When I started my marketing company five years ago (wow time’s flying…), even though my initial business plan didn’t consider nonprofit causes, I was certain our creativity and knowledge of the Hispanic business market would set us apart and make my team and me wealthy.
No, we’re not wealthy yet, but sure we’ve made money. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to be part of a business that I could build and call my legacy. I quickly realized that profit alone would never stand the erosion of time (the very essence of legacy). So I concluded that we would do more within the community and set out to share a percentage of our profits with nonprofits specifically working with direly poor neighborhoods. Eventually we figured a way to make a few nonprofits the basis for our campaigns and that grew our contributions exponentially. I mean, it’s one thing for us to give to a cause, it’s quite another to have a room of CEOs and politicos open their wallets at a networking event to donate.
There’s a “but” coming… Over the last two or three years we’ve raised a good chunk of cash, I sit on the planning committee for a growing nonprofit, and we’ve created partnerships that will allow us to grow our contributions. HOWEVER, I am convinced that in order for us to make a difference in the world it’s going to take millions of dollars and a new approach — one that engages hundreds if not thousands of businesses and communities. But how?
After attempting to engage my philanthropic friends behind all of the many ideas (even the ridiculous ones), I’ve decided to go directly to a source – chambers of commerce and business associations. After all, they work with companies seeking new ideas for growth, right? They come in contact with hundreds of entrepreneurs who could be working a job, but who instead want to do more. Well, we think we’ve come up with a great idea to help both.
Starting this year, we are proving business organizations with day-to-day management services. While these 501c6 and c3 Presidents and Executive Directors are…well…directing, we will execute on their plans seamlessly and without missing a beat. Because we are NOT staff and only get paid when we work, we are lowering their over-head costs, and making them far more effective and efficient.
So what does this have to do with the tea in China? Our goal is to develop membership benefits that give business organizations enough meat to grow their membership base, while at the same time create value for members to grow their companies. All of which is based around supporting community causes. This means that instead of donating, small business owners will find themselves investing in nonprofits as a way to grow their companies.
I’m happy to say this idea rolled out in September 2009, and thus far we have 10 clients, including the very prominent CA Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the powerful Mexican American Bar Association (MABA). We broke-even in 90 days, we hired a full-time manager in July, and it looks like we’ll need a part-timer very soon. More importantly, this way of doing business is in line with my personal legacy and profit goals.
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