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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Crafting a Successful Third Generation Nonprofit-Business Relationship

Working as a nonprofit professional in the current economic environment can be challenging — and sometimes discouraging. Savvy nonprofits will fulfill their organization's mission by diversifying their income stream. One way they do this is by building mutually beneficial relationships with businesses that are also interested in positively impacting local communities. Such a relationship can be very profitable, both in terms of financial support and social gain. But in crafting successful nonprofit-business relationships, many nonprofit professionals find themselves in murky waters.

So, how can a nonprofit organization best go about building and sustaining those relationships? Moreover, what type of relationships and outcomes do businesses really want from partnering with nonprofit organizations?

Recently, I interviewed the facilitators of "Third Generation: Nonprofit | Business | Relationships | Evolved," a special three-hour workshop hosted by the National Bank of Arizona and organized by the ASU Lodestar Center. These experienced business and nonprofit professionals are committed to evolving the way nonprofit and for-profit organizations work together for good, and they were happy to give me a taste of what to expect from the workshop. Here's a bit of what they had to say:

What are the main reasons your business seeks relationships with nonprofit organizations?


Karen Fisch, SRP: We seek relationships with nonprofit organizations to make a positive impact on our communities where we operate and where our customers, water shareholders, and employees live and work.
Angie Harmon, Freeport-McMoRan: Strong nonprofits are essential to the viability and sustainability of communities. Since our goal is to partner with communities to build long-term capacity, it's essential that these partnerships include nonprofit organizations.
Jathan Segur, National Bank of Arizona: We support nonprofit organizations whose missions enhance the health, educational, economic, and cultural well being of Arizona citizens and communities. We are committed to improving Arizona through our nonprofit advisory council, dedicated programs, employee volunteerism, and generous contributions.


What motivated you to participate in this workshop about Third Generation Nonprofit-Business Relationships?


Angie: The concept of Third Generation relationships is directly tied to Freeport's overall social investment strategy and was a natural fit for us to participate in the event.
Jathan: We want all of our nonprofit partners and community advocates working towards a common goal: improving the lives of Arizonans. The concepts relayed in the Third Generation Workshop help put both funders and nonprofits on the same page. It's really about developing strong, long-term relationships that provide real benefits for all parties.
Karen: I was motivated to participate in this workshop because I wanted to share what I've learned over my two decades working in this field. It gives me the opportunity to impart what might help someone else be successful. Also, the caliber of other workshop facilitators was definitely a plus!


How did the handbook participants will be receiving come about?


Alison Rapping, Alison & Associates: The handbook — which consists of information, resources, and inventories or processes for nonprofit professionals to engage in as they work to develop business relationships — originated from years of practice, trial and error, and "a-ha!" moments of working in nonprofit-business partnerships at the most grassroots level. It's not an original work, but is work I've compiled from many brilliant minds whose thought leadership, innovation, creative thinking, and written work has motivated and inspired me.

I hope you have a chance to attend the workshop so we can work together to increase the opportunities for and improve the quality of nonprofit-business relationships throughout Arizona. And don't forget to join us on Twitter (@ASULodestar) for a backchannel discussion (#3rdgen) during the event. I'll see you there!

Click here to register for the $30 Third Generation workshop, held on Friday, June 17 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the National Bank of Arizona in Phoenix. Registration closes on Wednesday, June 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Interested in learning more about commercialization within the nonprofit sector? Click here to read Dr. Mark Hager's analysis of current research on this topic.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog