Is there Competition in Sponsorships, Collaborations?

Something that I’ve been pondering (again) and something that was recently raised with me was the issue of whether you can have more than one sponsor for your organisation from the same “industry”?

I recall a few years ago when an organisation I was doing some work with had an approach from a professional service provider who wanted to get on board and help the organisation, but as there was already a sponsor from the same profession the CEO and Board were hesitant to accept the offer.

The company made several calls, sent numerous emails and eventually they were invited in for a meeting to further discuss what they wanted to offer; when it was suggested to them that their “competitor” was already a sponsor, all eyes lit up. Not the charity’s, but the reps from the business. They could see an opportunity, not selfishly, just an opportunity that could work toward something more favourable for the charity.

Eventually the company’s offer of support was accepted and they produced a great service offering to the charity and those who were benefiting from the work of the services provided by the charity – it was a win win.

A further win was when the two “competing” companies met at a black tie dinner and discussed how they could work together to further enhance the work of the charity.

They started working together to build on the work of the charity, they developed a new funding model and – they laid down a challenge to one another, an annual sports challenge between the two companies. This raised significant funds for the charity, raised morale within the two companies and created other opportunities.

So, to cut a long story short, don’t shut the door on an offer of support until you have sat and carefully looked at the offer from all angles. There’s more than likely positives to come from having “competition” in your sponsorship ranks.

Are you Prepared to Collaborate?

There’s an abundance of non  profits in New Zealand, something on the lines of 26,000 registered charities, organisations could face support, funding and delivery issues unless there’s more collaboration.

Unless organisations collaborate there is a risk some organisations will cease to exist. There’s only so much people can give, both individuals, business and funding bodies; so just on a funding basis collaboration is needed.

I recall somewhere seeing a stat that there’s something like 170 or so people for every charity in the country (New Zealand). This would suggest that they way charities operate as standalone entities probably isn’t sustainable indefinitely.

If organisations with similar missions, clients, beneficiaries worked alongside one another, looked at merging or simply worked collaborately there would be shared resources, reduced costs, taking some of the financial risks away.

But, collaboration would also allow for people of like minds to share experiences, offer guidance and perhaps become mentors for others less experienced in the non profit space; all of which would help with the sustainability of non profits.

As anyone in the non profit sector knows funding is one of the biggest challenges beng faced by many organisations and, with collaboration, rationalisation of organisations their is likely to be organisations looking to either downsize or close.

I’ve talked before about the struggle for funding, the Mr and Mrs Public are looking at their giving, grants and other funding is competitive, so organisations are needing to look at other income sources.

If organisations collaborated, shared space it would allow for funds to be directed to the services being provided, instead of being abosorbed in running costs. The more money that can be saved from adminstrative, operational costs means more can be done to help those that organisations are established to help.

Would your organisation benefit from working closer with others doing the same or similar activities as you?

Imagine a win-win, where resources were shared, ideas shared, where you could learn from one another, and at the same time have reduced overheads. Wouldn’t this benefit everyone, you and those you’re established to help?

What would have to happen for your organisation to collaborate and look at merging with another?

To Collaborate or Not

With the abundance of charities in New Zealand, with many working in the same area, providing the same or similar services, should more be collaborating?

Perhaps organisations can work with each other more to not only potentially deliver more services, to more people, but in doing so help reduce each others overheads.

There are situations where organisations will work with each other to avoid a clash of appeal timing and, yes, there are sector bodies who oversee and help co-ordinate certain public appeals; but could more be done?

If more organisations worked closer together the sector itself perhaps might be in a better shape, supporters may feel their support, their funds are being used in a better way.

I’ve spoken with some in the sector who think they would be in better position if they collaborated more but, they’re reluctant to pursue it as they fear losing control of their organisation, that they may lose public appeal for what they are doing. This can likely be easily allayed by having at the outset of any collaborative endeavour organisations simply have to have ground rules to which they agree and will stick to.

Often organisations struggle to source information, gain participation and shift public perception of an issue; often expending vast sums of money, on things other organisations are also trying to do; through collaboration this can be avoided, and focus can go back to the core activities of organisations.

One area where organization can be better of through collaboration is the sharing of skills, experience and administrative tasks; imagine if you had a few organisation working together in a single space; they could not only share skills but the expense of the admin and related overheads, leaving more funds available to carry-out the work they are there to do.

Look at how places have been established for business to share space, equipment at overhead costs, this has enabled them to grow and share knowledge. If commercial entities can do it, why can’t organisations in the charitable sector?

I’ve often quoted something a manager of mine told me years ago “competition without out opposition” – and that’s what collaboration can be.

Would, or does your organisation collaborate with others in the sector, if so how has this enabled you to better carry out the work you do, have you seen any improvements in the quality of your service offering?

If you support charities, would you like to see more collaboration between organisations, particularly those working in the same space?

Business Partnerships

When looking at business support, sponsorship or any other form of “partnership” – remember it’s that, a partnership.

This article from Rob Wu on the The CauseVox Blog makes for interesting reading, and has some great pointers.
Working with Partners & Brands

There’s power in partnerships.

When you work together, you can create something bigger and more successful than if you just worked alone.

Let’s find out the two major types of partnerships that you should be leveraging.

Two types of partners

Resource partners

Resource partners are those who can provide the resources necessary for your fundraising campaign. Typically resource partners are companies, foundations, and major donors.

Common examples of resource partners can include…

Promotion partners

Promotion partners are those who can help you raise awareness. This helps you reach new networks of potential supporters and donors.  Typically promotion partners are companies and brands.

Common examples of promotion partners can include…

  • Point of sale donation
  • Website advertising
  • Google Adwords for nonprofits

Read full post here

Collaboration is Needed

It’ s often been said that charities, those in the not for profit sector need to work together, that there should be more collaboration between organisations.

Some figures suggest that there is about 170-odd people for every charity in New Zealand; that’s a staggering ration.

Who would, could collaborate; the simple way of looking at this would be those organisations that are like minded, those who share a common visions, geographical location could also be taken into account. Don’t forget that those organisation sharing a common beneficiary could perhaps work better if they worked together.

With a number of organisations working in similar areas, with similar needs unless there is some form of collaboration the potential is there for some of organisations to cease to exist. The charity “market” is no different to any other market – it’s supply and demand; in the charity sector the “supply” could relate to funding.

Annual street appeals, envelope collections, tele-fundraising campaigns and the like are only some of the ways organisations gain the funds they need to do their work. Most organisations would also be applying for grants, and many “like” organisations would be competing for the same dollar.

This competition for funding is making it harder for organisations to gain the funding required to do the work they’re committed to do; and this has the potential to only get worse.

Already organisations are having to look for other income avenues in order to survive.

But funding is only one area that could benefit organisations who collaborate.

Organisations who collaborate will have opportunities to share stories, ideas, this would help each other gain further insights into the work they do, the “market” and much more … a win all round.

Do you have stories of organisations who are collaborating, how did they start their collaboration – what do the collaborate on, please share your insights.

Stop Firefighting – Start Fires Instead

Recently I read “Fundraisers – ‘Stop firefighting and see the fire’” and thought about how collaboration and technology is changing the way organization go about their job.

Are we seeing collaboration in New Zealand – short answer, from my perspective we’re aren’t. Most organizations are for whatever reason afraid of sharing what they’re doing, how they’re doing it with others in the sector.

Reading “We are currently part of a consortium of 23 North West hospices who have collaborated on a new Granada TV advert. It is the first of what we hope will be many collaborative partnerships across the hospice movement.”  Made me think about how many organizations we have working in the same field could collaborate to spread their message.

Imagine the cost savings, potential increased reach and resultant support – why are we short sighted?

Surely the time has come for more collaboration, more sharing of ideas, tools and tricks.

Sure, some will say, but they’re our competition. But competition there can be competition without opposition – support for the common good can out weigh the negatives.

Claire Houghton  says in her piece “Local charity fundraising is often too focused on the fire fighting to see the fire”.

I say – light the fire, ignite interest in your sector, pick up the phone and have a chat with an organization doing similar work to you – ignite the passion to collaborate and engage on a regular basis.

Don’t fight fires, start them.