Dec 7, 2021 - Business

Making the Deal with Michelle Yepez

Photo illustration of a briefcase with a photo of Michelle Yepez inside.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Paradise Advertising and Marketing

Michelle Yepez is all about putting people before dollar signs.

State of play: Yepez was named director of development last month for Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit focused on fostering a healthy Tampa Bay watershed.

  • She oversees the organization's corporate and community philanthropy initiatives through growth in fundraising, donor relations and collaborations.

We asked for her best advice on finessing a major deal. When the stakes are high, how do you bring two sides together?

  • 💼 "Preparation is key. Neither side likes a deal shrouded in mystery. By doing homework about the potential partner and conducting research in advance to understand the factors impacting the negotiation, you'll save yourself from unnecessary embarrassment."
  • 🗣 "Speak your truth, but be gentle and kind. Generally a supporter already knows the broad mission of an organization before they agree to sit at the table. Don’t assume what their position might be on a topic, ask instead. Funders and partners are hungry for facts and want to know their company or personal values are being recognized."
  • 🤝 "Say thank you. And mean it. Soft skills coupled with a genuine spirit of gratitude go a very long way. Fruitful partnerships are built on strong relationships and successful negotiation harbors trust — these in turn can open the door for continued partnerships and bigger deals down the line."

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