Hidden Resources

Above And Beyond

As a supplier, you may be asked to communicate what you're doing to the organization's stakeholders, particularly if the group has a large number of donors or volunteers. "There [may be] a public relations component to what you do because you could be asked to prepare information or speak directly to some of these larger stakeholder contingents beyond the organization itself," says Perks.

You may also be expected to make a contribution to the cause. "Nonprofits have development arms that are raising money from corporations and foundations, and you as a vendor are a prime target to be solicited for contributions," Perks says. If and how much you give is a decision you'll make based on your own charitable policies, your feelings about the issue and your relationship with the organization. But don't assume a substantial donation will secure your position--you still must perform.

"Whether or not the nonprofit customer is acting like a profit-oriented company, you should act as if they were," DeRocker advises. "Make yourself more accountable to them than they would make you. Always act as if they were a profit-oriented company focused on bottom-line results. It will make you more attractive because you can always answer the question `What are you going to get for your money?'--and you can answer it with more measurability and certitude than somebody who doesn't take that approach. It will make you more appealing in the sales process, and it helps make you more bullet-proof once you get the account."

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hidden Resources.

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