The Ultimate Buy-In

By Ann Utterback | February 1, 2012

They say that you shouldn’t invest in an organization in which the participants don’t have “skin in the game”. There was a classic story told in which a group was meeting with an investment company to decide if they should make an investment in that company. The group asked the company where the employees had their own personal money. When told the employees had their money in bonds and other investment vehicles other than the investment company at issue, the group left the meeting. Nothing more needed to be said. Why should outsiders invest if those on the inside aren’t investing?

In November, WESST launched a challenge, called the Job Creation Challenge, sponsored by four generous organizations (US Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of the West, along with one anonymous donor). The challenge allowed for donations of $5,000 to WESST to be matched by one of the sponsors, making the amount of the donation $10,000, which is the Job Creator’s level of giving at WESST.

Contagious Generosity

Inspired by the generous sponsors of the Job Creation Challenge, WESST employees at the WESST annual staff meeting decided they wanted to be one of the first to meet the challenge. Not only did they meet the challenge and raise over $5,000 in a matter of days (note: these employees are working at a non-profit and this is NOT a big staff), but they inspired the WESST board to jump into action. The WESST board collectively responded by meeting not just one but two of the challenges. This, in turn, led another board member and her husband to join the frenzy and meet another challenge themselves.

In total, WESST employees and board brought in over $20,000 in a few short weeks at the end of 2011. With the matching opportunities, their investments in WESST totaled over $40,000. Several brand new donors to WESST have also met the challenge, and we are hoping to have our first WESST client meet the challenge soon.

We at WESST have direct access to the incredible clients using our services to start and grow their small businesses. We see the hard work and dedication our clients have working to reach their goals of self-sufficiency and success. We, in turn, support our clients with equally hard work and dedication. The fact that we want to be an even larger part of the process by contributing financially to WESST speaks volumes about our level of buy-in.

The end result is that all of our investors in WESST have bought into the concept that with support, WESST will be able to help create more jobs in New Mexico — helping our economy and our communities. And, that belief in WESST is exactly the kind of buy-in that matters most and will help us to produce even more terrific job creation results for all of New Mexico. Thanks to all of our job creators of 2011: the 2011 WESST staff, 2011 WESST Board, Mary and Vic Jury, Dr. Barry and Roberta Cooper Ramo, the Bell Group and National Electric.

Large or small, donations from individuals and businesses are critical in helping us achieve WESST’s mission. If you’d like to learn about the many ways you can Invest in WESST, please visit our Donate page.

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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