Australia, Business Strategy, Corporate sponsorship, fundraising, Not for Profit Sector, partnerships, philanthropy, Strategic Planning, Uncategorized

Can $50million ever be a bad thing?


Much has been made of a recent philanthropic gift of $50m to an Australian university to set up a scholarship fund. Quite right, you might say.

The donation secured Graham and Louise Tuckwell the honour of having made the largest philanthropic donation to an Australian university by individuals.

The couple funded 25 scholarships of $20,000 each per annum for up to 5 years.

An interesting question is whether the University would have set up the scholarships without this impressive and very generous donation – ie was the scholarship a strategic or donor driven decision? Many organisations struggle with these questions. Should we accept a large gift which we otherwise would not receive unless we tie the gift to the donor’s specific requirements? It is not suggested that in this case the university in question had this dilemma – but is there ever a time when $50m is a bad thing?

Most not-for-profit organisations can cite examples of where trying to deliver on a donor request in order to secure a large gift has cost them more than if they hadn’t accepted the funds in the first place.

When a business (and non profit or otherwise we are all businesses) tries to deliver solely what is of interest to the donor, time and resources are taken away from other strategic priorities. Staff can become disheartened when they see their core needs being unmet while other ‘less urgent’ projects taking priority.

How do we avoid these situations and put ourselves in the best possible position to accept a generous gift AND improve our capacity to deliver on our core values and deliverables? I would suggest 3 things:

1. Be willing to have a transparent and honest discussion with the potential donor about what will really help your organisation deliver on its mission. What do you really need to move the organisation forward and meet the supporter’s philanthropic objectives?

2. Have a plan around your vision – if you can’t share your strategic vision with potential supporters how can they fund your highest priorities? If you don’t know, neither will they. Create a strategic plan with room for growth – show how you would put their funds to the best possible use.

3. Be willing to say no. Or to be more positive, be willing to say ‘yes’ to the gifts that will push you and your organisation along on its journey. Yes, you must always be flexible and you should know where the line is.

I wish all organisations the very best of luck and good fortune in their fundraising and hope their planning is going well for the next financial year. May another multi-million donation be just around the corner. Make sure you’re ready to say ‘Yes’ to it.

Read more about the donation here at the excellent Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine

Business Strategy, partnerships, Uncategorized, Women in Business

Power and Women

Are you a woman ready to take over the world? If so, now is your time.

In a speech in Peru, Secretary of State to the US Hillary Clinton talked about women and economic growth and states that restrictions on women’s economic participation are costing the world massive amounts of economic growth and income in every region of the world. You can read her speech here.
The question I ask is how do we harness women’s power? How do we work together to encourage more collaboration, recognition and support for the economic and human powerhouse that is represented by the women of the world?
In a Special Report produced exclusively for The Wall Street Journal
Executive Task Force for Women In The Economy 2011, Unlocking the full potential of
women in the U.S. economy,  it was recognised that women have been a growing factor in the success of the U.S. economy since the 1970s. The additional productive power of women entering the workforce since then accounts for about a quarter of current GDP.
But the full potential of women in the workforce has not yet been tapped. Now, it is critically important to do so: According to McKinsey’s the U.S. struggles to sustain GDP growth rates, it needs to bring more women into the workforce and fully deploy high-skilled women to drive growth through productivity improvements.
How do we leverage this fantastic resource? As a crude analogy, imagine all women represent a massive oil reserve, or huge coal deposits. I dont think we’d be left in the ground! We have huge, hidden, untapped potential. Let’s join together to leverage the hell out of us! And along the way, maybe take back the world.

Business Strategy, Corporate sponsorship, fundraising, Not for Profit Sector, partnerships, philanthropy, Women in Business

10 Tips to great relationships

10 ways to prepare for partnering

Thinking about entering the corporate partnership space or improving your results in this area? Pamela Sutton-Legaud suggests some things you should have in place before going to market.

The following are ten tips you may like to consider, which will save you and your potential sponsor time, money and energy. It’s better to proactively determine these points rather than to be unprepared when a potential partnership opportunity arises.

1. Allocate responsibility for partnerships. Allocate a team or team member who has, as part of their job description and key performance indicators, the responsibility to deal with and negotiate corporate partnerships. This is particularly important in organisations that have a range of entry points, to ensure all potential partners are consistently appraised and receive the appropriate level of benefits to reflect the level of partnership.

2. Define organisational values for partnerships. Assist your staff by working with your board or executive team to create a corporate sponsorship policy which details what sort of industries conflict with or enhance your core values. Using an obvious example, if your organisation aims to assist people struggling with addiction, be explicit whether you will accept funds from tobacco companies, alcohol companies or gaming companies.

3. Create a selection criteria framework for sponsor partnerships. In support of your policy, it helps to create a sponsorship framework which outlines how you will select or accept new partners, how to acknowledge donors/sponsors and what you can give back in terms of value for their sponsorship dollars. Consider if you receive $5,000 or $500,000 gift – what could you offer to a sponsor at various levels of support? While each sponsor has different needs and requirements, you can develop some basic guidelines to get the conversation started. Defining this early – and the benefits that do/don’t come with each – can save a lot of headaches down the line.

4. Prepare a partnership benefits overview. Prepare a short guideline document to provide to any sponsor who should approach you which provides an overview of how you work, what you can offer, and why you’d be a great partner, as well as any selection criteria that you would apply to any sponsorship application. It allows you to respond to any requests quickly and professionally. It also allows a potential sponsor to self determine how good a fit they are with you, your stakeholders or audience.

5. Evaluate prospective partners’ organisational fit. Consider which types of organization are ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ partners for your cause. At Zoos Victoria, we are a natural fit with organisations that wish to engage with a large family audience, as almost two million people visit our zoos annually. So, fast moving consumer goods organisations or those focused on a consumer audience are a good ‘natural’ fit. As such, when Zoos Victoria entered into a partnership with ANZ bank, this was a very natural fit for both parties as our audiences and values were well matched.

6. Look for a values match. It’s important to be explicit about your own organisation’s values and review how they align with a prospective partner. Zoos Victoria takes a G-rated approach to our family audience so we want to collaborate with organisations with similar values. We are also a nonprofit conservation organisation, so we want to work with organisations that are likeminded and consider the impact of their actions and those of their customers on the environment. We’re here to protect and defend endangered species and we want to work with those organizations that actively support this goal.

7. Consider the value/effort of possible partnership. Nonprofits are time poor and relationships are time intensive, so it makes sense to evaluate the effort to reward ratio of a prospective partnership. Zoos Victoria uses a simple but powerful decision making framework which offers a simple way to assess a potential partnership activity. We look for partnerships and activities that sit in that top left hand corner – the ‘sweet-spot’ of low-medium effort for high value. This works in everyone’s favour.

8. Aim for multi-year partnerships. Wherever possible, look for multi-year partnerships to make the most of the work that goes into a partnership agreement on both sides. Negotiating multi-year partnerships allows time for the relationship to form and grow, while assuring partnership goals are met along the way. Good results come from time and reasonable levels of effort.

9. Record each partner’s goals. Create clear goals and don’t be afraid to clarify all the key outcomes of the partnership in a written sponsorship agreement. It is much easier to clarify your partnership benefits and commitments at the beginning of the relationship, than half way through.

10. Implement a regular review process. With clearly written up goals in place, you should regularly review the partnership’s progress against expectations to evaluate whether it’s meeting each partner’s expectations and take steps to improve on the relationship where possible. With this approach you can create enjoyable, mutually-beneficial relationships that continue for many years through open communication.

Pamela Sutton-Legaud
Pamela Sutton-Legaud is the Executive Director of the Zoos Victoria Foundation and leads the strategic direction for institutional and individual giving for Werribee Open Range Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo which celebrates its 150th anniversary in October 2012.

1st Published in Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine 2012

Australia, Business Strategy, Not for Profit Sector, Women in Business

Values driven Value

I’m working on an idea that if for profit businesses are all about delivering value, then not for profit enterprises are about delivering on values. In 2012 and beyond we may see more of these two elements combining to bring about the values driven business. Money driven social enterprise if you will.

Consumers are looking for businesses that have sustainable business practices, that are ‘gentle’ on the environment, that utilise local resources rather than outsourcing everything overseas and are activity contributing to the positive health of community through their core business.

Since their invention, companies have focused on creating shareholder value as their primary objective. Consumers however are looking to those companies in an attempt to measure their shared values to see if they are the sorts of company their want to do business with. Shareholders too are looking at businesses to see if they ‘fit’ not just if they’ll fly financially. It’s not all about the mighty dollar any more.

For too long commercial organisations have tried to show how much they ‘care’ about the community by creating corporate social responsibility programmes (CSR) with the aim of offsetting some of their less positive activities (such as digging large holes in the ground, cutting down trees. filling our air with smog etc) or to emphasise their efforts to contribute to their community by promoting their charitable giving or the volunteering efforts of their staff. All of these things run along side their actual raison d’être. In the worst cases, these programmes are often add-ons and little more than lip service for some organisations. It’s something corporations have to be seen to be doing in order to be seen as good corporate citizens.

However the world is changing and consumers are asking for something more. It is not enough that businesses make good on their less popular actions by offsetting with ‘good works’. Consumers are looking for companies to change their business models so that their core business actions change. Make money but do it without destroying the planet and without destroying ‘my’ local community in particular.

In the past non-profit organisations were the ones which, by focusing on what is important to their constituents and stakeholders: their values, attempted to address the social imbalances of the world by helping to provide clean water, housing, medicine to the poorest of communities, protecting endangered species. At the same time, in part due to their use of the public purse, they are required to be come more efficient, more business like. Commercial businesses are behaving in their practices more like for-profits and in turn, commercial organisations are re-examining their modus operandi to determine what really matters and the way they make money; in effect becoming more like non-profits. What we’ll see is a merging of these two into a hybrid for-profit, for purpose organisation that is in the business of making money while at the same time attempting to address the key social issues of our time: poverty, health, inequality, education. Is this what is meant by social entrepreneurship?

More on this later. Comments?

Business Strategy, Not for Profit Sector, Tigers, Women in Business

Trading Places

A few times I’ve been asked by people wanting to change career direction whether they should take a job in the not for profit sector. I thought you might be interested in a few (there are lots more) things you’ll encounter if you make that choice. Love to hear your comments.

  1. It will mean working with lots of inspirational women! What is it about the NFP sector that attracts women? Cynically I could argue that they’ll put up with the lower pay scales more readily than men! However, they also work very hard and put the cause right out in front as a beacon of hope and energy. I love the women working in our sector, they are so inspirational! Some of the women board directors I’ve met are absolutely driven and fantastic mentors.Image
  2. It won’t be easy! A few hopeful but misguided souls consider a move to a nonprofit organisation will mean that life won’t be as stressful or busy as working for a commercial business. (I recall the job candidates who when asked why they’re considering a job in the NFP world answer “I’m looking to slow down a bit!” Not likely!) It might actually be a bit more stressful! You may have fewer resources including staff and money and you may be working on issues that create emotional stresses – like considering the needs of children living in poverty or those dealing with cancer or depression.
  3. It will be more rewarding! Almost certainly if you choose an organisation that follows a cause not led by the balance sheet, you will find it rewarding. How much more rewarding depends on how much you put into it and how much the cause matters to you.Image
  4. It will mean coming face to face with your own values! What matters to you? What gets you up in the morning? What drives you and makes you angry/motivated and ready to take on the world? Find the organisation that meets your values and you’ll have found your cause.
  5. It will mean asking others for money! If you are unsure if you are ready to ask others to financially support your cause, you may not want to work in the sector. Government funding is always limited and donor funding is often fickle so no matter what your role from scientist to receptionist, you will one day be asked to help out with fundraising. It’s not hard but it can appear to be confrontational. You’ll learn that by encouraging others to give, it’s a great way of connecting them with their values. A worthy cause indeed.
Books & Writing, Business Strategy, Gardening

It’s summer so I’m reading…

It’s these long summer days and mild evenings that see me sitting in the garden with a book. Or multiple books as is often the case. I also listen to talking books in the car thanks to so one way or another, I’m reading and absorbing plenty! These days I’m more likely to visit the local 2nd hand shop and bring home a bag of biographies, art books. theosophy or business strategy books. I can’t go past a good gardening book either and one day I’ll figure out how to care for my plants in pots so they last past their first blooms.

It’s usual for me to have a theme that carries through all of the books that I have on the go…sometimes deliberately, other times serendipitously. I usually prefer to read non-fiction over fiction (except in my early teens where I had an obsession with horror and science fiction writing and Stephen King was my master).

So the theme at the moment is ‘How to get out of your own way’ and do the things you really want to do. Not because your mother thinks it’s a good idea, and not because it’s a great way to pay the bills and not because it will look good on your resume. Just because you want to do it and it is, as one author put it ‘your silent scream’. The thing or things you want to do more than anything else in the world if only you could get out of your own way long enough to start doing it.

So I started with “When work doesn’t work anymore, Women, Work and Identity” by Elizabeth Perle McKenna. Rather an academic book but with some very good insights (while not offering too much in the way of guidance) which should have been a best seller when it came out in 1997 as it turned out to be an excellent prophecy of what the future would hold not just for women but for all worker bees. That money, power and world domination aren’t the measures of success that are driving us any more. And in particular, have proved pretty unhealthy for women and men alike.

Push forward to 2006* and the audio/book “Success Built to Last” by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson and the theme continues except they are using more high-profile examples of success and everyone’s got the same idea that ‘money aint enough’ and you need to love what you do and do what you love to have real lasting success. (Just quietly, I think if “When Work doesn’t work anymore” had used more well-known people as case studies, it might have been more successful however it was published in a time when we didn’t light candles to celebrities but I digress). I really enjoyed ‘Success built to Last’ and recommend it. One idea struck me as useful (amongst others) that if you want to really spend your time on the things that matter most to you then figure out the things you should do more of and the things you should do less of. I liked this and set about making a list. We should all do more lists 🙂

In one of my charity shop excursions I picked up “there are only two times in life – Now and Too late” by Terry Hawkins. It looked like it might prove helpful in that ‘moving out of your own path’ way of thinking I was developing but in all honesty, the structure of the book was such that I lost interest after the first two chapters. It didn’t seem to have much direction. So I agreed with the title and decided now was a good time to stop reading it.

Another excellent audio book (yes, i spend a bit of time in the car and i cant bear commercial radio so I’m an audio book-o-phile) is ‘Buy-in: Saving your good idea from being shot down’ by John P Kotter and Lorne A Whitehead*. I really enjoyed this. Great strategies for getting your opponents to open up about their objections to your brilliant idea so that you can overcome them by calm discussion and get on with your project in peace having gained 70%+ support for it. This book has help me in my working life negotiations and would recommend their ideas.

So now. The sun is setting and I turn away from my business books, pick up my rose wine spritzer, stroke one of my cats who is sitting on the table guarding me against flies and other intruders and pick up my next book: ‘The French’, it was written by an Englishman, Theodore Zeldin, in 1983. My husband is French, so perhaps I’ll gain some new insights and maybe a new theme will develop… I wonder where this one will take me…..

*released on

Business Strategy, Melbourne

The profits of learning to let go…

Over lunch on a warm afternoon in Lygon Street Melbourne, I discussed with a friend the need to be able to extend your business beyond yourself, particularly for owner/operators who were their business.

I’ve witnessed several businesses with great potential that would have grown more successfully if the owner/manager could have imagined that business being implemented by someone else.

Where a business owner has had the insight to recognise that they can’t do everything themselves (and shouldnt try), then the business started to progress. Not to say its easier or less work to involve others I’ve seen the benefits of sharing the load. In addition when they’ve started to think about how they would structure/operate their business with a view to someone else operating it, a change takes place that opens up a number of opportunities.
Here are a couple:
1. If you have others working in your business you can share ideas and problems with them – you are not trying to work out everything yourself.
2. If someone else is working IN the business – driving sales, delivery customer solutions – you can be working ON the business, driving strategy and leadership skills, developing new ideas.
3. If you are the business how do you sell your business if you decide you want to move on? By building a business model that is transferable, that can be owned by someone else is what makes a business, in my opinion, a real business and not a one person consultancy. To test this, think of how a business named after the owner which has no other staff could possibly sell that business to someone else unless they have a repeatable business model that does not rely exclusively on the skills of the current owner.

4 Which brings us to the old chestnut of business plan – which should be considered with the future of the business in mind – not just today, but in 5 or 10 years. Dont you want everything you’ve worked for to continue after you’ve found new interests? (even if those interests involve mostly a pina colada and a beach). So building a business plan that allows the business to be owned and successfully operated by someone else is a must unless you’re happy to shut your door when you take down your shingle.
5. Release the Equity in your business: capitalise on all the work you’ve put into the business to date. This is your business equity. If your business were a house which you’d owned for a number of years in a rising market, when you were ready to move on, you’d sell it on to a new owner for a profit. You can set yourself up to do this with your business to release the accumulated equity if you build it with the future in mind. All that sweat and effort could turn itself in to a future profit. Isnt that something for which it’s worth sharing your vision?
Write and tell me what your vision is for your business. And for more info on planning and building a better business visit Alignments Australia and consider reading The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.