How To Do Business with Non-Profits


From time to time, businesses may find it to their advantage to conduct business with a non-profit agency. And although there are some similarities between for-profits and non-profits, there are several notable differences between the two.

Mission and Values

It’s important to know that most individuals who work with, manage, or operate a non-profit have a passion for the agency’s mission. It is usually something they have been thinking about for the better part of their life. And, at some point, the opportunity arose for them to join an organization to bring their passion to life on a day-to-day level. When you present a proposal, make sure that you fully understand the agency’s mission and values.

Volunteers vs Full-time Staff

Depending on the agency, the individuals who work at or with the agency are full-time employees or volunteers. Like all business entities that work with volunteers, one cannot always rely on them to fulfil their promises, through no fault of their own. They may have all the good intentions in the world of helping with a particular project, but something may come up in their personal life that they cannot possibly ignore. And the agency’s event will have to take a back-seat.

Business Practices

Another thing to consider is that many folks who work at, manage, or operate a non-profit agency do not come from the business world. They may be totally unfamiliar with the business culture and business practices, like marketing, branding, etc. There are more than a few executive directors of non-profit agencies who come from a business background where marketing, budgeting and staff management are second nature to them. It should also be noted here that many of the individuals who work at non-profit agencies are women who work hard to fulfil the agency’s missions and goals.

Cash Strapped

In this time of economic uncertainty, many non-profit agencies have come and gone. When families are questioning their economic future, contributions to non-profits decline measurably. As a result, many are forced to close their doors. Those that survive must watch their dollars scrupulously.

Do your Homework

Non-profit agencies are accustomed to creating proposals for funding and development. They may also be restricted in what services they can provide as a result of their funding. So, if a business is interested in working in collaboration with a non-profit agency, it should conduct research and create a proposal that addresses the criteria and mission of the non-profit. The more detailed the research and the proposal, the better.

And, finally, it is important to know that all non-profits are under the direction of a board of directors. Some boards give their executive directors a lot of space to make decisions without their approval. In other words, if a business approaches a non-profit agency with a proposal, the executive director may be able to make a decision without having to go before the board and presenting it. Other non-profit agency executive directors may have to gain the board’s approval before a decision is made. Because of this, it is sometimes vital for a business to be aware of the decision-making process before a proposal is presented.