Partnership for Non-profits Yields Exponential Results

ERA teams with Chicago organization to provide members more savings

In business, there are times when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is an example of how Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) and Chicago-based, Back Office Cooperative (BOC) have forged a partnership to leverage specific vertical expertise and facilitate significant back office cost reductions to nonprofit organizations.

Since 2011, I’ve been working with BOC, a shared service membership organization, which brings organizations together to create buying power, in a partnership to assist members with their P&C Insurance costs.  For the last several years, BOC membership was about 34 Chicago area nonprofits, —and offered cost reduction opportunities in areas such as supplies, energy, insurance, finance and accounting.  But there were gaps in service to members, programs were not optimal, and BOC’s ability to grow was limited.

Identifying Value Drivers

As an ongoing business advisor to BOC, I stayed in touch and assisted BOC with connections they needed to fill some gaps.  I kept in front of the challenges that BOC faced. It became clear to me that ERA could assist BOC with long-term sustainability, if BOC would agree allow me to utilize the expertise of ERA in a much bigger way. Key to my plan: incorporate ERA nationwide presence, along with ERA expense management, business development, and expense category bench strength to expand member services, and grow BOC. BOC accepted my proposal in July of 2014. I immediately went to work, looking at the links between what BOC members needed and the value that ERA consultants could provide. By having a foothold in both worlds, Expense Reduction Analysts is now the power behind the services at Back Office Cooperative.

While BOC saved members about $7.5 million between 2008 and end of 2014, going forward with ERA, BOC members are poised to save more and free up even more money for their missions. Improvements were made in the Office Supply and Food Supply Group Purchase Plans, ERA set up a new Merchant Card Fee plan, and members engaged ERA for savings in Cleaning Services, Waste, Telecom, Wireless, IT, Janitorial Supplies, Payroll Processing and more.  BOC continues to provide high value services in Energy and Back Office Finance & Accounting.

The partnership has been a win-win.

Growth in membership means that ERA can assist with evaluating even more buying power for all members. This year BOC has already grown by five new members.   Higher value group plans produce more savings to these many organizations that continue to face funding crunches as they focus on delivering services to those in our society who are most in need. The results have been significant, and I expect the new-and-improved BOC to continue to do great things for our community.

BOC and ERA have formed a super power, and this exciting relationship will deliver opportunities for nonprofits nationwide.

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