The Armenian EyeCare Project, in Newport Beach, Calif., sends ophthalmologists to Armenia to provide exams, eyeglasses, surgery, and other treatments that help people with visual impairments.
But like so many charities, the EyeCare Project has struggled during the recession.
Roger Ohanesian, a second-generation Armenian American who founded the charity, knew he needed fund-raising help. Then he heard about the Gerson Lehrman Group. The 12-year-old company has built a global business by offering to arrange consultations with experts on whatever a client needs. Companies pay a flat fee for the service; Gerson Lehrman pays the experts an hourly fee.
Gerson Lehrman was looking to expand its pro bono services to nonprofit groups, and at an employee’s recommendation, it has been providing the Armenian EyeCare Project with free phone consultations since June. The charity has benefited by talking with several experts recruited by the company, and all have waived their fees.
For example, phone consultations with a direct-marketing expert are helping the EyeCare Project reduce its fund-raising costs.
The charity has learned how to clean up its donor database by getting rid of wrong addresses and duplicates. The expert has also helped increase the number of Armenian business executives on its list of potential donors.
When its largest direct-mail appeal goes out next month, the charity is expecting a bigger share of people to respond than in the past, and it doesn’t plan to spend as much on the appeals.
In addition, Dr. Ohanesian is seeking a better understanding of issues faced by another important group of potential donors: medical manufacturers that could contribute eye-exam and treatment equipment.
John Donoghue, managing director of Gerson Lehrman, says his company has pro bono arrangements with about a dozen charities like the Armenian Eye Care Project and it’s looking for other worthy charities to help.
“We will not have the capacity to serve all nonprofits,” he says, “but we would love nothing more than for terrific nonprofits to approach us.”