Cheaper is Better Thinking is Killing Us

There’s a lot of buzz lately about how nonprofits and their consulting partners and suppliers get along. It’s a great conversation and I want to keep it going. I urge you to read an interview conducted by Ken Burnett with Mark Astarita, Director of Fundraising at the British Red Cross and showcased on sofii, along with a recent blog post from my pal Roger Craver at the Agitator

Both of these articles underscore the value of building long-term relationships with suppliers and consulting partners to make your fundraising program stronger.  It’s time for our sector to take a hard look at the “cheaper is better” mentality that is not serving us well or helping us truly solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The British Red Cross paid to send two of their best face-to-face solicitors from their independent commercial supplier on a trip to Bangladesh to see BRC’s work with poor and marginalized people first hand.  Many board members and CFOs might scoff at the idea. But according to Astarita, “Our greatest selling point is the work we do. And seeing it for themselves changed these guys’ lives forever. Now they truly appreciate why what they do for us really matters. Through initiatives like this we get 100 per cent from our agencies.”

Amen.  We must never forget that passion is a huge driver in fundraising.  We all should do more to instill passion in those companies that support us. If you’re working with someone who’s only in it for the money, then you’re working with the wrong partner.

It’s also important to note though that once you have dedicated partners, you shouldn’t take advantage of their commitment to your cause by squeezing them on price at every opportunity. As Roger points out, “The tragedy of the Turnip-Squeezers is the harm they do to their own nonprofits. By focusing on pressing out pennies on price they’ve lost sight of what really matters — increasing net income and value.”

The key to success in your fundraising program and to solving some of the world’s greatest challenges—is treating your suppliers, writers and consultants like they true partners that they are.

Thanks to Ken, Mark and Roger for getting this conversation started. Let’s keep it going.  Please share your thoughts with us.


– Posted by Kathy Swayze, CFRE




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