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Service and Social Clubs as Your Partner

For years, nonprofits have watched funding dollars dwindle at the same time as the demand for their services increase, forcing them to find solutions where they can achieve much more with much less. In recent issues of this newsletter, we’ve featured strategic partnerships as a way to offer greater impact to your constituents. Partnerships consultant Barbara Rose believes local service organizations have the potential to be useful partners for your organizations.

Nonprofit organizations have been affected in multiple ways because of the Great Recession. Donations from individuals are scarcer, granting institutions are giving less because their investments have decreased, and fundraising events often yield fewer dollars. To compound these issues, the recession has left many nonprofit clients in even more serious need.

In this time of struggle, new partnerships are needed to restore financial support for our valuable organizations.

Service or social enterprises like Rotary Clubs, Junior League, Kiwanis, Lions Clubs, Red Hat Ladies, or Atlanta Women's Network offer valuable possibilities that can benefit both organizations. Service clubs are already committed to supporting the community, and nonprofits dedicated to fulfilling unmet community needs should make a perfect partnership. Social clubs may not have a service component, but may be interested in the opportunity to participate in a cause.

If your board and staff decide to reach out to other organizations, here are a few suggestions to begin a partnership:

Personal Relationships:

Try networking, the first and most important task in finding a new partnership. Who on your board or staff already belongs to a community service or social club? Ask them to begin a discussion with their fellow club-members about the nonprofit’s mission and how it fits into the club’s focus. That specific board or staff member should take responsibility for initiating the working partnership with a proposal for support or collaboration. If no one at your nonprofit has a service or social club connection, have a conversation to decide who could join and where they might belong, then make the effort to become an active member. Sometimes, an organization falls short of funding simply because they aren’t visibile in the community.

Presenting the Case:

Research local clubs to learn their meeting schedule and speaker policy. For example, there are more than 30 Rotary Clubs in the Atlanta area, and each features a speaker almost every week of the year. Get the name of the Program Chairman for the year and contact him or her directly. Find out what topics are popular at their meetings and offer yourself, or a staff or board member, as an expert speaker. While there as a speaker, make sure to connect individually with as many members as possible, and follow up afterward to discuss a potential partnership.

General Conversation:

When asked "What’s new?," board members and staff should always be ready with an “Elevator Speech” about their personal involvement with their outstanding, fantastic, wonderful, tremendous (you get the idea!) nonprofit. It is everyone’s responsibility to spread the good word about the organization for which they work.

If your group has not yet reached out to service/social clubs, this is the time to do it. If you already have, keep working with the clubs. Your efforts will benefit many.

Barbara B. Rose is the President of New Generation Partnerships, Inc., and is an affiliate consultant of GCN's Nonprofit Consulting Group.

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2.04.22 | Online