Pick Me! The Best Kinds of Assistance for NFPs
10 September 2014 at 10:31 am
The value of skilled and in-kind contributions from businesses rather than cold hard cash should not be underestimated says young entrepreneur and marketing expert Scott Robinson.
Faced with hundreds of requests for help every year, companies, corporations and businesses generally are faced with a massive dilemma – who on earth do we help?!
Today the needs of Not for Profits are greater than ever and it’s a cold hard fact that business does not possess infinite amounts of cash to contribute to all the organisations they wish to support. It can be an utterly heartbreaking dilemma and businesses are generally exceptionally generous.
But it doesn’t stop there. Is what a business contributes enough? Are cash donations the best way to help struggling organisations, or is there real wisdom in the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The value of skilled and in-kind contributions from businesses rather than cold hard cash should not be underestimated.
Not for Profits are usually well served by volunteers, and we all applaud their contribution to the world we live in. Let’s face it – without them, many Australians would be up the creek without a paddle. However, all too often the lack of commercial skill sets is evident.
Businesses can make significant contributions by advising, mentoring and helping to plan, creating efficiencies and developing new skills, which serve to make Not for Profits more commercially competent and assist in creating greater opportunities. It can be the birth of new ideas, improvement in technological know how, marketing, legal and accountancy information and a chance to become self-sufficient.
The Orange Seed Project serves as a powerful example; not only did Year One winners, Perth Bone and Tissue Bank receive cash and significant advertising funds, it also received a comprehensive marketing gift involving strategy, branding, brand management, campaigning, web design and construction as well as the sharing of marketing knowledge.
This resulted in the organisation changing its name, logo and brand devices to PlusLife, assisting the organisation to become more marketable and completely free of grant dependency. It should also be noted the branding recently won an international award for design.
Business assistance to such organisations is not however without its challenges in that Not for Profits have grown notoriously independent and find it difficult to adapt to some commercial practices, especially in the area of marketing. Working with commercial business has to be viewed as a partnership and there has to exist an attitude, which cultivates an acceptance of change. Recent Government policy means Not for Profits are now competing against the big multi nationals and they need to take a more commercial approach to communicating their services to the community.
Some Not for Profits still believe that cash is the only real advantage in terms of donations. Certainly cash is necessary and income is the commodity, which ensures sustainability. Today however, the Government is creating conditions which insist on organisations making their own money rather than handing it out or via an acquittal basis.
Today the client has the power of choice delivered to them by Government. Help, in the form of making Not for Profits more commercially focused is now more important than ever, because it develops the ‘people skills’ in creating income.
The birth of new policy brought about by recent Federal and State Government changes is a fascinating example. Suddenly so many Not for Profits are faced with operating in a discretionary market where clients will make the choice of provider.
Yet Not for Profits are poorly equipped with the ability to project themselves, as larger commercial providers do. Here, business can truly assist in offering commercial expertise to help these bodies market and promote their services.
Some days ago, we spoke to the CEO of an important and very necessary Not for Profit organisation. “Where has the heart gone?” he asked, and perhaps as a nation we must ask ourselves the same question. As a business community we may not have buckets of money ready to throw at every charity requesting help. We can however, offer to share our talents, become mentors and deliver professional advice.
Business can help our world on so many levels. It is simply a matter of heart.
About the author: Scott Robinson is a young entrepreneur and head of marketing agency Jack in the Box. The business runs the Orange Seed Project, designed to assist Not for Profits through access to marketing and strategic expertise. In 2004, 2010 and 2013, Robinson was awarded a WA Business News 40 under 40 Winner, the only person to win the award 3 times. He's also a mentor in the Australian business start-up initiatives, PushStart and StartUp Smart.