Today’s Ask Ivan question comes from Christina, who works for a nonprofit organization in the United States.
I was advised to reach out to you to get guidance on how to be more effective as a public charity in BNI. At first, I didn’t know where I fit because I don’t have a tangible product or service that would directly benefit others in the chapter. Could you please provide some guidance on how I can be more effective in using BNI to support our mission?
Nonprofits can be very effective and very successful in BNI. Here are ten benefits of BNI membership for nonprofits.
- Referrals to other companies doing charitable work to create strategic alliances.
- Referrals to the charity’s thrift shop or other product or service (if there is one).
- Invitations to special events.
- Volunteers for special projects.
- Referrals for possible board members.
- Referrals for speaking engagements.
- Don’t just look for donations.
- Referrals for good employees.
- Fine-tune your message.
- Introductions to local leaders.
Read Dr. Misner’s article about difficult-to-refer businesses on Entrepreneur.com.
Add your own suggestions for how nonprofits can use BNI in the comments below.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 511 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, which features Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan, how are you and where are you today?
I am in the New England area on business. I have a very interesting topic today. It is part of the Ask Ivan series. It is a question that was asked to me recently by Christina. Christina is with a nonprofit organization in the United States. Here is her question for me, “I have been with BNI for almost two years now and I was advised to reach out to you by multiple members to get guidance on how to be more effective as a public charity in BNI. At first, I din’t know where I fit because I didn’t have a tangible product or service that would directly benefit the others in the chapter. Could you please provide some guidance on how I can be more effective in using BNI as part of our mission?” Christina does work with community outreach, community services, family services.
You know, the title of this is, “Do Nonprofits Work in BNI?” so the short answer to the title is absolutely, positively. Nonprofits can be very effective and very successful in BNI, but that doesn’t answer Christina’s question. Let me give you some suggestions, Christina, and for everyone out there who is in a nonprofit organization, take notes. Listen to this and if you have ideas that I don’t come up with, please post them here on my podcast of some things that have worked for you.
So I gave it some thought. I knew that nonprofits could work extremely well in BNI. I game some thought to it, but I asked our resident expert and my personal resident expert on charitable work and foundations is my wife. But what is really interesting and what a lot of people don’t know is Elizabeth joined BNI in 1986, so she has been in BNI for a long, long time. She had many roles within the company as the Director of Marketing- she was the regional director of the largest region for BNI at one time, Director of Marketing, Special Projects. Then in 1998, she co-founded the BNI Foundation with me and for many years, up until recently, ran the BNI Foundation.
So she is an expert at this and I got some suggestions from her. Between the two of us, we came up with 10 different ways that nonprofits can benefit from BNI. 10. Here is the first:
Referrals to other companies doing charitable work to work together on projects and services, to basically create strategic alliances with other organizations.
Number two, some nonprofits do have products or services. Christina, I recognize you say you don’t, but some do have products or services and those actually work really well in BNI. For example, thrift shops. I was on a board for an organization that had a thrift shop. That was a really good fit. Companies that work with special needs adults assembling packages or materials. That is a fantastic one for BNI. So nonprofits that do that, that’s an easy one. But for those who don’t have products or services, here are some more:
Number three, invitations to special events. There is a fundraiser that we may be having or there may be an open house. One of the organizations that I belong to did a monthly open house where people would just say, “Hey, look, have you ever been curious as to this big operation that you see going on on the side of the hill?” or “Do you know people who have been curious about our children’s center? On the last Thursday of the month, come to lunch and we will give you a tour.”
Invite people to those kinds of things. You don’t always have to be asking people for money. Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. This applies to nonprofits as well.
Get referrals for volunteers for special projects. That’s number four. And volunteers both inside and outside the BNI group. You could talk about a special project that is going on and the nonprofit is looking for people to volunteer.
I mean, here is a great one that I have seen the BNI Foundation itself do- sped mentoring, where they had BNI members as mentors working with children’s programs that were young entrepreneurs and the BNI members just volunteered. They just volunteered for an hour of their time to pour into these kids with their knowledge on running a business.
Number five, referrals for board members, again, both inside and outside the BNI group. You know, if you are looking for a board member for a nonprofit, you should show up to a [BNI] meeting and say, “This week I want to talk about board members. Here are some of the people who are on our Board of Directors now. And we are always looking for someone like this person, this person and this person. If you know someone like that, we would love to have an introduction because these are the people who help run our organization.
Number six- this is a good one. Almost any nonprofit can do this one. Speaking engagement. A lot of nonprofits would love to get out and talk to Rotary, Lions, Kawanas, church groups, whatever, community organizations, to just talk about what they are doing and how they are making a difference in the community.
That is a big one. If you don’t do anything else. If nothing else in this podcast resonates with your nonprofit, that is the one that you want to do with.
I also did an article for Entrepreneur many years ago about how to use a network to get speaking engagements. I will give that to Priscilla here so that we can include that link in this and go back to look at the old article.
So you can go to a BNI meeting and say, “Hey, look, I am really easy to give referrals to. I would love to talk about my nonprofit organization. So here are some letters that you can use to introduce me to people.” That is what I talk about in this article that I wrote. I will make sure that the link is included.
Number seven- this is actually a “don’t do” rather than a “do”. Don’t just look for donations. Don’t just stand up every week and say, “We need money.” That would be like somebody standing up every week and saying, “I need a sale. Buy my product now. Don’t do that every week. As a matter of fact, rarely do that. And if you are going to do that, do it for big events, “Come to our fundraiser. Come to this.” The other stuff is even more important.
Here is another one: Number eight, referrals for good employees. Nonprofits are always looking for recommendations for employees. I just recently recommended someone for an important executive assistant position for a board that I was on for many years, and they were hired. They were really happy.
So if you are a nonprofit and you are looking for good employees who believe in the mission of the organization, that is another great way that BNI can support you.
Here is number nine: Fine-tune your message on BNI members. Every BNI member I have ever met for any length of time has said to me, “Oh yeah. BNI has enabled me to fine-tune my message. I can communicate what I do much more effectively.” That is an important benefit to you as a BNI member.
Number ten: introduction to local leaders. Come to a meeting and say, “I have really been trying to meet [this person] or [that person]. Do any of you know someone who might know that individual that would be willing to make an introduction? I won’t ask them for money. I simply want to meet with them and tell them about our products, tell them about our services and what we do for the community so that they can know about us. That’s really powerful for a lot of nonprofits.
So there are 10 things to think about if you are a nonprofit. What I would love is to have like 15 or 20, so if you are listening to this podcast, put some more. Give us some suggestions, especially if you are a nonprofit organization. I hope that if you are a nonprofit that you got some ideas here.
I want to open it up for you, Priscilla, in a second to see if you have anything to add, but before I do, I do want to clarify one thing. I do come into chapters every now and then where somebody said, ” I had the nonprofit chair. Okay, we. Don’t have a nonprofit chair. That’s like saying I, “I have the for-profit chair.” There are many different businesses in NBNI. There can be and I have seen some groups that have more than one nonprofit organization if they are focusing on different things.
If you take this list of ten things that I am talking about, there is a lot that you can do. You know, just don’t get two nonprofits doing the same thing. Maybe you get. And profit that has special needs adults doing assembly of packages and then something where it is a children’s services program which is completely different. So it is pod dibble to have more than one.
But we don’t have one nonprofit in a chapter of BNI. It could be more. I have never seen more than two, but don’t limit yourself.
What do you think about that list, Priscilla? A couple of things that maybe you didn’t think about?
Oh definitely. There are some great things on that list. I sit on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit called LivingZazz.org. We have a gala once a a year and we also put on a very large concert for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in honor of his life. People in my group, my chapter, buy tickets for those events and I consider that a referral.
And you are not even taking a nonprofit seat, but that is very generous of you. That’s very nice.
I mean, it’s very wonderful and helpful that they actually participate or volunteer.
I like that. And you know what? I am going way, way, way back but I did the same thing when I was a member of a local chapter. I was always involved in charitable work. I did the same things, so that is a great suggestion.
Alright,so I will include that link for those of you who want to use it to get ideas on how to use BNI to get speaking engagements. That is a great article that I did for Entrepreneur many years ago. I think you fill find it helpful. That is it for today, Priscilla. Thanks.
That’s great, Dr. Misner. Thank you so much. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thank you for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.