Things to Consider When Choosing a Cause Related Marketing Program

The fact that your primary assets are invisible doesn’t make them any less attractive to corporations seeking word of mouth brand loyalty.  Your good name and trust among your members make your network into a goldmine for customer acquisition.  When financial profit exists as the bottom line for a company, using your cause as bait for customers can produce a host of unintended consequences and dissatisfaction over time.

On the other hand, cause related marketing can be very helpful in raising funds for your organization and even strengthen your social capital through the shared benefit of a successful Take care to research the motives, nature and practices of any company that seeks to partner with you. Below are some factors to consider.

Transparency.  How open and clear is the corporate partner about what amount of profit from cause related sales will be committed to your organization? Any company operating a credible cause marketing program will respond to requests for information and be able to answer specific questions about amount and accounting of funds used for charitable causes.

Pricing.  Does the company market cause related products at a different price than the same product sells through other outlets?  Sometimes a product will be sold at “list price” when customer referral comes through a charitable organization while selling the product at “discounted” prices through other channels.   This effectively makes the customer pay extra to cover any donation to their nonprofit cause.

Quality.  Don’t offer your members an inferior quality product in order to receive income for your budget.  Members may feel obligated to purchase the product and associate any problems they experience in product performance or customer service with your organization.  Although you may not formally endorse any product or company using your name for cause marketing, there is an implicit understanding by most members that you have researched the product and would not encourage members to make a poor consumer purchase.

Compatibility.  Is the product and company compatible with your organizations goals and values?  An animal welfare organization, for instance, will not want to allow a skin care product to use their name if the company uses lab animals for testing products.  An agency working for the benefit of children will not want to use a company that targets children with junk food or foods and high sugar content or deals in tobacco products.

Marketing.  What marketing methods will be used in public or targeted advertising?  You will not want your membership to be hounded by aggressive emails or phone calls.  Don’t allow the use of guilt or pressure by a company to make sales.  Marketing should be clear about benefits to your organization and choice of members to participate without pressure.  Marketing must be honest and should be effective enough to make any partnership profitable for your cause.  Reserve the right to approve any advertising campaigns.

Integrity.  The importance of integrity is related to other concerns on this list.  It is a good filter to apply to every step in a cause related marketing process.  Trust is your most valuable asset.  It can be quickly eroded if suspicions arise about any communication, motive or practice that violates common expectations of honesty, respect and fairness.  The primary values, history, recommendations and practices of the corporate partner in other areas (customer service, employee relations, advertising, etc) may give you valid clues about integrity.

Effectiveness.  Will the benefit to your organization be significant enough to justify a cause related marketing campaign?  Are there restrictions, qualifications or requirements that limit the amount your cause will receive?  If the corporation has used caused related marketing before, what were the results?  What projection does the corporation make for expected income and funding for your cause?  Is there any guaranteed donation to your organization for the right to use your name in marketing?

Expectations.  What work is expected from your organization?  Will time be required of staff, board, administration or volunteers to conduct the marketing project?  Does the marketing organization expect to have access to your membership, donor or contact  list?  Do not commit to a marketing process that would divert energy or time away from your primary mission.

Follow-Through.  Be sure that the corporate partner will supply detailed reports on a regular basis as well as a final report of all partner activity and income.  Reports should be available to your members on request. Evaluation by your board will determine if cause related marketing is right for your organization or if changes need to be made for future marketing projects.

With all these concerns and ways that cause related marketing could fail or harm your cause, should you consider using it as a fundraising opportunity?

Yes. With government funding, private grants and individual donations declining while social needs increase, cause related marketing continues to hold great potential for directing corporate profits to your cause.  Because it is connected with corporate sales and profits generated through association with your cause, income can be predictable and sustainable rather than being dependent on the decision of others or their ability to make a donation.

But do your homework on any cause related marketing opportunity.  Executed properly, it can be profitable for your organization and the corporate partner.  Benefit to your organization may extend far beyond financial income to include connection with the community, awareness of your mission, staff and volunteer cohesion.  A significant sustainable source of income that requires little time or effort can be an encouragement to everyone in your organization and fund your mission budget.

Financial Fuzziness in Charitable Funding

It’s interesting that we have come to define charitable benefit organizations as “not-for-profit”.  “Non” profit doesn’t clearly identify the nature of social benefit organizations.  It only states one characteristic that isn’t true.   Actually, it simply hints at the fact that “non-profits” usually don’t generate too much profit, or that it isn’t their primary goal, or that the profit generated is to be used for a particular purpose.  Since charitable organizations have grown beyond simply being different than business enterprise in regard to their source of income, it may be more accurate and helpful to define community benefit programs with a term other than “non-for-profit”.

One fallout from being labeled as “nonprofit” includes a set of assumptions about “for profit” business that by implication, must not be true about “nonprofit” organizations.  We may assume that business endeavors are productive, innovative, driven, highly complex efficient organizations.  Thus “nonprofit” organizations may be considered unaccountable, dealing in activity that can’t be measured or evaluated.  The “bottom line” that makes this simple for business doesn’t seem to fit or isn’t given the same regard in nonprofits.

Businesses have customers who must be served and satisfied for success. Nonprofits have clients who may or may not be helped.  Competition is a primary motive in business.  Nonprofits operate from concern and caring.  Nonprofits receive donations.  For profits charge fees. Not-for-profit organizations have dreams while goals and objectives are required for responsible commercial operations.  Business requires measurable results and growth within a limited time in order to survive.  Nonprofits may continue trying various approaches and programs with good intentions and social theory.  These and other assumptions naturally arise by defining charitable groups as “not” or the opposite of for-profit business organizations.

As many nonprofits have matured in purpose and productivity, using multiple revenue streams and talented executives in administrative positions, the line between “for profit” and “not-for-profit” has become blurred.  Corporations are becoming more socially and environmentally responsible.  Whether for profit or reasons of conscience, businesses are giving attention to bottom lines that include people, community and the planet as well as profits.  As the cost of caring rises, donations and government funding dwindle, nonprofits are seeking more ways to generate income.  Without the same requirements of a corporate board and stockholders, nonprofits may be more flexible in financial matters while retaining their tax exempt status and continuing to collect financing from various sources.

Until rules and regulations catch up with the growing common ground between profit and nonprofit organizations, there may be lack of clarity as charitable nonprofit organizations operate social business enterprises and subsidiaries.  Self monitoring along with public transparency is needed for members and donors to maintain trust in charitable causes.  Investors with an interest in community welfare and sustainability look for financial profit as well as social ROI.  New rules will eventually be created to deal with profitable practices of nonprofits and charitable work of for-profits.  Transforming practices and stereotypes can begin now.

See related research from Stanford, Wharton Business School and University of Minnesota professors describing for-profit and not-for-profit stereotypes.

Fundraising as Sacred Exchange

People who give money to a cause expect a return.  Something good will get done.  Something important will happen because I gave.  At first glance, it seems like the basic contract. But look at the fine print.  Much more is being exchanged that just money for a good deed.

Different currencies change hands in a single donation.  In addition providing a charitable service, a wise donor will require trustworthiness and competence from an organization. There may also be an expectation that respect or social status will be delivered along with a tax-deductible receipt.

Corporate donors may expect added business or customer referrals and endorsement of their product to be part of the exchange. A photo opportunity to enhance the company’s image or recognition in the nonprofit newsletter may also be part of the deal.  Rarely explicit, these added benefits are often part of an unspoken agreement.

Charitable organizations may also ask for more than just money.  There may be a need for technical assistance or intellectual capital in the form of demographic information and research.  A nonprofit group may also benefit from association with a trusted corporation that is known to give only to worthy organizations, encouraging others to give as well.  The expectation that a gift will continue to be supplied in coming years is sometimes only acknowledged when it is not renewed.

It is the trust and good will involved that makes an exchange between charities and donors sacred.  Will strings be attached or hidden agendas be promoted? Is a promise conditional? In the language of Adam Grant (Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success), is each party a giver, taker or matcher?

With lines blurring between for profit and not for profit organizations, desired outcomes and resources may be shared by donors and charities. Communication networks, workspace and equipment, legal or marketing expertise may be used by both.  Until existing laws are updated and contracts are clarified, mutual respect and trust is needed to insure fairness and efficiency in the work we do together…

Unless the sacred trust of partnership produces a better relationship and outcome than measured transactions.  Maybe the positive regard, confidence and readiness to give more on both sides is able to create a good that goes beyond our best strategic plans.

When something beyond what is approved by our lawyers and accountants is born, a life greater than our own may come to be. A new creativity and collaboration may lead us into a sacred future we aren’t able to imagine when our giving is limited to a safe 50% that requires personal benefit before giving more.

Associational Funding

Responsible corporations are funding good work around the world, but especially in local communities where they do business.  Giving to organizations with members that do business with you just makes good sense for any company.  It is a good way to say “thank you” to customers and a good way to attract new customers.  The connection with a social network of any group and positive reputation through the network can build brand loyalty and satisfy the desire for companies that are doing well to also do good.

Even when members of an organization don’t have the resources to add a great deal to the financial bottom line of a company, the connection still contributes to social benefit goals of the company. If their work is known and appreciated in the larger community, this builds good will with citizens aware of the funding provided.  Many grant foundations now require nonprofit organizations to collaborate with each other to make services more efficient.  This ties small organizations with larger ones and groups serving different neighborhoods together.

If a group of 20-30 people can help a corporation achieve its community involvement goals, an organization of 300 members may be given priority in receiving funds from a concerned corporate sponsor.  Now imagine an association of 100 nonprofit organizations with an average membership of 50-100 members each.  Corporations are willing to grant larger gifts as a partner with the association. Gifts directed toward an association of organizations also hold greater promise of social return due to the cooperation of groups to coordinate efforts and avoid duplication.

Assuming social ties are meaningful in an association of nonprofits, the company benefits more from a larger network of groups.  When the association includes customers of the company, there is even more incentive to support the missions represented by groups in the association. Social networks are valuable to any marketing plan.  Greater trust within the network increases its value as a resource for word of mouth marketing.

The time has come for community benefit organizations to band together and recognize the value of their extended network of combined membership.  This multimillion dollar asset can be used to fund every good cause represented in the association. Social connections are to be treated as sacred. The best intentions of those who have gathered to do good can be supported from profits earned in the neighborhoods where they live.

Many word of mouth marketing systems have been established by different corporations to build their customer base.  Few marketing systems have been designed to nurture the social capital of neighborhoods and communities providing customers. With careful attention to community values and relationships, an association of groups can be created that is held together by mutual benefit and shared financial support.

Develop a cooperative association in your community that will help each group serve the community better and increase the amount of funding available.  Structures now exist for an association to direct corporate funding without the need to write a grant, pass legislation or request donations. Let’s learn to use the invisible assets already existing among us.

The Allurement of Private Enurement

IRS 501 code reads, “The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a § 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any managers agreeing to the transaction.”

Legal judgments on what this regulation means have been nebulous at best because it deals with invisible assets in relative terms.  It may be simple to count the dollars one receives, but but not so easy to measure the trust, influence, authority, good will, promises, teaching, gifts, relationship advantages, shame or gratitude that are connected to money received by members of an organization.  The term “inurement” is so much of a mystery that WordPress doesn’t even provide spelling for the word.

Although legal considerations matter since a nonprofit organization can lose or fail to obtain tax exempt status for violation of the private inurement code, the greater danger may be a loss of trust and transparency among members/supporters of an organization.  The negative results are more felt than proved on a specific budget line and can be harmful to much more than an organization’s tax status designation.

At the core of private inurement is a practice of using the assets of a nonprofit organization for personal gain.  It is often limited to examining the tangible investment of nonprofit funds to create exuberant compensation for paid staff of the organization, but a moral interpretation goes beyond legal definitions to suggest that anyone in leadership may unfairly use their intangible power or leadership over members to influence them is such a way that he or she profits financially as a result.

Leadership is a sacred trust that ought not be entangled with suspicion or mixed motives.  When considering a profit/nonprofit partnership, there is always the possibility that as members of a community enter business arrangements within the social network, there may be charges of private inurement, or using the organization for personal benefit.  This can happen when an auto mechanic, real estate agent, financial planner, construction contractor or Mary Kay representative does business within a congregation or nonprofit organization.

We may argue with a minster or nonprofit CEO who strongly influences their group to contract with their own family members to perform maintenance on properties owned by the nonprofit at a fee that is far beyond normal or for services that are never rendered.   We would probably not, however, complain about a son or daughter providing music lessons for a reasonable fee to members of the group (as long as no undue pressure is applied by leaders), or about the leader of a group selling books he or she has authored.  When members of an organization freely choose to do business with one another, the normal conflicts of commerce may arise, but the burden of unfair advantage among members should not be an issue.

Care must be taken to level the playing field of opportunity for all and ensure that no one benefits simply because of their position.  It is difficult to establish rules since the connection among friends is a primary dynamic of relationship marketing and coexists with more formal relationships and informal power within organizations.  One possible strategy is to be sure the organization benefits from any commercial endeavor and then the organization can choose ethically and legally how a leader would be compensated rather than allowing a leader to act independently with unlimited range of profit through the organization.

Don’t Just DONATE to what you believe in. INVEST in it.

With rising costs for charitable work and a decline in giving during difficult economic times, every dollar you dedicate to doing good needs to produce the greatest SSROI (Social/Spiritual Return on Investment).  Evaluating the work and efficiency of any nonprofit endeavor is important to knowing your effort makes the greatest difference.

Every donation, whether a one time or regular gift, is gone once spent in promoting your mission.  This creates the need for continual fundraising efforts to maintain ongoing work.   New donors are needed as inflation, growth in outreach and attrition of donors demand more dollars.  The perpetual work of fundraising keeps donors involved and informed, but also uses valuable staff and volunteer time to keep programs moving forward.

Some investments in your organization’s work can provide repeated returns for a single effort. This is the purpose of contributing to an endowment fund.  With low interest rates and a need for cash flow to maintain the mission, endowment funds require a large balance and produce a small return.  Investments in an endowment fund cannot be spent and are always at risk.

The nature of a social business enterprise is to create ongoing income and growth in financial resources over time.  Just as any profitable business increases in value and provides income for owners, employees and shareholders, a cause based social enterprise can grow and provide ongoing income when successful.  This residual income reduces the need for repeated fundraising events and campaigns.

When considering a social business enterprise to produce residual support for your organization, the social and spiritual return on investment must be evaluated in light of the original investment of time and money.  Running a typical business requires managing products, people or property, providing services, keeping records and customer service or startup costs.  A large investment is generally counter productive regardless of income generated for your cause since the time, money and risk associated with it distracts from the focus on your mission.

Every organization, however, has one valuable asset that can be invested for the common good.  It is less obvious than their financial resources, but may be worth even more to your mission. The social connections you share with each other and others outside the group create an affinity network of trust and communication.  In today’s marketplace, this social network is highly valued by corporations willing to pay for the opportunity to introduce their own business to your members.

Never place the integrity and relationships of your organization at risk of being harmed by commercial interests by corporations that operate according to typical marketing methods of deception, guilt, shame, greed, fear, enticement and pressure to “buy” your members loyalty.  These forces are so common in marketing efforts, we have come to accept them as normal and may be blind to the harm they can do to a community with a shared commitment to a common cause.

Invest your social capital carefully and wisely.  Don’t put your most valuable asset at risk of being lost or weakened.  Measure the potential social/spiritual return on investment in terms of the good that may be accomplished, care for relationships in your community, and financial support to accomplish your goals.

With careful planning, you can safely invest your social capital through voluntary participation in a low key marketing enterprise that generates significant support for your mission without risk to relationships, reputation, or the cause you serve.  The right social business enterprise can even strengthen relationships in your group through collaborating for the common good and connect you with new people in your community.

Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi

Born March 3, 1882, died January 18, 1949, Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi was a was a businessman and con artist in the U.S. and Canada better known as Charles Ponzi.  His name is now a code word used to describe the questionable business schemes of Charles Ponzi.  Anyone who considers social networking and deals in public trust should be aware of practices that can direct even worthy endeavors toward becoming a ponzi scheme.

The primary nature of a ponzi scheme is collecting money from people while promising return that will come from money to be collected from other people, who will receive return from money to be collected from other people…. etc.   Two realities make this illegal unsustainable and fraudulent.   One reality is that the “other” people that money is to be collected from eventually run out and everyone still expecting a return has lost their investment with no way to recover it.   The second reality is that there is no real business of substance that is creating income for investors outside of new money from new investors.

Entering a legitimate profit/nonprofit partnership is not a ponzi scheme if there is a real business venture earning actual income.  Even if the profit from sales or services is layered and shared by many participants in the business, it is not considered a ponzi scheme.   Profits are always shared unequally among stakeholders in any business.  CEO’s, VP’s, managers and even customers (by way of rebates, discounts, referral rewards, etc) can share in company profits.  There is always a “pyramid” structure that pays out profits by some set of salary, employment or commission standard.  If the standards for rewarding stakeholders in a real business operation are transparent and each party agrees as part of their participation, it is a contractual arrangement that can benefit all.  Some will always receive more than others depending on the agreed upon structure at the time of employment, sale or investment.

But Charles Ponzi has brought to light more subtle forms of betrayal than the blatant illegal sealing of funds under false pretenses.  The success of his practices reveal the nature of social connections and human nature that made it possible for him to steal 20 million dollars from people by 1920 after arriving in the United States from Italy in 1903 with just $2.51 in his pocket.  Although he died in poverty after spending many years in prison, he taught us much about how to use people for personal gain.

Ponzi was an expert in getting people to act from a spirit of greed and the feeling of being treated “special”, better than others.  He used the power of claiming to have “secrets”, allowing certain people into the “in crowd”, promising something for nothing, and inspiring others to take great risks.  He was able to leverage good will, trust, fear, statistics and immediate rewards to gain a fortune.   Those used were often the most trusting or most desperate.   These same pressures can be used in even legal sales, services and investment opportunities.   They are no more noble in real business than they are in a ponzi scheme.

When working with nonprofit organizations, the opportunity and approval for abuse can be even greater since it is “for a good cause”.   Also, supporters of a good cause are often more trusting and abuse of funds may not be discovered as quickly because many donors/participants are involved and may not be seeking personal reward.  This makes the need for high standards and ethical principles even more critical when joining nonprofit and for profit endeavors.

Who wins in a profit/nonprofit partnership?

Social Business has become a term describing any enterprise that serves the common good and creates a profit at the same time.   The business world is learning that what is good for people and the planet is often good for business as well.  To be sustainable, business must integrate social networks and serve other interests alongside the financial bottom line.  A true social business attends to the needs and concerns of everyone in the marketing system.  Everyone is respected as a stakeholder and treated fairly with opportunity to benefit from business transactions.

In a partnership including more than company employees, management and stockholders or owners, benefits are mutual for all participants.  Goals are modified so that everyone who contributes to the work of the business profits from any success.  Even the definition of success may change as profit comes to mean more than monetary.  Google and other social media businesses demonstrate the value of treating everyone with meaningful advantages.  Subprime mortgage derivatives and credit default swaps that show little regard for homeowners, investors and the larger community demonstrate what can happen when justice, trust, integrity and care are not employed for the benefit of all.

Balancing social and financial profits takes on survival value for businesses in a world that is becoming more conscious of hidden or external costs to consumers, workers, communities and environment. This balance is also needed for any nonprofit project that requires material resources to fulfill it’s mission.  If a nonprofit chooses to partner with a for profit company, it is important that the goals, needs and health of each is addressed.  In an ideal partnership, the for profit company will benefit from growth of their business at the same time that the nonprofit organization will grow in effectiveness by using commercial profits and resources to meet their own goals and expand their impact.

Until both groups understand their need for each other, each will operate from the assumptions of competition and scarcity rather than belonging and abundance.  Every decision or policy will be measured by who gains he most and who loses the most.  Suspicion and self interest will poison the relationship.  Results will not best serve either the social good or business interests when they are viewed in opposition to one another.

So the answer is that everyone wins.  Policies, attitudes and practices that give attention to all stakeholders provides for the most sustainable social business.  The strongest social enterprises will be those that are financially sound.  The strongest companies are those that work according to the ethical, moral, social and spiritual values that guide most nonprofit organizations serving a cause greater than their own existence.

The next question is to find those who are willing to play a game where everyone wins.

Ministry as Business or Business as Ministry?

We get suspicious when faith and money are mixed.  Thoughts of a greedy Judas Iscariot, gold in the Vatican, or Jim and Tammy Baker’s Heritage USA Theme Park come to mind.  Add the prospect of business and you come up with New Era, the investment/fundraising pyramid scheme fraud of a generation ago. Or we might think of an honest but failing religious thrift store, job training endeavor or private school that always seems to operate in the red in need of donations to be bailed out.  Best to keep faith and business separate. Far away from each other to avoid contamination of either.

One of the most exciting stories in the gospels is in John 21 when Jesus tells the disciples to throw their net on the other side of the boat after catching nothing all night.  Immediately they had a catch of 153 large fish.  The excitement was not just the pleasure of catching fish, but the income Jesus produced for career fisherman who had gone back to work after the crucifixion. In the book of Job, God rewarded a rich man, Job, with twice the wealth he once had, after going bankrupt.  The apostle James writes that God takes an interest in business endeavors when he teaches us to say, “If God wills”, then we will go into this city or that city, do business there and make a profit.

So God seems to have the courage to mix business and faith, even though the human heart is sorely tempted to love mammon or God, to pursue one or the other.  He allows the freedom for us to go off base and fail in business or in our faith as each seems to operate by different rules.  Divine guidance even seems to enjoy leading us into that very conflict.

Maybe so we can learn.  Learn what’s important and what’s not, what we need and what we don’t, what is right and what’s wrong with us.  We may even learn something of God’s nature as the One who marries our own desires, strategic planning and hard work to Divine blessing and provision.

One point of wisdom is recognizing the difference between doing ministry as business and doing business as ministry.

When we do ministry as a business, the bottom line is financial sustainability and profit.  When business principles determine the final decision as we are dealing with human lives, spiritual values, personal relationships and God’s reputation, our plans often fall short of both business and spiritual goals.  Compromises may include management and presentation of facts in a way that promote a successful material outcome.  It might be advantageous to cut off questions or demand order/compliance as a condition of participation in order to make a venture prosper.  Common kindness, generosity, sacrifice and honesty may cost too much.  We can’t allow some ministry practices or principles of justice and mercy because they might jeopardize the support needed to carry on ministry at all.  That’s ministry as a business endeavor.

When we do business as ministry, however, principles of justice and mercy, honesty, compassion and stewardship determine what must be done.  St. Paul was in the tent-making business.  His preaching made him unpopular enough to be stoned and put in jail more than once.  This doesn’t help your brand or maximize human resources.  Choices are made to do business in a way that enables and encourages ministry.  What will create the best social/spiritual environment?  What decisions result in the multiplication of good works and increase wisdom of the community?   Which practices reveal faith and hope by example?  These aren’t simple questions to answer, but they are in the forefront rather than the typical concerns a board of directors might have.

Doing ministry as ministry and business as business may be less complicated, but doesn’t follow the stories of fishermen, tentmakers, farmers and businessmen recorded in Scripture.  Doing business as ministry requires the creativity and courage to find wholeness in all we do with clear priorities.  It demands freedom from fear and tradition.

Converting Social Capital to an Economic Resource

No conversion of social capital into financial capital is valid unless the value of social capital increases in the process.  This is common sense from a practical perspective.  If your connections, good will, hope and trust diminish, you lose the core of future productivity.  The energy becomes negative and not only hinders any hope of financial gain, but decreases what is needed for growth.

On a deeper level, however, if relationships are harmed in the process of converting social assets into financial support for programs, staff or facilities, you have just betrayed yourself as an organization.  The heart, the core purpose and life energy of an organization established to good must first do good for it’s own members.  To offend, divide or harm members in our attempt to do good is to violate the basis of what we claim to stand for.

Individuals may certainly disagree and even choose to come and go based on the changing direction of organizational goals.  This is different than seeking financial gain at the expense of social capital that has been built up over a long period of time.   Whenever social capital is redeemed to make a step forward, relationships should be strengthened at the same time, increasing the value of relationships used for advancement.

An example of increasing social capital at the same time it is used to accomplish a goal or it is converted into material benefits is when the group can feel a corporate pride in what is being accomplished  through the work, expectations, compromises made in the conversion.  Another gain in social assets can be seen when the visible result of using relationships to accomplish something of lasting value attracts new membership or deepens the commitment of current members.  Skills developed in converting social capital into tangible assets without harming mutually beneficial connections becomes an additional value to the organization in the form of new skills, experience and knowledge.

The joy of spending time together, trustworthiness that is maintained, willingness to sacrifice for hope of future benefits, ability to manage conflict, keeping primary purposes and values in focus, collaboration, use of individual gifts and making space for differences are essential to the health of any organization.  To be diverted away from these benefits in order to meet any fundraising goal or employ a new strategy is an unacceptable risk.

The nature of our social and spiritual life together will change.  Different priorities will arise.  New learning and goals will arise.  New methods of accomplishing the purpose we came together are necessary.  Our relationships will be tested.  But know that social capital is not to be squandered on an ambition that reduces the care and concern everyone feels for the organization, it’s work, and each other.

Be sure a careful accounting is being made with every change or challenge to the equilibrium of your group.  Never place such value on what can be seen or counted in monetary terms that securing it places your reason for existing at a risk that is too great.