The Perfect Business Partner/Client Relationship
The business partner/client relationship does not have the best reputation. This YouTube video pretty much sums up what the worst relationship can look like from the business-partner perspective. This is not fiction.
On the other hand, "caveat emptor," meaning "buyer beware," is a well-known Latin phrase for a reason.
What does the perfect business partner/client relationship look like? Here’s a story that exemplifies it:
Sometime in the early 2000s, I met an American Cancer Society Relay For Life division director. We were serving Relay for Life across the nation, but this client was different. When I said, "I was thinking about what it would mean if we stopped using trickle-down communications and started communicating recognition offers directly to fundraisers."
My client said, "Well, Katrina, it would mean that we can measure ROI first off. And, it would mean that we could guarantee a consistent experience, No. 2. And it would mean that they would get at least one email that wasn’t asking for money. I like it. Make it so."
"Make it so."
Wow. That was my first experience with a client who was also a powerful and inspiring leader. She acknowledged me. She affirmed me. She set me free to "make it so." She also held me accountable. She made me want to please her, not just get paid.
Did we have bumps getting there? Absolutely. She always gave me room to fix it. Would I do anything to make it right in any scenario? Absolutely. There was trust and openness on both sides of the fence, and that allowed us to do our work together brilliantly. What we created together during that engagement laid the foundation for the work Turnkey does now, continuing to explore the mind of the peer-to-peer fundraiser using the business intelligence that database-captured activities create, and using social science to understand and lend theory so data makes sense.
Recently, this leader left the nonprofit world. This is a huge loss to the industry. I fixed it the only way I knew how. I hired her. If I can apply this kind of leadership to multiple organizations, maybe the loss to the industry is a good thing.
Meet Vickie LoBello, Turnkey’s lead strategist, and one of my most treasured clients.
Otis spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising” and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina also regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.