Giving: It’s All About Perspective

By Ann Utterback | December 8, 2011

We recently had a staff meeting at WESST at which we discussed how our programs, our training classes and consulting services, must be constantly evaluated to make sure they are innovative and relevant. It was stressed that when looking at our programs, we have to think of the programs from the perspective of our clients—what the clients are needing as opposed to what we have been doing for years. What start-up businesses need now can sometimes be different from what was needed even last year. It is evolving, and we have to meet that demand for our clients to help them in this ever-changing business climate.

This talk made me think of our supporters. As a non-profit, WESST only exists because of people and organizations giving us money to do what we do best—helping entrepreneurs from the idea stage to actually starting and expanding their own self-sufficient businesses. As we look at our giving program, we strive to look at that program in a similar way—the point of view of our supporters, our investors. I’m reading a great book by Howard Stevenson, with Shirley Spence, entitled Getting to Giving: Fundraising the Entrepreneurial Way by a Billion-Dollar Fundraiser, which really stresses this point.

What is the perspective of our investors? What we have found is that investors of WESST are demanding the same things of WESST they are wanting from all investments they make whether in the non-profit or the for-profit world. Our investors want to know that the investment they are making is a good one. To answer that question, we have to be able to produce actual, quantifiable results.

This year, we enlisted the support of an outside organization, Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), to help us quantify the actual economic impact our work had on the community. We wanted the big economic picture. The initial study done by MRCOG was done for the greater Albuquerque area alone, and the results are astounding. In the past two-and-a-half years, in a mostly dismal economic climate, we are pleased to announce the work done by WESST produced the following results:

  • 380 New Jobs
  • $19.6 million in personal income
  • $38.4 million in Gross Regional Product
  • $18 million in consumer spending

The plan is for WESST to have MRCOG perform an expanded economic impact study in 2012 to show WESST’s statewide economic impact. Proven results are what WESST investors want, and we’re pleased that our results are, in fact, showing that investing in WESST is not only a good investment but a great investment in our community. And, we can only have these results because of the great individuals and organizations that invested with WESST. That’s our perspective!

About the Author


Ann Utterback

Ann’s involvement with nonprofits began more than 16 years ago and includes extensive experience on the funding side with the J. F Maddox Foundation for the past 13 years. A former litigation attorney, Ann received her J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1993 after obtaining her B.A. in French from Hollins College in 1990.

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