Amplifying the Nonprofit Voice Using Resources and Talent from the Business Community
An Inspired Tour
There are several reasons why businesses choose to partner with charities. Among them, providing financial support through workplace giving, matching gifts, and volunteer time are effective and critically important ways for companies to demonstrate their commitment to the community. And leveraging those initiatives to engage employees can also help businesses accomplish recruitment and retention objectives and other corporate philanthropy goals. But strong business-nonprofit partnerships can also facilitate and achieve mutual goals in more creative ways, as is the case with a unique collaboration between ServiceSource and AARP.
After presenting at an annual Strategic Planning Session for ServiceSource, a leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit disability resource organization, Kim Young, Vice President of Business Development at America’s Charities (ServiceSource’s workplace giving partner), learned about this collaboration between ServiceSource and AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. While most people are familiar with AARP’s work, you might not be as familiar with ServiceSource’s work. And that is precisely what made AARP’s initiative supporting ServiceSource so valuable.
With regional offices and programs located in 11 states and the District of Columbia, ServiceSource provides a wide range of customized programs for individuals, families, employers and corporate partners. The organization’s proven collaborative approach helps foster a more inclusive and supportive community where individuals with disabilities can succeed and thrive. Educating and engaging elected officials is a critical element of ServiceSource’s work, particularly for programs like Warrior Bridge, which is a vital connection to resources and support for veterans with disabilities as they seek employment, self-sufficiency and improved quality of life. In the last fiscal year, ServiceSource served 671 veterans with disabilities through a range of support services, directly hired 69 veterans, and placed 105 veterans in community employment. In response to an overwhelming need for coordination among veteran-serving organizations, Warrior Bridge works to facilitate greater collaboration among government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector employers. One of the opportunities ServiceSource faces is increasing the visibility of its organization and Warrior Bridge program with stakeholders, media, and the public.
“Ensuring that local, state, and federal representatives know the who, what, where, why, and how of ServiceSource, and how we favorably impact constituents in their districts is pivotal to our work,” said Frank DeLucia, ServiceSource’s Florida vice president of program development. “We attend and work numerous legislative receptions and forums, public hearings, meet and greets, open houses, and town halls; join and contribute to pertinent coalitions, task forces, Chamber and trade functions; help representatives’ constituents meet emergency housing, health, and work-related needs; and invite officials to meet our participants and tour our programs.”
In January 2018, U. S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis visited ServiceSource’s Veterans Mall, a storeroom of kitchen, bath, and bedroom essentials and job interview clothes given for free to injured veterans who are transitioning from homelessness to community living. These veterans are referred from the Bill Young and James Haley VA Hospitals.
Among those who welcomed and toured with Bilirakis was AARP Associate State Director of Communications, Colleen Krepstekies, a guest of retired U. S. Army Major and Homes For Independence board member Scott Macksam. Krepstekies was so taken with the Mall that she offered to help publicize its good works.
A Three-pronged Plan Tried and True
Wasting no time, Krepstekies came up with a three-pronged plan to generate awareness for ServiceSource and its Warrior Bridge program. She would:
- Underwrite and produce a documentary for ServiceSource and post it on AARP’s website and Facebook page,
- Explore partnering and sponsoring events benefiting ServiceSource Florida, and
- Script and share ServiceSource’s story on AARP’s web site splash page.
Krepstekies asked the ServiceSource team to select key stakeholders to interview, and had her production crew tour the Mall and familiarize themselves with their programs.
ServiceSource arranged for the following constituents and stakeholders to be filmed and interviewed:
- Mall Founder Virginia Meyer
- Warrior Bridge Program Manager Grant Collins
- Veterans Paul Mabry and Mario Chambers
- Significant grantors of the Mall - Bank of America’s Assistant Vice President and Operations Manager Stewart Taijeron, and Duke Energy’s Sr. Communications Consultant Peveeta Persaud
- Volunteers, and
- Publicist Rob Sumner
Within a span of three weeks, the Krepstekies-led production team recorded hours of interviews, voiceovers, and B-roll, rolling out the final published piece, which you can watch at: https://impact.ac/ServiceSourceStory.
“Few endorsements are more powerful than independent, third-party testimonials from veterans, volunteers, and funders underscoring our program’s impact,” said DeLucia. “Having stakeholders tell the ‘ServiceSource Story’ and hearing how it’s enriched lives is very rewarding and inspiring. AARP’s documentary gives us the vehicle to deliver passionate messages in a succinct, professional manner.”
More than a Documentary: the Beginning of a Relationship
Being chosen to participate in the documentary sent a strong signal to key stakeholders that ServiceSource values their time, talents, and contributions. It further engaged and emboldened stakeholders by allowing them to express in their own words why they invest so much fiscal and physical energy in ServiceSource’s mission benefiting veterans with disabilities.
It also helped ServiceSource give recognition to partners like Bank of America and Duke Energy, both of which have invested substantial dollars and pro bono labor in support of the Mall, which recently served its 2,000th formerly homeless veteran.
Not long after completing the documentary, Krepstekies announced that ServiceSource had been selected as the charitable beneficiary of AARP’s sponsorship of the 2018 MacDill AFB AirFest. A two-time winner of the ‘Best Military Air Show’, AirFest is one of the largest air shows in the Department of Defense. MacDill’s air show is held each year to highlight the missions, traditions and heritage of the military services. The two-day event is hosted by a variety of civilian and military aerobatics demonstration teams.
At the event, AARP recognized ServiceSource’s local impact, presenting them with a $5,000 check and giving ServiceSource a unique opportunity to talk about their work, including Warrior Bridge, through media interviews. Krepstekies fulfilled another commitment when her $5,000 gift entitled AARP to serve as the presenting sponsor of the 2018 ServiceSource Service Excellence Awards Luncheon, at which she and AARP were honored as the Community Partner of the Year.
“With more than 188,000 veterans in the Tampa Bay area, this event is a great opportunity to engage with the veteran and military community,” said Krepstekies. “AARP has about 4 million members who are veterans and as the largest nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older, we can be a resource by partnering with local organizations [like ServiceSource] that can make a direct impact in the community.”
Working Together Strategically and Creatively to Achieve Mutual Goals
Limited resources often hinder a nonprofit organization’s ability to effectively exhibit the full value and need for their work, but that’s where corporate-nonprofit collaborations like that between AARP and ServiceSource come into play. By thinking more strategically and creatively about how to address nonprofits’ ongoing resource challenges, the private sector can improve nonprofit impact and performance.
“Companies shouldn’t look at their work with nonprofits as transactional events but rather as building a relationship with a trusted “go to” partner that is working to achieve mutual goals,” as one nonprofit survey participant stated in America’s Charities Snapshot Nonprofit Research, Rising Tide of Expectations: Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Impact.
There are many ways the private sector can support charities, with various levels of commitment in terms of time, money and resources. The exact strategies, nonprofit partnerships, and collaborative approaches taken will ultimately depend on a combination of what resources businesses have to offer, what type of impact they want to make, and which causes align with their values.
Not sure how to get started? Contact America’s Charities’ team of expert advisors. From assessing your social responsibility and employee engagement programs to strategy development, implementation, and measurement, America’s Charities can provide your company with best practices and an actionable plan to help align nonprofit support with your employee engagement program and CSR goals.