Earlier this year, I read an article in the Boston Business Journal entitled, “Nonprofit Annual Reports Cut the Flash, Save Cash,” by Mary Moore.
Without reading one word beyond this headline, I knew (and you know) what was coming: companies are scaling back the once-mighty and glossy annuals in order to reduce expenses. Maybe they’re going from 6- and 4-C down to 2- and even 1-C. Or they’re reducing page counts. Or they’re abandoning the printed annuals and going online.
Cutting expenses isn’t unique to nonprofits. But the article did make me wonder if print buyers for nonprofits have unique issues.
I put this question to about a dozen buyers in the nonprofit sector, and everyone mentioned price sensitivity. One person, Diane Dragoff, explained her buying philosophy in more detail.
Diane is the Purchasing & Facilities Manager for United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. (She is also a Board member of our member-based group, Boston Print Buyers.) I asked Diane three questions:
MD: What are your specific, unique concerns, as a print buyer for a nonprofit?
- Keeping pricing as low as possible.
- There is a concern from the perception of donors that the (print) materials might be too luxurious looking. For example, coated stocks are usually thought of as “high cost,” even though a house coated may be less expensive than an uncoated.
- We are always concerned with direct mail issues, such as list hygiene, postage, mailing efficiency and USPS rules.
MD: What do you look for when sourcing commercial printing and/or mailing/fulfillment?
- Price, service and quality…like any other customer.
- We also look for a commitment to be a vendor-partner; that is, we want to work with print vendors who want to learn what we do and who will make suggestions that help our line of business.
MD: Are there certain guidelines – or an actual checklist – you choose to use or have to use for finding print partners?
- We look at certifications, vetting by government or other organizations.
- We look for anecdotal or other evidence of companies that employ people from within our service area neighborhoods.
- We also examine training programs that the firms may be involved in, to bring young people into employment, since youth opportunity is one of our areas of interest.
- The dollar value of the work also comes into play, since we also have the ability to output our most basic documents in-house.
Diane added this footnote: If you want other information about this UW, please visit their site at www.supportunitedway.org. (By the way, they’d love to have people join their cause by volunteering, supporting or advocating on their behalf.)
If you source print for a nonprofit, do you have a set of guidelines for this responsibility? I’d love to hear from you. Please use the Comments section for today’s column.
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