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    Growing a Successful Nonprofit: Accept a Helping Hand

    WendyRoss-01By Wendy Ross

    There are more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area, many of which are robust and thriving. Each of them works hard to deliver human services, education, arts and culture, and health assistance to our communities. Nonprofits play a crucial role in achieving the quality of life and equality of opportunity that so many enjoy in the Bay Area.

    While nonprofit organizations share many characteristics with their small to mid-size business counterparts, they do not always receive the same expert advice and hands-on service they deserve. When it comes to banking relationships, for example, larger banks often take their nonprofit clients for granted by charging high fees and insisting on procedures that make little sense, given the way nonprofits are typically structured. Community banks, on the other hand, are capable of tailoring their services to meet the needs of nonprofits—not the other way around.

    A community banker can take the time to get to know the challenges and complexities of their nonprofit clients, and then simplify transactions and customize services and fee structures accordingly. They go beyond the standard expectation of a banker, often making house calls and going to the organization rather than taking key personnel away from their all-important work.

    Additionally, a community banker can help make business connections through their local network of CPAs, lawyers, insurance brokers, consultants, risk managers and wealth advisors. In this way, a community banker becomes a trusted partner who helps a nonprofit client to grow and thrive.

    Many nonprofits start with a clear cause and attainable goals, but without the guidance and tools necessary to succeed. This lack of resources certainly creates challenges that could be avoided, and access to some thoughtful expertise may be all that they need in order to flourish. Whether it is guidance in fundraising, insight into developing strategic communications, or assistance with budget creation and reporting, working with a bank that provides direction from a specialist in these areas, and many more, could make all the difference.

    Customized services, facilitated connections and expert consultation are just a few benefits that come from banking with a community bank, all of which can help nonprofits to grow and thrive. We encourage all nonprofits to find a banking partner that is as invested in their success, and in the success of our communities, as they are.

    Wendy Ross is the President of Bank of San Francisco. She has more than 35 years of international, commercial, and private banking experience. Ross is a 2002 graduate of Leadership San Francisco and is a board member for numerous Bay Area organizations.