And Now For Something Different

August 18, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | Post a Comment

While we’re typically focused on all things grant-related here at FA, we do our best to stay tuned into the broader community that exists around the grants space. And with those topics top of mind, sometimes the intersections of the nonprofit and funding worlds with our day to day lives provides some interesting fodder for thought. Case in point, a website I stumbled across last week.

There’s a new D.C.-based website called Deals for Deeds which is part Living Social/Groupon and part nonprofit booster. It’s an interesting model, offering discounts on restaurants, clothes and other local services with a percentage of sales going directly to local nonprofit groups.

It’s basically a warm fuzzy all around for shoppers: buy something you want at a discounted price and do something good at the same time. Talk about win/win/win.

And it reminded me of something I heard the other day. Michael Chatman’s radio program The Giving Show focused recently on what businesses and nonprofits can do for each other beyond a basic donor/recipient relationship. (Chatman’s also on Twitter, @michaelchatman)

Chatman and his guest talked about how it’s not just about getting a business to donate money or goods to a nonprofit or charity to support a particular social cause (although those are clearly viable and important relationships as well).

In some cases, there are mutually beneficial ways that a for-profit and a nonprofit entity can work together, and ways for a nonprofit to help a company meet its business goals.

It strikes me as a positive recent trend. There seems to be an increasing willingness in the business community to recognize that there are ways to earn money and do something good for a community, all at the same time.

An increasing number of consumer brands have built social responsibility or charitable giving or nonprofit arms right into their DNA. Social entrepreneurship could be a trendy term du jour but that doesn’t mean that the model isn’t a good one.

It’s an interesting avenue for organizations to consider as funding from federal, state and local governments tightens up. Anecdotally, it sounds like more and more organizations are turning to private foundations to fund their activities.

And that’s all to the good, but what about local businesses? How many organizations have been able to push beyond just the usual in-kind donations to truly partner with a local business? My guess is that number will start to increase, if it hasn’t already.

It’s clearly a topic others in the community are thinking about. The Grants Professional Association’s National Capital Area chapter’s Nov. 3 conference in D.C. will include a session on social entrepreneurship and its relationship to grantseeking and grantseeking entities. We’ll share more details about that as we have them.

What alternative funding streams has or is your organization or agency exploring as funding streams shrink?

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