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The synergies and community benefit of business-to-business alliances

By Staff | Jun 1, 2009

In today’s constantly evolving economic atmosphere, all organizations can benefit from thinking strategically and exploring opportunities for business-to-business collaborations.

Lily and Co. and The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum are committed to these types of alliances and fundraising opportunities. The “Positively Precious Program” is an excellent example. Through this program, Lily & Co. purchases previously worn jewelry, stones and fine stemware from customers for liquidation purposes and a portion of the proceeds from these events is donated to community organizations.

Successful relationships develop when the non-profit organization has a well defined, focused mission that rings true to their passion and the business partner feels the same about the ultimate goal of the partnership. Initially these business-to-business relationships are philanthropic in nature.

“The Museum appreciates Lily and Co.’s generosity and ongoing support of the Museum,” reported Dr. Jos H. Leal, Museum director. “Ongoing contributions like this make it possible for the Shell Museum to maintain day-to-day operations while at the same time continually enhancing and expanding Museum programs. Last week, the Museum was presented with the most recent of several ‘Positively Precious Program’ checks.”

“Lily is committed to contributing to the quality of the life on Sanibel. We put this commitment into action in different ways, one of which is investing in the community through partnerships with organizations like The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum,” said Dan Schuyler, co-owner of Lily and Co. and member of the Shell Museum’s Board of Directors. “People have varied reasons for participating; some come into the store because they’ve seen an ad indicating that the Museum will be the recipient of a portion of the proceeds. Others are downsizing and eliminating things they no longer use or they may be looking for cash so that despite their current unemployment status, they can keep financial commitments like a child’s college tuition expenses. No matter what the reason is, we are excited about helping the community. Also, it’s in our best interest that entertainment venues like the Museum do well because that will drive traffic to the Island and hopefully to our store.”

At first, the outcome of a business-to-business relationship might simply be that the corporation is viewed as a community supporter and the not-for-profit enjoys the benefit of funding. Over time, the benefits realized by the non-profit organization might include access to goods and services or an introduction to other potential corporate partners. Benefits realized by the corporate partner might include enhanced public image, higher employee morale, a positive impact on employee recruitment efforts or increased business.

The challenges of the current economic environment aren’t going to change overnight. During the recovery non-profit organizations are actually expected to be a source of relief for the communities they serve. According to the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau, families still plan to take a vacation this summer but they are staying close to home and reducing their vacation budget.

In the case of the Shell Museum, affordable, entertaining, and educational programs make it possible for families to enjoy an outing as part of a day-trip itinerary or vacation get-a-way.

“We are doing all we can to assure that admission pricing is reasonable, the programming meets the needs of the communities we serve, and the Museum experience provides guests with a momentary escape from the hassles of everyday life while at the same time sharing information about the wonderful world of mollusks,” added Dr. Leal.