Taking a peek behind the corporate veil

Last week I had the honor and privilege of organizing and facilitating a general session at a Boys & Girls Club conference in Milwaukee. The title of the session was “Corporate Leaders & Philanthropy”.  For approximately an hour, conference attendees got an opportunity to take a peek behind the corporate curtain.

Serving on that panel was:

  • Craig Omtvedt, Senior VP & Chief Operating Officer of Fortune Brands
  • Paul Jones, Chairman & CEO of A.O. Smith
  • Matthew Levatich, President & Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company

I am extremely appreciative to these gentlemen for taking time out of their very busy schedules for serving on our panel and answering questions about cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. I cannot tell you how many non-profit leaders ask me questions about what they should do to become more effective at engaging corporations. So, last week’s session was a tremendous gift to the non-profit leaders in the Boys & Girls Club movement.

After taking the panel through four set questions, I invited the audience to submit their questions on paper. While I was able to get through another eight questions generated from the field, there were a ton of other written questions that I just couldn’t get around to asking due to time constraints. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity with today’s blog post to list some of those unasked questions and invite subscribers (aka YOU) and anyone else who views this blog via social media networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc) to weigh-in with their thoughts using the comment box located at the bottom of your screen.

Here are some of the remaining questions that I wish I had time to ask and hope you want to comment on:

  • What gestures have [non-profit] organizations made beyond outcome measurements that have [intrigued] your company to invest in them?
  • What can [our organization] do to distinguish itself from all the other charities out there in regards to requesting or receiving your support?
  • Given the current economic trends, how do you determine if you are able to sustain the same level of philanthropic support? What impacts that decision? What should non-profits know?
  • When reviewing requests [for funding] and you come to the organization’s financial statements, what do you look for? What turns you off? If [the financials] reflect that an organization is running or budgeted a deficit, is there anything the agency can do to engage that company in a strategy for pulling out of a deficit situation? Or is it a lost cause?
  • What are some of the key factors that you consider when deciding to continue funding to a particular organization?
  • What do you want non-profit organizations to stop doing in their approach that is ineffective or irritating to you as a funder?

I still have a pile of additional questions, but I’m running out of room. My thanks to those who took time to submit a question.

Regardless of whether you are a donor or a non-profit leader, please take a moment to process these questions and weigh-in with your thoughts. We can all learn from each other. You will find the comment box below if you scroll down.

I will leave you with some YouTube links I found when researching and preparing to facilitate this session. I included one or two of these links in my blog post on Wednesday titled “Corporate Philanthropy: He loves me — He loves me NOT“. But there are new videos that I’m also including. Enjoy and please take a moment to post a comment on this subject.

If you are a non-profit leader who still has a lot of questions about what happens behind the corporate veil, then why not pick-up the phone, set an appointment with a corporate leader in your community, and go ask those questions?  Engaging donors doesn’t start with a solicitation . . . it begins with asking questions and listening to their answers.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on October 14, 2011, in Fundraising, resource development and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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