Twice a year, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) hosts approximately 40 wounded, ill, and injured servicemen and women for a week of healing and adaptive sports in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We invite these athletes and their family members to join us at no cost to them. All expenses are taken care of, including travel, lodging, meals, gear rentals, and sports instruction. It doesn’t cost the participants anything, yet the monetary value of each camp is $1500-$2000 per person. We have even been able to fly in athletes from around the country and even the Philippines!
How does a small non-profit with minimal staff afford to do this and still keep its doors open? In addition to relying heavily on volunteer staff, donations and grant funding, DSES works extensively with community partners to keep expenses low. In this post, I will discuss these partnerships.
When putting on an event of any size, you need venues, supplies, food, etc. And the goal is always to put your best foot forward while keeping costs to a minimum. One way to keep these costs down is to engage in partnerships.
In a small community, there are a limited number of outfitters and caterers all fighting for the same business. Through relationship and partnership building, it is possible to share the small business ‘pie’ and mutually benefit. Over the years, DSES has developed partnerships with several caterers, several outfitters, and several lodging establishments. Also, partnerships can be helpful for attracting people to your services. To bring military athletes to our remote area, we have partnered with Wounded Warrior Battalion West and several different VA facilities and support groups. This enables us to expand the reach of our mission and serve more athletes, as well as keep costs down.
Why do we get partners? Is it simply because it is a convenient way to support the troops? For some, this is certainly part of the reason; it is a worthy cause. Is it for the advertising and exposure? Again, for some it is. Is it due to our relationships? Some of our best partnerships started with a personal connection. Despite the variety of reasons businesses have, it is at least in part due to DSES being good partners. DSES strives to make all partnerships mutually beneficial, keep communication lines open, and always be gracious and provide exceptional service.
As DSES’ reputation as a good partner has grown, we have switched from pursuing partners to being pursued. Not only do we have events that recur annually, guaranteeing repeat business, but we have contact with a large number of potential customers, so the word of mouth advertising generated can be significant. I will talk more in the next post about some of my suggested guidelines for establishing successful partnerships.
If you are interested in learning more about any of our partners or would like to become one of our partners, please leave a comment below. Join the conversation!