The Power of "Up-Sourcing"
We’re told in one breath to put the mission first and to pursue positive change with single-minded dedication. In the next breath, nonprofit executives are advised to run their organization “like a business,” with laser focus on HR, IT, payroll, finance, marketing, customer service and sales.
Don’t just tell your story, say the experts, sell your story!
We hear these sometimes contradictory messages and sense the truth in both positions. But we quickly realize the challenge of covering so many bases with so few players.
In the business world, recruiting top talent for each specific business need is considered a wise investment. In the nonprofit sphere, the same investment is called “administrative overhead,” and remains largely unsupported by donors and grantors alike.
There is a ready solution to this very real problem: professional outsourcing, the delegation of key nonprofit business functions to expert service providers on an extended or permanent contractual basis.
Given that outsourced service models can make high quality talent available on modest hiring budgets, I call it “up-sourcing.” Another way to get more for your money.
But don’t just take my word for it. The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York in its 2012 Guide to Nonprofit Outsourcing put the problem this way:
“Today’s nonprofit executive must regularly demonstrate progress toward achieving the organization’s mission, balance the books, comply with a growing number of financial and other regulatory requirements by federal, state and local governments, help recruit and work with a strong board of directors that keeps the organization accountable while contributing expertise and leveraging resources....Yet, nonprofit organizations often lack sufficient resources or, in some cases, necessary skills or expertise to carry out key management functions critical in order to sustain the organization and pursue its mission.”
Outsourcing one or more key functions, the authors conclude, gives nonprofit managers a way to gain the expertise, experience and economies of scale offered by specialized service providers. In other words, it’s not just about saving money, but about improving mission delivery.
The LANO network was built to facilitate partnership and to provide, among other benefits, an opportunity for nonprofits and service providers to meet on equal footing. LANO’s Consultant Directory is one venue for this exchange of information, as is the Member News Blog.
In an effort to support the trend in “up-sourcing,” and to highlight LANO’s deep member resources, I’ll be posting a series of blogs featuring companies that stand ready to serve nonprofit organizations.
First up, Puryear IT, LLC, of Baton Rouge, founded by Dustin Puryear and providing a range of information technology service and support for nonprofit clients.
Here's what Dustin has to say about his business:
MM: Why should a nonprofit consider Puryear for outsourced IT?
DP: First, we are able to provide a fixed-fee IT management service that includes server, desktop, network, and CIO support. Second, we work with partners to ensure you get discounted pricing on software, cloud services, and hardware that are only available to nonprofits. Third and finally, we have a deep understanding of the long-term strategic needs in budget-focused organizations.
MM: How do you serve an established client?
DP: The preferred nonprofit service model is a fixed-fee IT management package that lets you define a specific percentage of your operational annual budget to all IT expenses, including service and equipment.
MM: What do you think makes for good corporate / nonprofit partnerships?
DP: Customers that listen to us as much as we listen to them. Both parties bring their own experiences and knowledge--I think it's best when we are able to leverage one another.
MM: Why are you in the IT business, anyway?
DP: I'm a problem-solver by nature. That's why I started the company. I love looking at big picture problems and finding the right mix of technology and management to help make things better.
MM: How can a nonprofit organization contact you?
DP: Email is the best way! I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org