Conference Roundup: Learning From the Corporate World
Behaving like a business can have some real benefits for nonprofit organizations.
So said Kurt Aschermann, president and COO of Boston-based fundraising consultancy Charity Partners, speaking in the session “The Business of Fundraising: How Does the Influx of Corporate People and Business Models Help or Hurt Nonprofit Fundraising” at the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s 2008 Nonprofit Leadership Summit last week in Palm Beach.
It would be foolish for nonprofits not to begin exploring some of the practices instituted by their corporate partners, he warned.
Aschermann, who previously served as senior vice president and chief marketing and development officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, said the organization reached out to corporations to get ideas on how they operated. BGCA, which is headquartered in Atlanta and has about 4,000 clubs nationwide, is a nonprofit that enables young people, especially those in need, to become productive, responsible citizens.
“We learned a lot from our corporate friends,” Aschermann said.
Among those lessons: that businesses just do some things better, such as hiring professionals, specifically those in marketing and sales.
“You get what you pay for,” Aschermann said, adding that not only do corporations hire the best and the brightest, but they “fire the lousy ones.”
“Nonprofits are not good at that,” Aschermann said. “We carry them, but they do us in every day. But they love the organization [so we keep them on.]”
It’s vital that nonprofits let go of those employees who no longer have a positive impact, he said.
Aschermann did caution that people who come from the private sector have to be educated about nonprofits, their staffs and the way things work, which often is quite different than in the for-profit world.
“People from companies are not used to having no resources,” he said. “They may not understand that you don’t have the resources to spend $1 billion to change (your organization’s) slogan.”