Leveraging good will from your board

In light of our current Page to Practice feature, The Search for Social Entrepreneurship and its exploration of nonprofits activities as they relate to business practices, we thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit our interview with Alice Korngold, author of Leveraging Good Will.

Korngold is a national consultant who has worked with hundreds of businesses and nonprofit organizations. She is the former chief founding executive, president and CEO of Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU), a national program that trains and places business professionals and executives on nonprofit boards of directors.

CausePlanet: As nonprofit leaders and board members, our readers know it’s important for businesses to partner with nonprofits and vice versa—how would you build on this case for support?

Korngold: The first step for a business is to create a philanthropy, service, and leadership strategy that aligns with their corporate mission and strategy; then, choose nonprofits that will be good partners as follows:

Companies can communicate key messages about their company and its brand by the nonprofits and causes it chooses to invest in (like a publishing company funding literacy, for example).
By involving employees in volunteerism, companies build teamwork and show support for their employees, while also improving the community.
By encouraging and supporting the involvement of executives on nonprofit boards, companies foster leadership development.

In all these ways, companies improve the communities where their employees and customers live and work, and build good will.

Nonprofits benefit by engaging businesses by:

Accessing individuals with valuable expertise for their boards of directors and in providing useful pro-bono management consulting assistance; and
Accessing financial resources through sponsorships, contributions, and donated services (free printing, for example).

Most importantly, the community benefits when experienced businesspeople are involved in advancing nonprofits that provide vital health and human services, education, arts and culture, and environmental protection and conservation.

CausePlanet: In what ways can business executives be most helpful to nonprofits?

Business executives can be most helpful to nonprofits by lending valuable business expertise. Given that nonprofits must be more strategic in addressing new and greater financial challenges, businesspeople bring useful skills in market assessment, strategic decision making, organizational development, revenue models, public relations and advocacy, finance and investments, information technology, and measurement.

It is especially important for business executives who join boards to engage with the board in envisioning the organization’s greater potential; articulating the case for the organization and its compelling value; keeping the organization focused where it can have the greatest impact in achieving its mission in serving the community; helping to ensure there is a viable revenue model and maximize resources; helping to generate new and additional sources of revenue; and helping the organization to achieve more on behalf of the community.

Korngold: Can nonprofit executives also be helpful to businesses? How?

Yes! Nonprofit executives are highly knowledgeable about their communities. They usually have a breadth and depth of knowledge of the community, its needs, key issues, the pros and cons of various solutions to core issues. They also keep close track of the key players and who is effective for what purpose. Many of them know how to get things done in the community.

CausePlanet: What’s the best way nonprofit leaders can differentiate themselves from other nonprofit opportunities that are presented to a corporation?

Korngold: A nonprofit can distinguish itself in making its case to a corporation for support by researching the company, its mission, challenges, and key strategic goals, and then offering ways for the nonprofit to be valuable as a partner. That is, what positive message will the business get to align with? How can employees engage in productive and rewarding volunteer experiences that meet the nonprofit clients’ needs and also meet employees’ realistic schedules and interests? How can executives support the nonprofit through board service and/or management assistance (contributing expertise in marketing, public relations, human resources, and so on)? If the company makes a significant donation, how will the company be recognized in a way that will resonate in the community? Best of all, can this all be packaged in a nice, cohesive program—under a theme, a partnership concept, something inspiring and wonderful? And even better, can the nonprofit tell the company how this will make the community better, i.e. how many more children will advance from elementary school to middle school because of this company’s involvement, or how many children will learn to read, or how many babies will be rescued and sheltered in the next year because of the company partnership? Results! Outcomes! Making the world a better place!

Read the full summary of Leveraging Good Will by subscribing to Page to Practice™ book summaries. Or, purchase this or one of our other Page to Practice™ executive summaries by visiting the CausePlanet summary store.

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