Vendors Often Make Great Supporters

September 7, 2018

Far too often, fundraisers overlook some of their strongest supporters —- their vendors. In most non-profits, the single largest expense is salaries. But after that, many charities spend millions on other items (from rent to office supplies to photocopiers to insurance).

How often do we ask those vendors for financial support?

Associating with your non-profit is usually a good PR move for any business. But, unfortunately, few charities harness that relationship. I have come to the point where I will only do business with businesses that support our charity. Why should we be using donor dollars to support somebody who won’t support us? In fairness, I don’t care if the support is a cheque or a rebate — it is something that we would pay anyway.

I do like to take this notion a step further though. As any good fiduciary, it is incumbent upon staff to re-tender items every so often. I insist that all donors who are in this field (like accounting firms for the annual audit) are asked to quote on the tender. I do not (nor should I) guarantee that they will be awarded the job, rather I do guarantee that they will have the opportunity to do business with our organization.

Just imagine what message it sends to the corporate donors we have if they are never given the opportunity to do business with our organization.

I have found that this leverages the fundraising quite nicely. I must reiterate that there is a big difference between being asked to tender and being awarded the contract.

This does, however, present a conundrum. Let’s say that we are looking for widgets at our organization and we have whittled the selection process down to two vendors (based on quality etc.)

Vendor A comes in at $90

Vendor B comes in at $100 but will donate $20 back to your organization.

Who do you choose?

Vendor A is technically low bid, but Vendor B is the lower net bid.

I, personally, would always go for B. This looks at the Vendor as more than a vendor — it regards them as both a vendor and a donor.

L’chaim, folks!