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“Discretion is the better part of valour: When to walk away”, by Rob Heslev.

Posted by mgrenmel

The Investment Committee

As part of the Investment Committee, it is an important task of members to investigate and conduct due diligence on the non for profit organisations to ensure we are partnering with the right and ready organisations. An EOI is the initial contact, before an invitation to meet the Investment Committee to discuss their organisation and how SVP Melbourne could assist them. We then delve deeper and an application is requested before the final recommendation is given by the Investment Committee.   It is an important process that is integral to the SVP Melbourne model. This article is based on a true story and is testament to our processes.

Discretion is the better part of valour: When to walk away.

One of the organisations recommended to the Investment Committee appeared to be doing something extremely valuable and important for their cohort and despite their lacklustre proposal, we decided we’d like to learn more. We asked the CEO to visit and discuss the organisation so we could get to know each other better. The discussions didn’t quite satisfy our requirements but we still admired what they were doing.

Two partners attended a site visit to explain how SVP Melbourne work with investees (not for profits), and explained our unique model of financial contribution as well as skilled professional volunteers who assist in consulting and resourcing our Investee organisations.

The organisation’s team seemed positive and agreed they would submit the second round more detailed proposal. This was given to them with enough time to allow for the holiday season, but despite this and several follow up contacts and extensions of time, they required lots more prompting.

The organisation was very close to the deadline when they requested advice on completing some of the detail of the form… our response was “just complete what you can”. The SVP Melbourne model is flexible and interactive with the organisation as we know they are time and resource poor.

The response arrived – a collection of reports and inadequately completed forms, with most of the detail left off the proposal of how we could work together. We once again explained our process and how we could work together, as we try to be as transparent as possible.   While they were extremely polite in their response, they felt the processes were going to be too onerous for their organisation, which the CEO said “operates flexibly, and changes constantly” – not lending itself to the sort of analysis and planning we’re proposing.

We were a little taken aback by this response, so asked some further questions to confirm their position… maybe we scared them off with our requirements to meet directors, or do OCATS, or complete forms, but they clearly felt under pressure from us.

Consequently, we agreed to leave them to it and withdraw graciously. Maybe we’ve wasted some time with an organisation that’s not a good fit… but better we find out now rather than later.

Sometimes it’s as strategic to say ‘no thanks’ to an organisation as it is to say ‘yes’!