Nonprofit and Business Collaboration: The Pathway to Community Impact

Watch the Interview

Nonprofit and Business Collaboration:
The Pathway to Community Impact

with Kelli Holmes

How Nonprofit and Business Leaders Network for Increased Effectiveness

Kelli C. Holmes Kelli C. Holmes, CEO, and Founder of TEAM Referral Network and TEAM Franchise Corporation has worked with thousands of businesses over the last 30 years. Her focus – to teach business professionals how to develop a successful business based on “Relationship” Marketing. She specializes in educating and supporting professionals on how to GROW their business with relationships and the right referrals for their business. Kelli believes you can do better, smarter business through Relationship Marketing.

The motto of her organization TEAM Referral Network is from the acronym TEAM… Together Everyone Achieves More. TEAM is a professional referral organization that turns success-oriented business people into a strong team of networking professionals. TEAM has opened hundreds of chapters with thousands of members in the U.S. and currently expanding internationally.
TEAM Franchise Corporation was named one of the “98 Brave new Franchises” by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been on its TOP 500 Franchises list for 6 years.

TEAM also has an extraordinary “Community Outreach” program that benefits non-profit organizations. This program has raised many thousands of dollars for the non-profit members of TEAM.

Kelli is the author of “Cracking the Business Networking Code” and a contributing author to the best-sellers “Savvy Women-Revving Up for Success” and “Elevate” – a TEAM collaborative book. She is also a frequent featured keynote speaker at business conferences, formally a consultant for the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), CEO Space Faculty member and has served on many Boards for children’s charities. She is a regular radio and webcast guest and has done many workshops on the topic of “Networking” and “Relationship Marketing”.

TEAM Referral Network is based in La Verne, California, the same city in which she has been a life-long resident and has been a business owner there for over 30 years. Currently, she and her husband of 34 years reside there with daughters Riley (19) and Charlotte (18).

If you were to ask Kelli the root of her success, she would tell you… it is from her faith in God and having a true passion for what she does.

More about Kelli Holmes and Team Referral Network –


Read the Interview

Hugh Ballou: Greetings. Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Over the last seven years, we’ve had fascinating guests. Today’s is a long-time dear friend, Kelli Holmes, who is a substantial influencer in the business world, especially in the worlds of lead generation and networking. Most people don’t really understand the value of networking like Kelli does. We are going to talk about a special passion that we have in helping nonprofits by connecting them with business leaders. It’s not just purely lead generation or fundraising or leadership. It’s a hybrid of how we put two leaders together and create the impact of 10. I just made that up, Kelli. Hope it’s all right.

Kelli, welcome. Just so people have a sense of who Kelli is, tell people a little bit about you and why you’re doing this thing called TEAM Referral Network.

Kelli Holmes: Thanks, Hugh. It’s so great to be here with you. We have been friends for a long time. I’ve really valued your relationship over the years. It’s great to be back on the show with you.

I’ll tell you a little bit about me. TEAM Referral Network and Kelli Holmes are synonymous. I founded the organization 18 years ago. We celebrated our 18th anniversary last week on October 16. That is when we launched the very first chapter right here in La Verne, California, my hometown. Hundreds of chapters of business leaders later and thousands of members, I have had the opportunity to do the work I love for 18 years.

Our goal is simple: put together a group of community business leaders who are usually successful people who want to join with other successful people to be more successful together. Our motto is “Together, everyone achieves more.” It’s designed to marry a great group of people who can help build relationships with each other and build and grow their businesses together. It’s been my privilege to do this for many years. I started it, a very classic example of an entrepreneur mouse trap. How do we give back? How do we build up into the marketing and growth of the business? Marketing has always been my passion in terms of my professional life and a driver as to why I started TEAM.

Hugh: TEAM has taken on more value and meaning over the years. In our nonprofit world, which includes religious organizations, it’s the group synergy. Coming from the world of conducting, it’s the ensemble. The synergy of teams is the non-musical model.

You and I have known each other about 10 years. Just recently, one of your key players who is in Singapore and I were talking about things. She said, “We could do this together.” You and I have been figuring out how to work this into nonprofit business. We birthed an idea of how nonprofits and businesses could magnify the results for both of them through working together.

There has been a common thread over the years in our interviews. One is based on relationships, things happen. Otherwise, we have a business model. Many times, nonprofit leaders don’t think they are running a business when actually we are running a tax-exempt, for-purpose enterprise that has to generate revenue. Otherwise, we can’t do our work.

Let me ask you straight up. This is about business leaders and networks collaborating together. Talk more about what collaboration means. I am not convinced people understand how to do it, and if they do achieve it, what the power is. Talk about that. Why would a nonprofit think about having a network like TEAM Referral Network?

Kelli: I’ll start with collaboration because that is how I built my business as well. I believe in the true element of collaboration versus competition. There is enough business for everybody to go around. You don’t need to compete. Collaboration gives you an opportunity to be stronger together. For me, it’s that side by side relationship. We can go so much further together and help each other out.

In terms of the nonprofit world and how it has really impacted TEAM, from day one, we’ve had our community outreach program. In fact, when I was sitting at my kitchen table with my assistant in early 2002, very pregnant with my youngest daughter, Charlie, we were working together to build the structure and system for TEAM: how it would look, what it would do, our deliverables. I said to my assistant, Raelene, “I can’t wait until we start TEAM Referral Network because in every single chapter, we are going to donate a membership to a local nonprofit or charity that benefits children or families in some way. We will help them connect to an awesome group of business leaders in their community. They will get to know this charity and want to support it and help build it up. We are going to give away hundreds of memberships.” To which, always the voice of reason, she said, “How about we get one chapter up and running before you give away hundreds of memberships?” But it stood there.

The very first nonprofit was Habitat for Humanity, a great nonprofit to bring in. I remember the first build where the chapter got hammers, nails, paint buckets, ladders, and got out there sanding and scraping and painting and nailing. It was such an awesome collaboration with such a wonderful organization. We hit it out of the ballpark right from the get-go, working with our nonprofits.

Hugh: That brings the law of reciprocity to mind. You give away something, and it comes back to you. You gave the membership, and you showed up to be a philanthropist. You’re teaching nonprofit leaders how to be philanthropists with their time and talent as well as their financial resources. I am not sure how either side knows how to have that collaboration. That was a collaboration on steroids.

Kelli: It was great. What was really important to understand is letting business owners know they can give back. If you can create the giveback at the same time as they are marketing and growing their business, isn’t that the highest and best use of their time? I always tell people that entrepreneurs may not have another day in the week to give to a nonprofit. But for us, if we wove their giveback into their marketing time, how cool would it be to kill those two birds with one stone? That was the concept behind that. You can teach business leaders that they can give back and have a meaningful impact. They can fit it into their busy schedule.

Hugh: A lot of corporations endorse volunteer hours for their employees. Some of them pay for a certain number of hours a year. The company Sales Force pays their employees 53 hours a year for service to a nonprofit. That’s paid time. They are encouraged in their off time to be serving. That’s part of the in-kind donations that big companies make.

You’re talking about local entrepreneurs, little businesses who are trying to keep ahead of the curve. The principle you talked about is a sound business principle. They are getting out and building relationships with new people. My Rotary club is not a business networking group; it’s a service group. When I think about real estate or doctors, I think of my friends in Rotary, which is based on relationship.

One question that comes up and often not verbalized from business leaders is: If I am obvious that I am a donor, every nonprofit in town will hit me up for a donation. What I suggest business leaders do is adopt a nonprofit. Serve on a board. Serve on a committee. Give your time, talent, and money as a full philanthropist. How does that play out when people are networking so energetically in your clubs?

Kelli: What’s great about it in the TEAM chapters is they meet weekly. There is a lot to be said for the weekly meeting. A lot of people will question the value of the weekly meeting, and I don’t. I think it keeps people connected. In this opportunity of getting to know these business leaders and the nonprofit together, they really get to buy into the cause.

I will use McKinley Children’s Center as an example. Grace Sanchez, the director of marketing there, is who I wanted to connect you with. They did a recent event that our TEAM chapter participated in where they were trying to buy 150 Chromebooks for the at-risk youth part of their program. It’s a fair chunk of money. McKinley partnered with one of our TEAM members to put on an event, and they raised the money to buy 60 of the 150. That was an amazing event. In one two-hour event where we were networking, hanging out together on Zoom, we all got to see each other and hang out together but give to such a great cause. It was birthed out of the TEAM chapter’s connection between those two people. That type of collaboration happens all the time, and it makes everyone feel good.

Hugh: It’s a win-win. You can see I’m in the Appalachian Mountains in the South. None of us is as smart as all of us. We have our own grammar rules.

Kelli: I like it.

Hugh: We think California is another country.

Kelli: Sometimes Californians think California is another country.

Hugh: That gives the spirit of adventure when we go there. What comes to my mind is nonprofit leaders don’t know how to network. We don’t know how to say, “Let me connect you with someone” for someone else. There is a reciprocity there. If you say, “Let me connect you with somebody,” what are they going to want to do for you? They will want to do it for you.

Kelli: I’ve always said this: they do not teach networking in fundraising school. These directors of development go to colleges and learn how to work in nonprofit environments and raise funds. They are not teaching them one of the most crucial elements of success: the art of building the right relationships, networking, sharing your information, connecting with the right people.

You mentioned it’s a win-win. It’s actually a win-win-win. The nonprofit can benefit from the exposure to the businesspeople in the community. The businessperson feels good when they are supporting a particular cause. What they oftentimes don’t realize, which is why we have to teach the nonprofit world how to network and build relationships, is their boards, volunteer activities, committees, and database is a ripe opportunity for community businesspeople. If you teach nonprofits how to refer business to businesspeople who give clear, concise communication about how they need help growing their business, then you get the referral opportunity, that cyclone going around and around. Everybody else builds better because they are doing it for a cause as well. That win-win-win is pretty cool.

Hugh: You are delving into a deeper understanding. Nonprofits know on the surface what the charity is up to, but they don’t really know how it all works and the value. Part of networking is being a blabbermouth, telling people all about the good stuff your charity has done. We’re not very good at that. We do a lot of good stuff. We just expect people to tell it. We don’t have a system for sharing it. There are a lot of things we can learn by having these collaborative conversations. What do you say to people who say, “I don’t have time for business development?” You’ve heard that before?

Kelli: Of course, we hear it all the time. It’s one of the major objections. My question always ends up being: Our meetings run anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. What else can you do for an hour or so during the week that can make such major connections and give you such amazing opportunities? Honestly, they could spend an hour on social media. Is that going to build them immediate relationships in their communities with people who are willing to generate help, donate, volunteer, refer other people? It’s a confusion in terms of time versus results. I see people spending a lot of time doing things, but are they getting the results they are looking for in that time spent? What happens with TEAM and nonprofits is that partnership and collaboration opportunity really yields results, like 60 Chromebooks being funded.

Hugh: The reason we are emphasizing TEAM is it’s sort of like our SynerVision community. It’s a place where like-minded people can share what they’re doing with other like-minded people and multiply their traction. I had a meeting of one of our team’s start-up leadership cohorts this morning. I just challenged them to define the most outrageous results they could create in five years. It was pretty astounding. Everybody on the call stepped up to the game and was pretty bold. It doesn’t matter if every little I is dotted and T is crossed. It matters that you get out of the foxhole and say there are possibilities ahead. Today, we really need to think in possibility terms.

You and I met at a business growth conference 10 years ago, CEO Space. When I first went in 2006, I paid a lot of money to go. They said, “Don’t ask for anything.” I said, “What? Don’t ask for anything?” There are 500 people. They said, “Go to people. What are you working on? What do you need next? How can I help you?” The brilliance of that is you tell people you will help them. All these people will come back to you. It’s overwhelming. It’s a reversal of networking. That is a fantasy land of possibility thinking, but it really works. It’s how our churches ought to operate.

Kelli: It’s how I operate. It’s how we teach to operate as well. When people are part of a TEAM chapter and are meeting weekly, they are standing up and promoting themselves, but in the networking element where people are connecting, the first 15 minutes of each of our meetings is a networking meet and greet. We of course put other networking events on throughout the year, even during this time. We are doing multiple networking events online where we get people together.

The way I teach when I do speaking or workshops is it’s not about you. Everybody goes, “Great. I came to hear this?” I reiterate the fact that it’s not about you; it’s about them. If you go into a networking event with the thought you will somehow grab a sail or get a client, I would teach you to connect with people and find the right people to build a relationship with. That will lead to many referrals and much opportunity for business versus one client or one sale. It starts with making it about them.

If you remember back when we met, I’m always like, “Hi, Hugh. I’m Kelli. Tell me what you do. I’m excited to hear about it. What is your favorite part of your business?” Before I left the conversation, I would say something to the effect of, “I’d love for us to continue this conversation. Would it be okay if I followed back up with you?” Then I have permission to get back in touch. If I’ve made it about them, made them feel special in an authentic way, if I have left a good enough impression so that they want to continue the conversation with me, we can talk more about my company at a later time. It’s earning that right, honor, and privilege to be able to get back together with them and network some more.

Hugh: We’re modeling what we’re talking about today with this partnership between SynerVision, a nonprofit, and a business, Kelli. We are doing the super collaboration. The SynerVision community is a place where like-minded people have comradery and can learn new systems and meet new people and figure out if other people have found solutions to the same problems. People network, learn systems, develop skills, and learn how to empower their boards, which makes them fundable. But the piece you’re talking about is how to have conversations with people.

Kelli: For us to be able to marry the opportunity to join a TEAM referral chapter that has an opening for a nonprofit, our chapters are virtually meeting mostly. Some are able to hold in-person meetings. But mostly they are done on Zoom very effectively. We started our first virtual chapter six years ago. As technology has advanced, and a small global pandemic has shown us, we can definitely develop great relationships virtually.

Hugh: Would you like to hear some questions from listeners?

Kelli: Sure.

Hugh: Bob, where are you today?

Bob Hopkins: I’m in Dallas, Texas.

Hugh: Weren’t you just in Mexico?

Bob: I got back from Mexico Sunday night. I was down there doing some networking. It’s nice to know you, Kelli. I met Hugh about four months ago, and my life changed. I’m sure that lots of people can say that about Hugh. I was always thinking, wouldn’t it be great to have some networking and a podcast? Then I met Hugh. All of my needs were satisfied.

We’re in a transformation. I saw a long article in the Dallas morning news recently that a thousand nonprofits will close because of this pandemic. They can’t keep them going because people aren’t thinking out of the box. They relied on special events. 2,000 special events were cancelled in Dallas over the last six months. That’s where a lot of them rely on fundraising. I’m wondering about TEAM networking for those nonprofits that couldn’t go alone. Couldn’t they team with other stronger nonprofits who might have the same idea and mission, or at least somewhat? Why can’t we reach out for those nonprofits and have them in programs with us? We can be in the same space with the same people working behind the desk and bringing in more volunteers and like-minded folks working.

Kelli: Wow. Bob, that’s amazing. We’ve long brought our nonprofits together from the members of TEAM. We’ve done fundraising events for them, golf tournaments and casino nights. We have come together from all over to contribute and share in the proceeds. We have done events where they have helped each other.

One of the challenges is nonprofits view other nonprofits as competition instead of collaboration. We had one nonprofit whose van had broken down, and we had another nonprofit who had extra vans sitting in a parking lot doing nothing. I said, “Hey, you need to get together. You need help, and you have this solution.” I’m sure they have things they can help you with.

To turn around and take a much more serious subject, which is nonprofits that may have to close their doors, if we can collaborate and partner with other nonprofits and help each other out, that would be amazing. I have one nonprofit within TEAM that comes to mind, Project Boon, out of the Inland Empire in Southern California. He puts on events, mostly in-person, where he feeds people every holiday. Then they bring in other organizations that provide services like dental and haircuts and medical examinations and job skill teaching. They will partner with other nonprofits for these events. They all have a greater impact on the community because they collaborated. Bob, you’re right on there, that we can be there and help each other. We would love to help coordinate that.

Hugh: Bob always has amazing things to share. Bob, I expressed that a nonprofit leader could bring in one of their business champions. In the case of one of those charities, maybe a business leader could adopt one of those and do a program together. What do you think of that?

Bob: As I am speaking, I am teaching myself and bringing myself new ideas.

Kelli: As we all are, Bob.

Bob: I belong to AFP, Association of Fundraising Professionals. I taught at the fundraising school at the University of Indiana for a while. Networking was never taught at either one of those kinds of groups. AFP, we did not collaborate together. We would sit next to each other, all having problems, not gathering ourselves together.

I’m teaching business communications right now, and I have a huge section on networking. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You have to develop this circle of influence, which starts at 25 and could end up at 250 people that you know and will have your back. If everyone in the nonprofit sector could start writing down the list of people they know and reach out to them and say, “Come join forces,” I have found people are hungry for a purpose and people want to get involved. But people are not reaching out to them. They don’t know how to reach out to them. They don’t know this experience you are trying to teach with networking.

I’d like to find out more about what you’re doing. That’s what Hugh does. That’s why I’m on here; he has introduced me to some great people who help me do what I do.

Kelli: We have some great people in the Dallas/Fort Worth market. TEAM is a franchisor, and we have franchisees and markets throughout the world now. We have some great people to connect you with, Bob, in your area.

Hugh: Bob, thank you. Kelli, Bob is a world traveler. Do you have chapters in Mexico or Bangladesh or India? Where do you have chapters?

Kelli: We have true virtual chapters (they only meet virtually) in many of those international markets. We can start in-person meetings as well. The world is a different place, so I am recommending people connect in the virtual world. I know we have chapters throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, Mexico. It’s finding what best suits a nonprofit. Many nonprofits want to be connected to a community group that has people based in and around their community. But others are wanting to network globally or without certain borders. We have great groups to refer people there to as well. All of our nonprofit memberships when plugged into the right chapter are donated to them.

Hugh: Let’s move to Bedford, Virginia. Mr. Rash?

J.E. Rash: You just answered my question. I was going to ask about your global influence. Our organization Legacy International works on five continents with young professionals, developing NGOs who are also entrepreneurs and social innovators developing their businesses. We have over a thousand alumni from our program just in the Middle East alone. They have been operating for 40 years on five continents. My question was around what you are doing globally. One thing I am always concerned about is large international organizations in Morocco, say, like Coca Cola using Moroccan water resources but not giving back to the community and not linking with local nonprofits.

Kelli: Missed opportunity.

J.E.: Yes, it’s a big one. The public health issues that so many of these corporations can interface with. That was one thing that came to mind. We are in a situation, where like you, we are doing everything virtually. We do a lot of work for the United States government, especially the State Department.

People in the areas that we work in have really no knowledge of volunteerism. Even their concepts of entrepreneurship and development are pretty basic. Their skills are extremely high. Their education is high. How to accelerate their work and projects in the community, I can see a great opportunity working with local businesses, but I can also see how the local businesses will benefit tremendously. You answered my question, so I will look into that. We also focus on angel investors and impact investors supporting these young entrepreneurs. Young Entrepreneurs goes from STEM work with young women from the ages of 14 and up to professional fellows programs in the 40s. It’s a lot of inter-generational work and work with well-trained people and people just being trained.

Hugh: Do you find there is a cultural difference in other countries with business leaders wanting to partner with charities?

J.E.: Absolutely.

Kelli: It’s been very fascinating for me to see the differences. It’s primarily tied to cultural differences. I love the emerging entrepreneurs. With our connections in India and Egypt and other parts of Southeast Asia that have come on board, for someone who is a micro-business to be able to connect to a TEAM chapter and get referrals from all over the world, seeing that impact is cool. It’s been a real education for me. I’m a Southern California born and bred girl; I live in that bubble. I’m not a world traveler, just a national traveler.

J.E.: I find the same thing. As you know, we have an Emerging Young Leaders program and a program called Living Side by Side that’s been around for 30 years. One of the definitions of culture is that you don’t define your own culture; you just assume everybody understands it. When you go into these areas, we’re especially sensitive to North Africa, Middle East, and that area for many years. I spent 14 years in and out of India. We have the language and cultural skills to deal with that. We find most people who come into those countries don’t have the slightest idea. They think to do it the American way, and it totally fails.

Hugh: Thank you. We have some professional fundraisers who say you’re spot on about not teaching this in fundraising school.

Let’s dig into this impact thing. In the world of fundraising, we have to be able to describe the impact of our work. That’s what money wants to hear. If I give you this money, this is what will happen. In a business or nonprofit, we provide people value, which is the beginning of the relationship. We have a relationship. We provide value. There is a monetary exchange for the value. That’s similar in both worlds. We have to be clear on the value proposition and what the results are. How do we get people to think out of the foxhole where we are just trying to keep the doors open, we’re working too much, and we’re not making progress and instead think differently with a different network? How do we encourage people to get out of the unproductive rut?

Kelli: Certainly, we have a lot of people in a place of fear right now. Some of it is self-imposed, and some of it is not. It’s been tragic on some businesses that have been lost. What I have found in my visits—and I am used to traveling all over by airplane, but I have been able to Zoom all over the world these past few months—the spirit of the entrepreneur, of the business owner has been amazing. The adaptability and flexibility have been truly inspirational.

The thing I have found over and over and over again is I see our members coming together on their weekly meeting on screen. They are so grateful to be connected still. That connection is universal for all of us. It doesn’t matter which country you’re in, which stage of business you’re in. That need to be connected is critically important. When you get connected, reconnect, or continue to build those connections is when you have the opportunity to have a much greater and bigger impact.

I have always told our nonprofit members when they join a chapter of TEAM that they are looking for referrals just like a business. Their referrals might be different. The referral for a nonprofit in a weekly meeting, they might say, “Hey, we have our golf tournament coming up.” Those tournaments can happen again. “We are looking for our $100,000 title sponsor.” Those are the things that a smaller business might turn around and think, “I will never be a $100,000 donor for a golf tournament. I can’t have an impact.” That’s simply not the case. I tell these nonprofits when they join, “Whether you’re looking for a $100,000 title sponsor or a local IT guy to repair all the office computers because they need an update and all the cords revamped,” that small IT service guy may turn up and go, “I can do some in-kind donations.” Another person will send a check for $50. Another person will be connected to an organization that does funding for nonprofits, capital campaigns.

McKinley Children’s Center, who I will connect with the local farmers recruiting guy, who then connects them to the main farmers insurance guy, who gets a $15,000 check sent to them because a guy in their networking group made that connection. Those things are all possibilities. I see it over and over again. We have to get out of a space in our head that is saying, “I am not going to be able to have an impact. I’m not big enough. I’m not successful enough. I’m too busy.” Those are all excuses as to why you’re not looking at what you can do to give back.

My personal philosophy is we all reap enough benefits to be able to give back in some way, shape, or form. We just have to pick out what form that is. The more opportunities that are shown and possibilities are floated out there, the better everyone will be for it.

Hugh: That is such a rich perspective. We are in possession of great wealth because we have sound mind, sound body, and we can drive our car. Most of us can eat. Why not give to somebody else? It really feels good to be able to support another organization. It’s part of our DNA. I’ve met some people in other countries through Bob. Part of their culture is tithing 10%. We talk about it. We don’t really do it. It’s not just writing a check and forgetting it. It’s writing a check and going with it.

Getting out of our mold. I went to one of your sessions, an international one. I got four leads the first time I showed up and introduced myself. There is an education for nonprofits to learn how to talk to groups that connect with them. We show up and go, “We feed people.” That’s it.

Kelli: My advice for them is the exact same advice I give to our business members as well. If you’re not getting the type of referrals you want from your group, after doing the due diligence that needs to be done to start building these relationships, you really need to look at what message you’re sending. What are you communicating? Being very clear about your needs, your wants, your desires is critical.

The only way this team of people are going to be out there in their lives with their important people—their contacts, business associates, clients—the only way they will be able to listen to what’s going on with the important people in their lives and who they meet and know to make some kind of match or referral opportunity for you is if you clearly and concisely convey what it is you’re looking for.

A great example. I was at a TEAM meeting speaking. A nonprofit stood up and said, “We just had 100 Christmas trees donated to our nonprofit for the holidays. That’s great, but two things. In order to give them to our foster families and our facilities, they have to be fire retardant treated. We also didn’t get any Christmas tree stands.” They had received this amazing gift, but they were without the opportunity to complete the type of cheer it could spread because of their requirements. I immediately walked out of the meeting, placed a phone call to my next-door neighbor who had a Christmas tree farm, and said to him, “Hey, I have this local nonprofit that needs 100 tree stands and 100 fire retardant treatments.” Later that day, 100 trees were picked up, treated with fire retardant, stands put on all of them, and delivered back to the nonprofit, all within the same day.

Did that cost any money? Of course, it cost the farm some money because of their donation. They were happy to give back. It took a phone call from me, and that was it. We took care of an immediate need. There are different needs. When I heard the YMCA was building a pool to do aquatic therapy for kids on the spectrum, the thing I did was they needed to be connected to an organization who does donations for children on the autism spectrum. It’s those kinds of matches that come from these kinds of relationships.

But if you think about any great relationship you have in your life—I don’t know how long you’ve been with your wife, but I’ve been with my husband for 37 years—they require work in order to be successful. They don’t just happen. The same thing is true with any meaningful business relationship. I’ll stress the meaningful part of that. They take work as well. You have to put in the work. You have to communicate effectively. You have to think in terms of reciprocity like we have discussed already and how you can give back to these networking partners of yours.

Hugh: But you don’t give with the intent of getting something back. You say very unselfishly, “I want to give back.” With that spirit, things do happen. You may not get the reciprocity from the person you gave to.

Kelli: Right. But it may be somebody else in the room who goes, “That’s a great guy. I want to help him. I have a great client to introduce him to.” It speaks volumes what we do and give and how we serve and more importantly how we show up. When we show up in a space that says, “I’m here to help you,” magical things happen. I am in a business where I see it every single day. Magic happens.

Hugh: That’s inspiring. Belonging to a chapter like that is a good example of how boards ought to work.

Kelli: Right.

Hugh: Lean in and we help each other. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share about TEAM, referrals, or networking in general?

Kelli: I do have a quick story I wanted to make sure I shared. This was a complete surprise to me when it happened.

I was on a radio show doing an interview with Terry Lee, TEAM’s person in Singapore. Terry was doing a radio show at that time with her Christian business partner. We were talking about the community outreach program and working with the nonprofits.

What came out of left field for me that I did not expect was the two of them sharing how much they got out of helping one of TEAM’s nonprofits. It just so happened that it was a local nonprofit that served at-risk youth and needy families in the area. Each of them, in this program collaboration with Target, the store, got to adopt a child. Target opened up their stores for four hours. Each volunteer got to take a child with them in the store and spend X amount of dollars. Marleah had a seven-year-old girl, and Terry Lee had a seven-year-old girl. They took these little girls around and helped them pick things out in their budget for their gifts.

Marleah and Terry Lee got tears in their eyes, you could hear their voices cracking, when they said they would never have had the opportunity to do that had they not been involved in that particular nonprofit through TEAM. It had such an impact seeing these families come together through this nonprofit that it made them feel so good and it made them want to do more.

I thought, Wow. I have been thinking about how it benefits the nonprofit. I hadn’t thought about the impact it would have on a private citizen, a business owner who is just out there trying to survive and grow their business. Having them be able to give back and have such an impact on their lives, it really brought about full circle the whole reason we started the community outreach program. I realized it really served more than just the nonprofit. It made people feel like they were having a meaningful impact.

Hugh: That’s moving. Thank you on the behalf of humankind. Bob has taught me a lot about philanthropy and how it’s more than money. You have just demonstrated that. Philanthropy is the love of humankind. It’s Greek. What you have demonstrated today is live and active philanthropy. What you talked about is someone stood up and said something in a meeting. We all impact everyone around us. We all influence each other. I encourage nonprofit leaders to think of everyone on their teams as leaders. When someone stands up, they influence everyone around them. You have demonstrated that philosophy in this conversation.

*Sponsored by SynerVision’s community and TEAM Referral Network*

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Kelli, what do you want to leave us with today?

Kelli: If you would like some more information about TEAM Referral Network, visit I invite you to find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. If you are interested in being connected to a great group, we have some wonderful people to introduce you to.

My final parting words. I am in a gratitude challenge right now. I had to do videos, which I don’t do a lot of, about gratitude. One thing we talked about is: What is one thing we can do every day to have an impact on this world? It’s something I have done for years that my kids and husband get embarrassed by. I say “Good morning” or “Hello” to everybody I meet, whether they answer me back or not. I’m going to wave to you no matter what. One of the greatest impacts we can have on the world today is to be kind. Spread a little cheer by saying “Hello” or “Good morning” and waving. It could be a wonderful opportunity to have a little impact in a lot of different places all over the world.

Hugh: Kelli Holmes, founder and owner of TEAM Referral Networks, you made my day today. Thank you for being on the show.

Kelli: Thank you. Great to be with you, Hugh.

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