Ask the Experts: Vendor/Client Relationships
I guess my question is, where do the standards of right and wrong fall here? Is it ethical, what was done and the way it was done?
Our experts respond:
This is an amazing story. I can’t but believe there may be more to it than meets the eye.
I have no quarrel with the nonprofit making the request on relatively short notice. Oftentimes, a special event is not planned far enough in advance to get the request in by a deadline.
But on the face of it, I’d say good riddance. How hard does one have to work to meet the needs of a bad customer?
For the nonprofit to end the relationship on these terms means the VP didn’t value the relationship anyway, and it was likely about to end. The DM company saved 1,500 bucks.
And if I wanted to be a smartass about it, I would compute the value of the revolving loan based on late payments and write back and suggest that I’d be willing to donate the value of the loan as an ‘in kind’ service.
— Thomas W. Hurley, partner/president, Non-Profit Group, DMW Worldwide
The ethics side of this issue isn’t my turf, but the communication side is. My feeling is that, from the nonprofit’s point of view, this was a real failure to communicate effectively. Despite the ease of e-mail and other (often faster) ways of communicating, we always counsel nonprofits to communicate bad news of any kind by voice. This nonprofit should have called, requested a meeting and expressed their appreciation of the corporation’s past support. Then they should talk about the level of commitment they’ve experienced previously from the corp. and others, and discussed why the giving was cut.
Ideally, they want to up the gift now or in the future — and that only happens by learning and building understanding. If they chastise a supporter, they’re only going to alienate them and reduce the likelihood of future support.
— Sarah Durham, principal, Big Duck