April 7, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
Jim Klocke on Nonprofit and For-profit Partnerships

We have started to interview nonprofit leaders to hear their perspective on trends, challenges and opportunities in the nonprofit sector. We are calling it our “On the Fly” series because we’re taking a decidedly basic approach to capturing the interviews – dropping the camera in front of the subject and letting them talk.

If you know of any good individuals who have insights to share, please share your suggestions!

Jim Klocke is the CEO of Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN), whose mission is to promote nonprofits, help them build capacity, and engage in advocacy on behalf of the sector. One of the topics he spoke about in our conversation was how businesses can go beyond the traditional support of organizations (i.e. sponsoring a table at a fundraising event) and engage with nonprofits in a deeper, more sustainable way.

“More and more, it’s really within the last five to ten years – people ascribe it to the rise of millennials in the workforce, others ascribe it to, frankly, companies just getting smarter and smarter about motivation and about building stronger organizations – employees want to be part of a company, not that just delivers a good or a service but that is committed to and is helping to accomplish a bigger, broader societal good.

“If you create a team of employees within a company who will look at nonprofits, who will propose nonprofits to support, and then once we pick a nonprofit we the company are going to get into a sustained, deep partnership with that nonprofit, which does not just mean that we’ll be offering volunteer time a few times a year.

“It might mean senior executives meeting with the head of the nonprofit in an informal mentoring role four times a year. It might mean the company’s communications apparatus, a couple of times a year swings into action to help promote the nonprofit, to help draw attention and new volunteers to the nonprofit and to the cause they are working on.

“There are an immense range of possibilities here, and there is already a lot going on. We see it as a really creative, new, strong way to address these challenges. Nobody has all the answers, and you can’t really say that any one tool – one for-profit or nonprofit tool – is going to be the best one to solve problems. But so often when you bring people together, when you combine tools, when you combine disciplines, that’s where the sparks of creativity are the greatest.”