Update: We’ve decided to match all partner contributions when we make our monthly donations.
Vendor partnerships are something we’ve always been conflicted about. As an agency, when we talk with a lot of vendors about potentially helping out our clients with a particular need, the partner manager often leads the conversation with whatever % commission we as an agency would get and something has always felt off to us about that.
I think part of the reason that feels off to us is that we feel like the merchants we work with are our true partners. So that number could be 0-100% and it wouldn’t make a difference whether we recommended that vendor to one of our clients or not. It’s great that these outside companies want to establish some sort of relationship, but for us, the relationships with our clients trump every other company relationship and a monetary incentive plays no role in our recommendations.
So our common response to vendors that propose partnerships has always been “that’s great that you offer whatever X% but it’s not going to affect what we recommend to our merchants”. And because of that, we’ve turned down almost every partnership because we don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of setting it up and the potential conflict of interest that it could create. Generally, when we recommend a particular vendor to our clients, we just tell the merchant to work directly with the vendor to get their account set up and we’ll do the technical implementation.
But on the other hand, we do see the value in having partnership agreements in place with vendors to have more of a direct channel for feedback, support, and information to benefit our clients. So we’ve been thinking about how to handle this. The question became: How can we form partnerships without creating even the hint of conflict of interest?
So that got us to brainstorming… In the past, in lieu of a holiday gift to our clients, we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Kiva to give gift cards to our clients. Not knowing whether people are gluten-free, vegan, or anything else free, we didn’t see any sense in sending some sort of gift basket that might just rot in the break room. And its been really cool to see clients actually go use their gift cards to support specific causes.
Partner For Good
So in that vein, we’ve decided to create a program that we call Partner For Good. It’s kind of a play on words and has a dual meaning:
- We want to create partnerships that benefit the greater good of society.
- We want our partnerships to be long-term relationships.
So as part of this program, we will donate 100% of the proceeds from any enterprise partnership directly to different non-profits every month. The non-profits may range from things like international aid, environmental programs, or homeless shelters. We’ll just try to avoid anything politically affiliated.
For the first month, we tallied up all of our partnerships commissions from ever since Jan 1, 2018, and were able to make a sizable donation to the following non-profits nominated by our employees:
This is still a new concept we’re trying out and over time we’d like to come up with other, non-monetary, ways we can partner with non-profits and charities. Thank you to our founding partners, Nexcess and Mage Mojo for making these donations possible and we look forward to being able to form new partnerships and be able to make more donations in the future.
Also published on Medium.