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Stellar Partnerships

Stellar Partnerships: Corporate & Community Partnership

Why a scarcity mindset is killing growth

Cruising holidays are back in fashion. COVID was a PR disaster for the industry but now everyone is jumping at the chance to indulge and explore exciting new adventures. A particular favourite of cruising holidaymakers is the food buffet. The chance to sample a banquet of options, try new things and share with friends. But what would the experience be like if you turned up to the lavish dinner buffet worrying if there was going to be a meal the next day?  It wouldn’t be a fun time; you’ll feel constantly anxious and you’d be stuffing bread rolls into your handbag just in case.

It sounds an unlikely scenario, but that’s exactly what non-profits are doing with a scarcity mindset. The focus on immediate revenue at the expense of impact is killing growth and reducing the ambitions for corporate partnerships.

Here’s how.

A scarcity mindset leads non-profits to search for quick fixes.  That means a focus on funding for ongoing programs and creating products to sell to corporates. Ready made packages are anathema to building meaningful relationships. It’s like turning up to a first date in a wedding dress. You can get a corporate to buy a sponsorship package, but how will that advance your core mission? If you’re looking for a societal shift, you want collaborations that create long term solutions. Corporate partners have plenty of assets, resources and expertise to help with that, but a scarcity mindset means that non-profits overlook the real benefits of working with corporates to grab at the quick revenue fix.

The focus on immediate revenue is reducing ambition and resulting in low innovation. Non-profits are intensely focused on the next dollar rather than the impact they’re trying to achieve. It means that corporate partnerships are seen through a transactional lens, not as long-term investments in relationships that will grow and sustain. When you’re hoarding as many bread rolls as possible, you’re missing out on trying the gourmet creations that could transform your palate. If you think about impact, not scarcity, you’ll be open to innovation and tap into the creativity that comes with corporate collaboration.

The other downside of a scarcity mindset is the impact on staff. Non-profits make little or no investment in learning and development and are likely to pitch salaries as low as possible. We spoke with one partnership manager whose salary package was so low that he was considering a side hustle as an Uber driver to bring in a decent income. All because the non-profit wanted to make sure as much money as possible went to beneficiaries and budgets were tight. A business model that survives only on exploiting the goodwill of its staff is unethical and unsustainable. We see constant staff churn, leading to lack of continuity in corporate relationships. It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship with a corporate partner if you’re the third one that year giving them a call.

We know that cost of living crisis is punching holes in some fundraising budgets right now. But a continual mindset of scarcity, that exists no matter the economic cycle, is killing growth and stifling impact. If you want sustainable income and a content workforce, you need to think about impact, not just the next dollar in the door. When you talk about impact you’ll inspire your corporate partners to collaborate on solutions and offer much more than a quick fix for your revenue gap.