Unique ‘MBWO’ Fundraising Approach Leads Opportunity Village to New Partnerships

Posted by PJ Reeves on

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Currently celebrating its 60th Anniversary with a Year of Celebrations, Opportunity Village is the leading nonprofit organization serving Nevadans with intellectual disabilities. Long known as “Las Vegas’ Favorite Charity,” Opportunity Village is also an innovative leader of cultivating partnerships that benefit both the not-for-profit organization and a diverse group of community for-profit businesses.

Within the last month, the nonprofit organization announced partnerships with four vastly different businesses; a potential National Hockey League franchise for Las Vegas, a taxicab company, one of the country’s leading timeshare companies and one of the Southwest’s largest auto retailers.

Although the details of each partnership are unique, each began through an out-of-the-fundraising-box approach developed by Linda Smith, Associate Executive Director of Opportunity Village. She researched MBWA (Management By Walking Around) strategies and determined that we need to MBWO: Manage By Walking Outside. Smith removes the oft-used fundraising method of requesting specific sums of money while sitting in an office and instead focuses upon getting out into the community, speaking to businesses leaders, and tailoring proposals to help businesses meet their specific needs.

“We need to walk outside our own industry to see what is going on in the corporate world and align ourselves appropriately. For example, with the NHL I met the person working on bringing the franchise to Las Vegas at a gathering and we started talking. I could have asked for a $10,000-$20,000 one-time donation and in return we would promote their tickets to donors. Instead, I considered what they needed – which was to sell seats,” Smith said.

Her proposal: Opportunity Village would receive a $1 donation for each seat sold. The potential result, depending upon the number of tickets sold and contingent upon the NHL awarding Las Vegas the franchise, would benefit Opportunity Village $750,000 in the first year for programs and the opportunity for a new NHL team to become involved in the community. “Had I asked for $100,000 or even $10,000 I would have probably received a yawn and ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Instead, we now have a mutually beneficial friendship with legs,” Smith said.

“We took the same approach with the taxicab company. Understanding that cab companies sometimes have image problems, aligning themselves with a charity as reputable as Opportunity Village will immediately strengthen their image,” Smith said. “The idea is that they will ask their riders to donate 25 cents for each ride to help us build homes through our new capital campaign.  This will potentially lead to a friendly conversation between the cabbie and the visitor and demonstrate the taxicab company’s commitment to the community,” Smith continued. “With the auto retailer, they will make a donation of $10 per car sold through a ‘Cars for a Cause’ program, which will help us tremendously considering this retailer sells 25,000 cars per year.”
“We have three or four fundraising opportunities we are discussing with the timeshare folks. All of these things happened because we asked, and we asked in a unique way that would help each business meet a need and help our organization at the same time,” said Smith. “Our supporters truly appreciate this approach.”

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