“I want to be the go-to guy in Reno,” Pete Parker says, “putting people who need help in touch with people who can help them.”
A champion of collaborative community efforts since his fraternity fundraising days at the University of Arizona, Parker has spent more than 20 years asking for money for good causes. A few of his current causes include: Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, American Heart Association and the Reno Philharmonic.
“I don’t do it for the business,” Parker says. “I do it for the impact.”
But every one needs to make a living, and Parker is no exception. In 2001, he spotted a community inefficiency in Reno: “I noticed a distinct divide between the corporate community and the non-profit community,” he says. “A gap that still exists.” So he started Parker Development to bridge this gap, and with a few career maneuvers along the way and the addition of a business partner, he rebranded the company as NPCatalyst in January 2011. Billing the company as facilitating “an ecosystem between non-profit organizations and their corporate and individual supporters,” NPCatalyst’s goal is to bring efficiency to the world of charitable giving and volunteerism.
“Our target is to help businesses be more strategic with their giving, whether it’s time or dollars, and leveraging that for community awareness and to magnify the good will,” Parker said. “That also leads to new prospective customers for the businesses, greater community alliances, and impact on employee recruiting and retainment – in part due to the business’ community commitments.”
But it is not easy to start a business in the mist of a recession, especially a business based on people giving money away. NPCatalyst (short for Non-Profit Catalyst) is poised to help businesses efficiently find beneficial giving opportunities and help non-profits express why they are vital and deserve support.
“Fundraising used to be easy, but now it’s hard,” Parker says. “Charity to charity we’re more competitive. The economy dropped and non-profits are calling me now and saying, ‘We’re screwed, and it’s all because of the economy.’ And my response is, ‘No, you’re screwed because you didn’t maintain relationships with those people who supported you.’ Nonprofits are now taking the time to try to get to know their supporters.”
Parker says he sees a new trend in relationship building on the part of non-profits, along with a few other trends:
- Convenience giving – “Online giving, mobile giving, tweet giving where they can see an immediate impact,” Parker says. “But it will never replace the face-to-face giving that’s been going on for centuries.
- Shift from board leadership to just volunteerism – “Not too big of a commitment,” he says, “is kind of where we are now.”
- Local – “I’m seeing people who traditionally supported higher education putting their money toward local, immediate-impact type of things like the Food Bank,” Parker says.
Perhaps the recession cleared out some of the deadwood in the non-profit and business world, Parker says. “I expect by summer that the recession will be much better and things will be clicking for nonprofits.”
And as for NPCatalyst’s future: “I launched NPCatalyst in the middle of the recession on purpose,” Parker says. “I wanted to create such a name for myself and such a portfolio of expertise and experience that when we came out of the recession business would call me and say, ‘Gosh, we finally have money we can donate or staff who can volunteer. You’re the person we know we need to talk to. Let’s start working together.’”
“We’ve accomplished a lot in a year. We impacted over 300 nonprofit organizations,” Parker says. “We probably affected more than $2.5 million in charitable support. That can only lead to $5 million in 2020 and on and on. I’m happy struggling last year and through this year to make that happen, because I want this phone to be ringing off the hook in the next six months with businesses saying get your butt in here and let’s create an opportunity.”