here for a second……or two….. Good. Hopefully things have calmed down where you are, you didn’t lose your testimony, and your blood pressure has come back to a relatively normal level. If it hasn’t, please take some deep breaths and think happy thoughts. It’s okay. I’ll wait for you. I don’t want you to miss out on the rest of the message.

I said I wasn’t a fan of the Christmas HOLIDAY, not the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the greatest Gift ever given. Period.  And the gift He brings is eternal life with Him in heaven. While I could jump into full pastoral discourse, I see no need for it. Bottom line: It really doesn’t get any better than God’s Gift and the gift of salvation. Now. What I am not a big fan of is what the Christmas holiday has turned into…a “keepin’ up with the Jones’ and trying to get everything that’s hot this year while making sure the kids get more than last year in order to outdo the neighbors and coworkers in a quest – to the death if necessary – for the ultimate gift despite the mounting debt but it’s never quite enough” holiday. I have to ask you, does that sound like a holiday where Christ is at the center? You don’t have to respond. We know the answer.

We as people, especially us men, need to realize that we bring absolutely nothing to the table. It’s God’s unlimited grace that allows us to enter into His presence. It’s not what we bring through our abilities, talents, or our works. He doesn’t need us. He created the heavens and the earth for crying out loud. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. But despite our inadequacies, He wants to be involved in every single little aspect of our lives. All He asks of us is…us. We think His love is because of us and what we do for Him. Is this you? However, as Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” On the other side, many of us feel so unworthy, so undeserving of anyone’s love, much less God’s love, because of what we have done or even continue to do, that the gifts of grace and forgiveness are far beyond our reach or comprehension.  We feel there is no way God wants to hear from me, could ever love me, or would ever want a “gift” from me. Is that you? Romans 5:8 (NIV) says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Back to the drum…

As I said earlier, the song “The Little Drummer Boy” was a favorite of mine growing up but I never really got it, or at least what it means to me, until just recently. A small boy, in a humbleness that only a child can bring, stands before Christ, the newborn King, the Savior of the world, and brings all he has, a gift of noise made by two sticks on an animal skin draped over a piece of wood.  If you listen to the words of the song, it says, “ I’m a poor boy too…I have no gift to bring…that’s fit to give the King…Shall I play for you…on my drum…” His gift was not the beautiful tones from a violin, or a flute, or a harp. He banged on a drum.  I can only imagine what God must have thought as He looked proudly down at the boy, His child. No doubt His response must have been, “That’s all I want you to do. I gave you a drum. And all I ask is that you do your best with what I have given you and then give it, your life, back to me as a gift.” By the way, He wants the same from us today.  The song goes on, “I played my drum for Him…I played my best for Him…” What happens? The last line of the song says it all… “Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum, me and my drum.”

How awesome, and humbling, and incredible, and unbelievable is it that we can stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords empty handed and with nothing more to offer but our messed up and shallow lives …noise, and receive unconditional grace, love, and forgiveness…a smile? Wow.  That’s my God.  Men, our worth in this life is not in the status we achieve, in the possessions we have acquired, in the fortunes we have amassed, or in the gifts we are able or unable to give. Our worth resides in the eyes and arms of our Heavenly Father and in the life, and noise, we bring to the manger of Christ. Merry Christmas. Keep it real.

Published in Power Source Magazine, December 2010 (www.powersourcemagazine.com)