Do you really know what you want to do in a partnership?

July 10, 2014

Part 18 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Why what how

Before beginning the deep dive into what your organization would like to do through a cross-sector partnership and then defining your key objectives, there is a critical first step – asking the question:Do you know your WHY? The products or services your organization provides is the what you do. The manner in which you deliver these products or services to your customers or the public is how you do that delivery. However, the most important question that you and your organization must determine is why you do what you do. The why must come first. The why is your driving motivation. It’s what inspires you, your employees, your donors, indeed all your stakeholders, to take interest in your organization and to support it wholeheartedly. Without a strong and articulated why, you are just another nuts-and-bolts organization (in any sector), and one of the very many.

The similarities to what we have described as a glowing business are obviously related to the why. Glow starts from within, and radiates outwardly, and so does the why. You can’t have a glowing organization unless all your stakeholders are inspired and motivated, thrilled to be involved and thrilled to tell others about this involvement. My belief is that the best and maybe the only way to create this glow, this why, is by embedding a cause consciousness into the very essence and culture of your organization. When your organization stands not just for your own benefit, but far more importantly, for what you can do for others and to create a greater good…that’s the glow, that’s the why.

Simon Sinek wrote the terrific book Start With Why. He writes, “By WHY I mean, what is your purpose, cause or belief?” And further on, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” And my favorite line: “… all those who share the organization’s view of the world will be drawn to it and its products like a moth to a light bulb.”

With the understanding of your why firmly in place, now you can move on to what you want to do. We have explored the multiple benefits that can come from a cross-sector partnership. But practically speaking, your organization must choose the specific objective or a very short list of priorities that are the highest priorities. For example, you may decide that your top priority is to raise the sales revenue of a particular product or service, provide employee volunteer opportunities in your community or to open up a new store or business location. If you are a nonprofit, your primary objectives may be to increase your donor base, fund and open a new project or program, attract corporate volunteers, develop an earned income opportunity, etc.

To assist in determining your “What do you want to do?” process, you may wish to utilize the two “Top 10” lists: Benefits a for-profit organization can receive by working with a nonprofit organization and Benefits a nonprofit organization can receive by working with a for-profit organization, provided earlier in this book, or preferably, review the complete lists of benefits which can be found in the Resource Center at http://www.bruceburtch.com. Now you have over 30 distinct benefits your organization may be able to receive in a cross-sector partnership and these will serve as a guide in determining which objectives would have the greatest positive impact on the needs, challenges or opportunities facing your organization. When developing your strongest case for what will work best for your organization, and in due course what will provide the best partnership opportunity, you need to select from these ideas or objectives your top three, and then very clearly, define and agree upon your number one objective.

By defining your top objectives, and especially by selecting one as your top objective, you significantly increase your potential for a successful project or campaign. If you try to address too many objectives you will weaken the energy, resources and talent, and potentially not accomplish any of your objectives.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information about cross-sector partnerships and Win-Win for the Greater Good.

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What to Avoid When Developing a Cause Marketing Campaign

April 10, 2014

Part 14 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Even with the best intentions, sometimes among major players who should know better, cause marketing can go terribly wrong. The mantra of cause marketing, indeed of all cross-sector partnerships, is that the partners need to be well aligned. Their missions, their products or services and how they present their campaign to the public must make sense as a partnership. The public becomes skeptical when they smell or taste that the campaign is purely done to make money. Here are some bloopers.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Pothole Program
Recognizing the ubiquitous problem that many of our roads and highways have fallen into disrepair, KFC thought that it would be a good idea if they teamed up with several cities around the country and filled in those cities’ potholes. So the public would know who was making this generous donation, KFC painted their bright white logo on top of the freshly laid asphalt. As you see in this promotional photograph, “The Colonel” is pointing his cane at a recently paved, logo-covered pothole.

KFC Colonel

So we see potholes filled with oily black tar, covered with a KFC logo, which will be run over by cars, slowly but surely erasing the logo. This message has the unintended effect of linking KFC and its heavily-oiled, deep-fried chicken with steaming oily black tar and inadvertently, brings a whole new meaning to “road kill.”

I hate to pick on KFC, but if the bucket fits. After the above-described campaign, they developed a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and produced a second highly-questionable campaign where they really stuck their wing in it.

KFC Buckets
“Buckets for the Cure” Campaign

KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure launched a campaign in which they printed pink KFC buckets with the breast cancer ribbon and then handed their customers the bucket full of fried chicken wings, legs and breasts. $.50 of the sale of each bucket went to the charity. What were they thinking? A respected nonprofit organization dedicated to education and research about breast cancer promoting deep-fried food, in pink buckets.

Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters said: “So, in effect, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping to sell deep-fried fast food and, in so doing, help fuel unhealthy diet and obesity across America, an odd plan given that diet and obesity certainly impact on both the incidence and recurrence of breast cancer.”

What was this campaign really all about? Yes, money. KFC donated more than $4.2 Million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest single donation in organization’s history. Roger Eaton, President of KFC Corporation said, “This was a campaign that allowed our customers to fill up their stomachs and their hearts at the same time.” Needless to say, this campaign caused a media and consumer controversy which, if only briefly, damaged the credibility of Susan G. Komen… but it made lots of money.

The investor extraordinaire, Warren Buffett, once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” There is nothing worth the risk of destroying a hard-earned reputation.

The key points I would suggest you take away from this discussion on what not to do in cause marketing:
• Do absolutely nothing that will hurt your brand. Good reputations are hard to gain and much harder to regain if lost.
• Never be just about the money; greed is ugly and hard to hide.
• Always put the cause first, which will gain attention, loyalty and finally, financial success.
• Be unique! Stand out from the crowd! Don’t be a chicken! (sorry)

Wrapping Up
Cause marketing comes in all shapes and sizes and can be an exceptionally effective fund development and brand awareness-generating program because it:
• Leverages the marketing clout, assets, intelligence and connections of organizations from different sectors
• Focuses on doing good, and the public responds very well to organizations doing good
• Motivates your employees, customers and all stakeholders of your organization
• Attracts media attention…for free!
• Generates sales and raises donations
• Delivers what one organization can’t possibly do alone

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good.


How to make Cause Marketing work for your organization

April 2, 2014

Part 13 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

6. Cause marketing Definition

Cause marketing is a specialized subset of cross-sector partnerships, and like all cross-sector partnerships, cause marketing is a partnership between two or more sectors. Though in cause marketing, the partnership is primarily between nonprofit and for-profit organizations and is primarily about marketing, sales, fund development and increasing brand awareness. Cause marketing has grown by leaps and bounds, and in 2013 an estimated $1.78 billion was spent in North America alone on cause marketing campaigns.

Cause marketing is a marketing campaign with specific strategic goals and objectives. It is not an event, sponsorship or one-time project and certainly not philanthropy. You will find as we explore further into this area that a well-strategized and well-developed cause marketing campaign will bring you many of the benefits we have discussed in cross-sector partnerships.

While there are many definitions of cause marketing, the following is how I prefer to define it:
Cause marketing is a partnership between two or more nonprofit and for-profit organizations whereby each party receives benefit toward their individual marketing objectives, while striving through their combined resources to create a greater good.

Let’s break this definition down to see why this particular description is a bit more comprehensive, and possibly more demanding among others available, yet touches upon the foundational elements of highly successful cause marketing campaigns.

Partnership: Going into the partnership, both sides should come together as equals. This equality is necessary for a fair, trusting and successful working partnership. Without this trust, without this focus on true partnership, your campaign is dead in the water before it’s launched.

Two or more: In most cases, a cause marketing partnership is between two partners, but as we have seen, sometimes partnerships can have three and even four sectors involved. And sometimes, even multiple partners within sectors. Bringing multiple partners together can leverage the success of the marketing objectives. So don’t limit your partner opportunity thinking. More may be better, or maybe not, based on your marketing strategy and campaign needs.

Individual marketing objectives: All sides may be approaching this partnership with very different marketing objectives and internal agendas. This is to be expected. Having clear communication and understanding about these separate agendas and objectives and then working toward the benefit of all partners will greatly enhance the overall success of your cause marketing campaign.

Combined resources: Possibly more than in any other marketing or promotional endeavor, the successful execution of your cause marketing strategy and resulting campaign creates a whole far greater than the sum of its individual parts. You just can’t possibly accomplish alone what you can do working together for your mutual success.

Create a greater good: This is the part of my definition that seems to be left out in every other definition I’ve ever seen. However it is this focus on the greater good that sets the foundation for your successful campaign. Focusing on the greater good is the key ingredient that will motivate all partners and stakeholders involved in your campaign. The greatest impact, the real magic, comes when your campaign focuses on the people, issues or environment that will benefit from the campaign:
• Those whose lives will be saved because they are now prepared for an emergency
• The women and men in the future who will not get breast cancer because of the research you are helping to fund
• The homeless who will be given shelter
• The children who will be saved from starvation
• Addressing serious environmental situations

This is the greater good. You can address any nonprofit’s cause, but to be optimally successful, you must focus on who or what will benefit from your effort. Nonprofits as such are not causes in and of themselves, but facilitators that bring much-needed services and support to the cause, which of course, is the people, environment or social issues themselves…the greater good.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good


True sustainability comes through creating multiple links between organizations

March 13, 2014

Part 10 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Imagine two pieces of leather connected by one simple thread. You hold one piece and your friend holds the other. Now imagine that you both pull on the separate pieces of leather. The thread breaks very easily. Now imagine the two pieces of leather are connected by three threads. You pull again. You feel a brief bit of resistance from the three threads, but still they break without much effort. Now imagine that there are 10 threads connecting the two pieces of leather. Now pull, pull hard. With quite a bit of effort you might be able to break a few of the threads, but probably not all 10. In any case, the resistance was strong, the bond of the 10 threads held firmly.

And so it is with cross-sector partnerships. When the relationship consists of only one linkage between the organizations, let’s say the for-profit organization buys tickets to a nonprofit’s annual fundraising dinner, that link (or thread) can easily be broken. For example, no one from the for-profit organization may actually go to the dinner but it wanted to show their support for the nonprofit’s mission. There was no bond, no real relationship. Now imagine that there are three links between the for-profit and the nonprofit – the for-profit organization bought the fundraising dinner tickets, had donated some used computer equipment to the nonprofit and some of their employees spent a Saturday painting the nonprofit’s dining room where they provide free meals to the homeless. Now there is a pretty strong relationship with these three linkages between the organizations. Each year when the for-profit reviews their community relationships and contribution strategy, they will look favorably upon this nonprofit organization where they have developed three good links.

Now imagine the two organizations have developed 5, 6 maybe even up to 10 linkages. Now imagine trying to pull these two organizations apart. It’s very difficult, indeed darn near impossible, to break apart such a strong, binding relationship.

I use this example for two reasons. When multiple linkages are developed between the for-profit and nonprofit organization, a very strong bond and relationship is established over the years. This nonprofit organization is uppermost in the for-profit’s contribution strategy. Their employees are volunteering time to serve that nonprofit and their organization is receiving the benefit of higher morale and employment retention because of the satisfaction they receive from working in the community on their company’s behalf. Going down the list of potential linkages, the individual partners realize that many if not all of those involved in their organization have become engaged in this relationship, and all are benefiting from it. So much good is coming from this relationship, from these linkages and benefits.

The second reason I give this example is what happens in challenging economic times. When a down economy may cause a for-profit company to struggle, they will look to areas where they can decrease their expenses, and naturally, one of the areas they will analyze is their corporate philanthropy and their nonprofit relationships. If their management, community relations department or foundation decides to reduce their annual contributions by say 10%, who will they cut out of their nonprofit funding or partnership plan? Yes, the easiest to come off the list are those organizations where they have the fewest linkages. While these nonprofits may be doing good work in the community and the company likes supporting them, the bond between the nonprofit organizations and the company is rather weak.

Now just try to recommend pulling funding and company support away from the organization with whom the company has spent many years developing a close and strong partnership relationship, and where they have 5, 6, or maybe 10 linkages. One of the company’s senior managers is probably sitting on the Board of Directors of that nonprofit organization, and they certainly are going to object. The company’s employees who feel great pride in their commitment and volunteerism to that nonprofit will not want to see any change. The media coverage that the company has received from the relationship would stop and they don’t want to see that happen. There is a long list of reasons why the for-profit will not want to sever ties with organizations where they have developed such strong linkages.

This is also a very clear message to nonprofit organizations. In difficult economic times, the companies that have the strongest linkages and partnerships with a nonprofit will, to the extent that they can, fight hard to continue to keep that partnership going. They have too much to lose and will receive too much resistance from their employees and all those involved with their organization. In most cases, they will look to lessen or possibly terminate their relationships/ funding with other nonprofit organizations with whom they have fewer linkages and a weaker relationship. Don’t be on that list.

Nonprofit, for-profit, education or government sector – it doesn’t matter. The more threads, the more benefits developed between the organizations through cross-sector partnerships, the stronger and more lasting the relationship becomes, and the benefits to all partners and their stakeholders continue to grow.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information and to view Win-Win for the Greater Good.


How cross-sector partnerships built the first after-school program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

February 25, 2014

Part 7

Tenderloin Children's Jungle Gym
(Photograph by Nita Winter)

Leadership San Francisco is a year-long program sponsored by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce that promotes civic engagement, made up of participants from the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors. Our forty-member class spent a day experiencing the crime-ridden San Francisco district known as The Tenderloin. Besides the proliferation of adult bookstores, strip clubs, bars and a significant amount of homeless people milling around the filthy streets, what struck us was the number of young children we saw using these streets, sidewalks and storefronts as their playground.

Motivated to do something, a couple members of our class met with San Francisco School Superintendent Ramon Cortines. He advised that “the most pressing need for these inner-city children was a safe, quiet, creative place to go after school.” We then approached Brother Kelly Cullen, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), a non-profit provider of low income housing, which owned a building on Eddy Street, dead center in The Tenderloin. Leasing a portion of the first floor of this building was Connie’s Bar, a seedy, prostitute-laden establishment with the sign posted prominently on the front door “No one under 21 allowed.”

I proposed to our class that we take over Connie’s Bar and turn it into a free educational, recreational and cultural center for the children of The Tenderloin. It was an idea so large and so ripe with challenge that it took nearly 5 meetings for our class to agree that we just had to do this. As the loudest proponent of this outrageous idea, I was chosen to spearhead the endeavor.

First we formed a partnership between Leadership San Francisco and TNDC. Seeking a prominent leader of the San Francisco business community, we enticed Holger Gantz, general manager of the Hilton Hotel and Towers, which bordered upon The Tenderloin to join our partnership. Holger enthusiastically led the fundraising drive which attracted Pacific Telesis, Koret Foundation, Gap, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, PG&E and many others. Additional members of the hospitality and construction industries and members of the general community rushed to join the effort. Together we did what no one thought was possible – in one year we raised over $200,000, secured the lease on Connie’s Bar, completely renovated the space, built a small children’s library, computer room, director’s office and play room. On July 13, 1993 the Tenderloin After-School Program opened.

Along the way, an astonishing level of media coverage and diverse public support was received – all on a volunteer basis. An editorial in the San Francisco Examiner summed it up nicely: “In the real world…progress, if any, is measured inch by inch through gauntlets of frustration, bureaucracy, broken promises and, of course, lack of money. So let’s congratulate the enthusiastic people of Leadership San Francisco ’92…and all who made this dream come true.”

President Bill Clinton, Senator Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan and many others wrote letters of commendation. President Clinton wrote, “These kinds of bold initiatives require a partnership between business community resources and local nonprofit experience.”

And today, rather than using peep show signs as their jungle gym, the children of the Tenderloin have a clean, safe place to go after school. That’s the very great news.

TASP B&W
(Photo courtesy of Tenderloin After-School Program)

Perhaps the biggest challenge for this project was bringing together a highly diverse partnership team. The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation owned the building that housed Connie’s Bar but was unable to provide further financial support. The Leadership San Francisco class of 1992 was a small volunteer group of young men and women who could work hard but who also lacked the financial wherewithal to undertake such a costly project. The low-income community surrounding the proposed after-school program strongly favored the opportunity to provide a safe, off-the-streets place for their children, but could not financially support the project.

The challenges of the Tenderloin After-School Program point out that there are often distinct differences between the business practices, philosophy and personalities of each person and each sector. Indeed, organizations and individuals coming together will have personal agendas that they bring to the partnership. These personal agendas can sometimes be negative. However, in most cases, addressing and respecting individual agendas and objectives can be quite positive for the partnership.

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information.


What other organizations are saying about yours

February 21, 2014

Part 6:

Each sector of nonprofit, for-profit, education or government has attributes, policies, missions and business practices which vary somewhat to significantly from those of the other sectors. In the development of cross-sector partnerships, this can be both a blessing and a challenge. Experience shows, however, that the benefits of cross-sector partnerships far outweigh whatever obstacles or challenges may arise.

For the past three years, our firm has issued The Burtch Report, a survey of primarily small to midsize nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Included in the survey is the question: “What misconceptions do you feel the for-profit community has about the nonprofit community?” And of the for-profit organizations, “What misconceptions do you feel the nonprofit community has about the for-profit community?” The results over the past three years show that in far too many cases nonprofits and for-profits don’t understand each other’s business models or philosophies, or how to work with each other effectively.

Challenges aside, these responses also speak the truth and thus provide pathways for better understanding and for the successful development of partnerships.
Here is a small sampling from The Burtch Report:

What Nonprofits say about For-Profits

• The biggest challenge is helping the for-profit understand the value of non-profits and how they can think outside the box to create a true partnership.
• For-profits have difficulty in understanding the full cost associated with delivery of nonprofit’s obligation in partnerships.
• Making contact (and a connection) with the person(s) who has the ability to determine whether or not to support our organization in one form or another is often very challenging.
• Unrealistic expectations of results: their ROI (return on investment) expectations are too high.
• Short-changing necessary operating costs, such as insisting all funds go to program/ direct service, leaving no money for execution
• All they want to do is use my logo and reputation to sell more products.
• I don’t trust that they really believe in our cause.
• We need their money, but we could lose our reputation.
• They’re really not interested in helping us develop our services or grow our volunteer base.
• Different understandings of the value of our work; For-profits are trying to fit our work into their marketing objectives instead of looking at the partnership as equal parts nonprofit mission and for-profit marketing.

What For-Profits say about Nonprofits

• They think their logo is worth far more than it really is in the marketplace.
• They move far too slowly to match our business style and aggressive marketing plans.
• Everything has to be decided by a committee. Where is the leadership there?
• They put up so many obstacles, especially saying that doing such and such could harm their reputation.
• Wouldn’t it be easier to do something on our own than to complicate things by working with a nonprofit organization?
• Let’s face it – the smartest people don’t go work for nonprofits…there’s no money in it.
• They just don’t know how to run a business.
• They have a different culture and value sets.
• They lack clarity as to most important outcomes they are committed to achieving.
• Lack of resources, lack of innovation, minimal accountability

These quotes speak volumes about how far apart the relationship can be at the start. Yet these challenges can be overcome because your common goals and opportunities are great. It simply boils down to beginning with an open mind, developing clear communication and above all, being totally honest about your organization’s objectives, needs and limitations

Karen Baker, California Secretary of Service and Volunteering, said “Some of the nuances in the private and nonprofit sector can make (partnerships) challenging. For example, it is tough for nonprofits to understand the private sector – their interests, their challenges, and their language. The same is true of the private sector fully understanding the nonprofit world. In order to have mutually beneficial partnerships, it is critical to have an honest understanding of what each party is seeking out of the relationship. Open dialogue and communication at the onset of a partnership is so critical, and often times, that is what is missing.”

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information.


Take your organization from good to great!

February 14, 2014

Good to great B&W

Part 4

In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he described a “great” company as one company whose financial performance achieved several multiples better than the stock market average over a sustained period. He also attributed the main factor for achieving this greatness as having a company focus its resources on its particular field of competence. Much has changed since this was published in 2001, especially the fast rising tide of consumer concern, and in some cases, demand for the business community to be more focused on sustainability, being good citizens, and giving back to their communities.

In Good to Great, Collins identifies 11 companies (Gillette, Kroger, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, Phillip Morris and others) he felt had made this transition from good to great. The standard he used was that these companies had either met or underperformed the stock market for a 15 year period and then transitioned to providing returns of at least three times that of the stock market over the subsequent period.

In Firms of Endearment published in 2007, authors Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth and David B. Wolfe, challenged the more traditional capitalistic understanding as to what is seen as being a successful business. Their book promotes the need for a “new capitalism of caring” with its focus that all stakeholders must be equally valued. This approach mirrored my own beliefs and experience that there was a much better way for corporations to benefit everyone involved with their organization, both internally and externally, and not just their shareholders.

The authors of Firms of Endearment took a very different path in their analysis. Their research sought out companies that strived to “endear” themselves to all their stakeholder groups -customers, employees, partners, communities, and shareholders. They looked for companies that aligned the interests of all stakeholders in such a way that no stakeholder group gains at the expense of other stakeholder groups. The companies they selected included Amazon, BMW, Container Store, eBay, Google, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Whole Foods and others.

When the authors of Firms of Endearment completed their analysis of just the one category of stock market performance and the return to investors during the period of 1996 to 2006 (the primary focus of Good to Great, they found that:

1) Over a 10-year horizon, Firms of Endearment companies outperformed the Good to Great companies by 1026 percent to 331 percent (a 3.1 to 1 ratio).
2) Over five years, Firms of Endearment companies outperformed Good to Great companies by 128 percent to 77 percent (a 1.7 to 1 ratio).
3) Over three years, Firms of Endearment companies performed on par with Good to Great companies 73% to 75%.

By focusing on the benefits to all stakeholders, the Firms of Endearment companies met, or in the five and 10 year periods, greatly outperformed companies that focused primarily on stock performance and return to investors. This message cannot be emphasized enough. The authors summed up this comparison by saying that they had a “seismic disagreement” with Good to Great when it comes to defining what is “great.” They concluded, “To us, a great company is one that makes the world a better place because it exists, not simply a company that outperforms the market by a certain percentage over a certain period of time.”

Please visit http://www.bruceburtch.com for more information

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