Gerding: Pilot project helps non profits understand how business works

The pressure that non profit groups are facing in delivering services is being felt by the rest of us.

The pressure that non profit groups are facing in delivering services is being felt by the rest of us.

For every multi-million donation such as the one received last week by the B.C. Cancer Foundation, there are hundreds of applications for help that fall on perhaps sympathetic but still deaf ears.

Every need has its place, every need can help someone, but not every need championed by a non profit entity is guaranteed fiscal security.

Government funding cutbacks in recent years has forced the non profit sector to seek alternative funding sources from both the business community and charitable donors.

My mom tells me that she is endlessly frustrated by the inundation of requests for money from non profit groups. At one point, she started to make a list of all the groups that hit on her and my dad for money, and she stopped the list at about 10, having proven a point to herself.

Other than helping her kids—the most important non profit entities in her universe—she gives money to B.C. Children’s Hospital because the staff there saved the life of my daughter/her first grandchild after her premature birth, and the ALS Society because my cousin had that disease take her life way too soon.

Otherwise, she wished she wasn’t subjected to the constant pressure to give money to charitable causes.

On the flip side, local businesses have long ago realized the brand potential for supporting non profits.

Once the challenge of determining which worthy charitable entity best meets their business or corporate demographic branding, they step up to the plate.

In either case, that doesn’t make it easier for non profits to find new funding providers now that Ottawa and Victoria aren’t listening anymore.

These groups have to do their homework and make well thought out pitches for fiscal support, a task that often falls on volunteers or an over-stretched single employee to assemble. So more often than not, that process ends in disappointment rather than elation.

It is under that kind of challenge that Kelowna Community Resources enlisted a pilot project this spring, involving the participation of nine businesses and nine non profits to learn from each other about their respective needs, and how to communicate that effectively to one another.

Last week, representatives from the nine non profit participants took part in an exercise—to make a three-minute funding presentation on behalf of their organizations.

Corporate social responsibility is an often-heard buzz phrase these days, one that means there is money for non profits to seek out.

It is hoped this pilot project, which will wrap up in September, will arrive at some conclusions about the process that will help both non profits and business owners. Because secure funding for non profits will continually be a challenge moving forward.

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