Non Profits are Clients Too!

Nearly every business nowadays has ties to supporting altruistic efforts as a part of their regular corporate expenses. From large multi-nationals signing million dollar checks for reducing poverty in developing communities, to the mom-and-pop that supports the local baseball team, businesses want to help. Help mostly comes in monetary giving; non-profits need money to support their programs. But giving shouldn’t be limited to a holiday pledge drive or simply bankrolling a community initiative. According to Charity Navigator, in 2017, direct corporate donations to non-profits was approximately $20.7B but still only accounted for 5% of all donations. Despite not being run for profit, these organizations and community groups also benefit from donated expertise and business services! Here are 3 reasons why your business should donate your services to non-profit organizations:

  1. Develop Sales Relationships
  2. Who do you know? One of the biggest factors for success in sales, whether that be applying for a job or securing a new client contract, is pre-existing contacts. We prefer to do business with who we trust, especially those who share similar passions. Being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with your business partner at the soup kitchen shows your them you care. Building relationships around an idea or cause that has mutual passion results in far more authentic sales discussions. By donating your time instead of a check without a face, your organization can build new sales contacts to grow your business.

  3. Real World Training with Lowered Stakes
  4. How many times have you wanted an employee in your company to be a better contract or client lead, but have been too concerned to have them do it without any concrete training or experience? Non-profits can be the training grounds for you to develop better client relations within your organization. For example, Toyota donated business expertise to the NYC Food Bank to help optimize their processes; in which they did improve operations. The not-so-obvious benefit was that
    the food bank was more focused on outcomes of working with Toyota rather than how Toyota worked with them (although the Toyota engineers were professional, courteous, and all-around awesome).

    • The specific engineers may not have had experience being a client or contract lead, and this opportunity gave them real world experience to develop themselves. Now Toyota can confidentially have those engineers lead other client projects whom may be more critical and sensitive to the business relationship. Positive externalities like this exist within these low-stakes environments that your organization can take advantage of while partnering with community non-profits.


  5. Because You Care
  6. Non-profits exist because they see a social issue that is not addressed enough. Whether that’s feeding the homeless or helping women escape domestic abuse, non-profits work because they care about the outcome more than any potential revenue. Although you and your business may be for profit, you still have deep seated interests in helping others because you care! Working alongside a non-profit allows your efforts to serve a greater purpose in your business’ philanthropy and personal interests in bettering the world around you. Passionate work can lead to greater efforts and results by you and your chosen non-profit’s combined efforts than simply donating a check.

Businesses exist to transfer wealth through services and products and aim to turn a profit through their efforts. As much as we work for the success of our businesses, our human interest in altruistic betterment of the world around still exists and permeates the companies we build and work for. You don’t need to separate yourself from your work in order to still help others; in fact, working with non- profits as a client can produce positive externalities for your company as well. Next time you’re at the animal shelter or soup kitchen, ask if they would like some help streamlining their processes instead of simply paying for a little more time. You can help non-profits grow into more stable enterprises as they work in your community to better the world around you.

“Giving Statistics.” Charity Navigator, 12 June 2018.

By: Tex Reinemann

Round TableList of Attendees

Bryan Hannegan, President & CEO, Holy Cross Energy
Lora Anguay, Director, Distribution Operations SMUD
Josh Gould, Director of Innovation, Duquesne Light
Omaya Ahmad. PhD, Sustainability Policy Consultant, Arizona Public Services (APS)
Peter Muhoro. PhD, VP Strategy & Technology. Rappahannock Electric Cooperative