Finding the right marriage of business and non-profits

Upcoming workshop offers tools on how to find best fit with a charitable partner.

How often is your business approached by a non-profit group for support?

How do you find a gracious way to say no, and how do you find organizations that are a good fit for charitable support?

How do you determine what impact your contributions have on your business, the non-profit and those it serves

Those questions form the basis for the Business and Community Partnership Project, launched last year by Kelowna Community Resources.

The concept was to provide a forum where business and non-profit participants could provide the tools for seeking a better strategic and efficient marriage between donor and recipient.

Participants in last year’s inaugural session realized a number of benefits—more focused approach to their community support initiatives, ability to recognize which potential partners are a good fit, greater impact of contributions and a deeper engagement from staff.

A participant in last year’s program, Sherri Beauregard from the Bulk Barn, said: “It gave me the tools I need to understand how important our role is to help create a stronger community through focused support and by matching to a community program that fits our company’s beliefs and strengths.

“As you can imagine, we get 30 to 40 requests every year to help different organizations and as a new business, we can’t help everyone. The program got us focused on how to involve our entire staff, focused on our strengths and who we wanted to help an in turn created a stronger bond with all our employees while helping others.”

Sue Marzuik, with Kelowna Community Resources, said 10 businesses and 10 non-profits took part in last year’s pilot project and she would like to see double that take part at the next half-day workshop planned for Nov. 15.

Marzuik said consumers are inceasingly putting pressure on companies to share their values and be aligned with charitable efforts in order to attract their spending dollars.

That in turn leaves businesses, she says, faced with determining how and why a non-profit entity should receive their support.  “For most companies, there are certain non-profits that are a good fit and others that are not. The sames goes for non-profits.”

She cites two examples where companies aligned themselves with non-profit entities with mixed results.

On the negative side, in 2010 the Susan G. Komen Foundation paired with the fast food restaurant chain KFC to offer “Buckets for the Cure,” a promotion in which fried and grilled chicken was sold in pink branded buckets as fundraiser for breast cancer research. However, the collaboration generated widespread criticism, despite raising $4.2 million, because it promoted unhealthy eating habits and obesity, and obesity itself contributes to breast cancer

On the positive side, Tim Hortons engaged in a corporate relationship to support minor hockey, bolstered by the use of spokesperson NHL superstar Sidney Crosby, who himself was part of the Tidbits minor hockey program as a five-year-old.

Marziuk added that while philanthropy tends to be the focus of any marriage between a business and a non-profit, it’s not always about money. “I think sometimes for  a business it’s about getting your staff behind something everyone can feel positive about, and for the non-profits sometimes access to that kind of manpower or expertise is equally important to a money donation.”

For more information about the workshop and how to register, contact Sue Marzuik at 250-808-0826, email or go to

Kelowna Capital News

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