When people ask me what my role at 1MISSION is and I say I’m the VP of Partnerships, I get a lot of confused looks.
Why does an organization like ours have a VP of Partnerships, anyway? If I worked in a similar role somewhere else, my business cards would likely have the word “development” or “fundraising” on them somewhere. So is my unusual title just a way of being clever or different?
The truth is, partnership really is the philosophy that guides everything we do here at 1MISSION. The way we see it, donors are not merely ATMs that magically dispense the resources needed to do our work. Rather, those who support our work in any capacity – our partners – are actually extensions of our team.
Our partners are the people who fuel and support the work we do in the field. They are ambassadors for the families we serve. They give voice to the communities we love. They advocate, they ride bikes, they build. They do this quietly, faithfully, joyfully. Each and every day, they amaze us.
But to be a true partnership, we know these relationships need to be mutually enriching. We refuse to believe that good feelings (or a taxable benefit) are the only things people can receive by partnering with us.
Instead, we want our partners to feel ownership in our shared mission. We want them to feel pride in our successes and to share in the joy when yet another family gets the keys to their new home. Most of all, we want everyone who partners with us to know they are valued and loved for who they are – not merely for their net worth.
Here are a few practical ways we try to put that guiding philosophy into practice.
When someone joins our monthly giving program, right away we send them an exclusive members-only t-shirt. Then, on each anniversary of their membership, they get a different gift from us as a way of saying thanks. Curious what these gifts are? Well, there’s only one way to find out!
House to House
Every month, more and more realtors are joining this program, committing to give a portion of each commission to help put impoverished families in homes of their own. We outfit these realtors with marketing materials to help them share why partnering with us is a win-win. They also get a client gift they can hand to their clients at each closing.
Bikes Fight Poverty
Over a hundred adrenaline junkies give up countless hours to train for this grueling two-day, 200-mile ride through the desert (or virtually in neighborhoods and gyms). Meanwhile, they raise awareness about the need for housing in places like Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua – and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to do something about it. Not to brag or anything, but we’re pretty sure we offer the best-supported charity bike ride in the country. And probably the most fun, too.
In whatever we do, there is literally no way we could (or would ever want to) accomplish our mission without the thousands of partners who give generously in so many ways. Because of this, it’s truly a joy to spend my days thinking of creative new ways to invite people into our mission – and to keep this guiding philosophy central in our relationship with each partner from day one.