MNA Vendor Partnership Process
Our Approach to Vendor Partnerships
The Montana Nonprofit Association (MNA) is the only professional organization in Montana that serves exclusively 501(c)(3)’s. The primary purpose of MNA is to work as an advocate for our members. Accordingly, MNA actively seeks partnerships with vendors who can provide needed products and services for Montana’s nonprofit sector. When MNA considers the creation of a new cost savings program, we use an approach that we refer to as the three legged stool. Our experience has shown us that the strongest vendor partnerships incorporate and embrace the following three components:
- Member Benefit – Partnerships must provide MNA’s nonprofit members
exclusive access to discounted or enhanced goods and services that they
could not get otherwise on the open market. MNA is particularly
sensitive to this component given our mission.
- Vendor Benefit – Partnerships must make sound business sense for the
vendor. Vendors benefit by gaining targeted access to the third largest
economic sector in Montana and an exclusive product or service
endorsement through MNA.
- MNA Benefit – Partnerships must provide MNA (the organization) with an income stream to further support our mission and membership. MNA’s business model is structured to maximize earned income to enhance long-term organizational sustainability. Since MNA is a membership organization, at a minimum all vendors seeking endorsements of MNA will maintain an annual membership at the appropriate level.
It is our intent to structure all vendor partnerships based on the three legged stool and work diligently to see them thrive over time. In all vendor partnerships, MNA commits to investing time and energy in marketing and promoting the vendor partnership and providing connections to our members. In return, we ask that vendors view this relationship approach as an investment in nonprofits and MNA that will pay great dividends in the future for all involved. If vendor partnerships are well structured, MNA and our members will thrive and the vendor’s program will succeed.
The nonprofit sector in Montana is large and growing. Currently, there are over 6,000 charitable nonprofits in Montana registered with the IRS. Over 2,000 of these organizations have annual gross receipts greater than $25,000. In a recent 12 month period, the charitable sector contributed $1.1 billion in wages to Montana’s economy. Only retail trade and local government had a larger wage contribution than the charitable nonprofit sector in Montana.
Founded in 2001, and celebrating our 10th year working for Montana's nonprofits, MNA represents over 600 member organizations employing more than 14,000 Montanan’s. Although the nonprofit sector can be difficult to reach due to isolation and fragmentation, MNA provides a unique connection to the sector given our role as the only statewide organization that represents the entire nonprofit sector. A few MNA facts:
- average greater than 100 new members annually since 2005 – we expect this growth to continue
- 90+% membership retention rate – our members are extremely loyal
- 38% of our members are located outside of the 7 population centers – true statewide reach
For more information, see MNA’s Sector Report and Member Mapping Report.
Vendor Partnership Process
MNA uses a standard process to identify potential programs to offer to our members. That process begins with periodic polling of our membership to identify needs and priorities for products and services. Once a need has been identified, MNA researches vendors that may be able to provide a solution and generally issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit formal proposals. RFPs require interested vendors to outline their scope of services, reputation, references, proposed products and services, price and distribution channels, other benefits to members, earned income for MNA, and other important information. Proposals are then evaluated and a decision is made if an appropriate partner is identified. MNA reserves the right to forego the RFP process if circumstances warrant such an approach.
MNA does not accept unsolicited proposals for discount programs and vendor partnerships. However, we do encourage vendors to contact us to inquire about priorities and to educate us about their products and services. Some programs researched and selected may result in exclusive product promotion arrangements, while others may not. Questions or inquiries should be directed to Brad Robinson, MNA Member Services Director. Vendor materials with letters of inquiry may be sent to MNA, P.O. Box 1744, Helena, MT 59624.