Leslie was recently quoted in a Software Advice blog called, “The Secret to Landing Corporate Donations” from The Able Altruist: (http://able-altruist.softwareadvice.com/the-secret-to-landing-corporate-donations-1113/). The message of the blog post is that if an organization is seeking corporate support, it is helpful to get to know that corporation inside and out. Professional fundraisers seeking corporate support “must position their organization’s campaign to align with the company’s brand, employees’ interests and community goals to form a mutually beneficial and lasting partnership.” This is absolutely true.

I would further argue that the non-profit that is receiving the contribution could do more to engage the corporation in the needs they are addressing in the community. Non-profits often work on a shoestring budget and are expected to solve enormous issues that haven’t really changed in years – homelessness, education, hunger, poverty – the list goes on and on. If we want to see significant change in these areas, corporations need to partner with and make significant investments in the agencies that are tirelessly addressing these issues.

Dan Pallotta has a powerful TED talk called “The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong.” You can find it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfAzi6D5FpM. He’s absolutely right when he makes the point that non-profit organizations are treated completely differently than for-profit organizations. He gives numerous examples. Consider the compensation for executives in the for-profit vs. non-profit sectors. According to Pallotta, a Stanford MBA starts out making $400,000 a year vs. $84,000 for the CEO of a non-profit addressing hunger. For-profits are supposed to spend money on marketing/advertising. In non-profit land, no one wants their donation to be spent on marketing and advertising. Non-profits are not encouraged to take risks like for-profits are; Pallotta argues that when you kill risk you kill innovation.

My point is this: if we want to see significant change in our communities, non-profit organizations need to engage more deeply and more creatively with for-profit organizations than merely seeking a donation. It’s going to take the combined resources and leverage of non-profit and for-profit organizations to move the needle on some of our society’s most intractable needs. Real change requires collaboration, commitment and shared resources.

Non-profits are often told that they should be run “more like a business.”

How often do you think businesses are told they could run “more like a non-profit”? I’m guessing they’re not.

Truth is that they could learn from each other… but only if they make a real effort to invite each other to the table.