You are involved in the community for all the right reasons. You are giving back and helping others. You’ve also heard it’s a path into the higher echelons of the local business community and a way to get business. How does this happen?
WIIFM – What’s In It for Me?
You are in the country club or on the museum circuit. You meet people, volunteer and serve on committees. You make a positive impression on people.
- Direct Business – You meet executives at the country club. They are new arrivals to the area. They prefer face-to-face relationships for professional services. They approach you.
- Introductions/Referrals – They are settled but they know this new arrival at the office. Alternatively, they have a friend who constantly complains their CPA retired and their son is an idiot. They want to make a change. You are introduced.
- Telling Your Story – Over time you want people to know Who you are, What you do and Why you are good. You want to know a few things about them: Who they are, Where they work and What they do. You file this away for future reference.
- Visibility – If you are telling your story, this is an obvious byproduct. Visibility = Credibility.
- Identification With Positive Organization – You are on the board of the Children’s Hospital. What a noble mission! That goodwill transfers to you.
- Access to Social Circles – You are charming. The galas you attend lead to invitations to pre-parties and after parties at member’s homes.
What Does the Organization Get Out of It?
It might appear your involvement is the springboard for new business. That’s fine if it’s a chamber of commerce. Would other organizations take the same benevolent view? Depends on what they are getting out of it. They actually get a lot.
- Active Member – They have plenty of complainers and people who are just along for the ride. You attend meetings. You ask intelligent questions. You serve as an ambassador, telling their story to your friends.
- Direct Financial Support – You write checks, even if they are small. They’ve read the articles indicating accounting is the most profitable profession. If you aren’t rich now, you will be someday. That’s what cultivation is all about.
- Indirect Support – They know you work for a big name firm that happens to have a charitable foundation. They want some of that money. When they ask, you can point them in the right direction. They have grant writers on staff. They will be asked: “Are any of our employees involved with your charity?” Listing your name is a plus.
- Volunteer Involvement – You don’t just belong, you volunteer! There was a crisis in membership, event planning or fundraising. Not anymore.
- Professional Skills – This can go either way. As an accounting professional they might want your services for free. It starts with: “We have a financial management committee…” However, there is probably an actual CPA firm in the background filing forms with the IRS and being paid accordingly. Could this be your firm?
- Public Speaking – If you are gracious and outgoing, it’s possible you are comfortable speaking in front of groups. They need people with this skill to tell their story at other community groups. They might even want a free seminar for their members addressing tax law changes. These talks often lead to business, moving public speaking into the “What’s In It for Me” category.
Get involved with no-profits for the right reasons, but know that benefits can flow to you and the organization through your involvement.