Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

The Line Between Service Provider and Consultant

Kari Chisholm blogs about the current debate over whether Convio, a company that provides online advocacy tools, should be able to serve all non-profits, or just those with a certain agenda:

Most of Convio’s current and past clients are lefty organizations – including the ACLU, Dean for America, Planned Parenthood, etc. Recently, however, they added the Alliance for Marriage; an anti- gay-marriage organization. Some leading blogs, including AmericaBlog and DailyKos, have called for a boycott – suggesting that Convio is violating its own prohibition against serving hate groups.

I agree with Kari’s conclusion that since Convio provides a toolset and not overall strategic guidance, they should feel no obligation to limit their potential client base.  Each service provider must decide whether it makes for better business to serve only one portion of the marketplace or take all comers.  To be sure, there are times where focusing on one party only may be more profitable … and Convio may be about to find out if spreading out is worth the risk.

Likely Convio would have been better off to diversify early on.  Then everyone would know they were a service provider.  Winding up with ideologically similar clients and then trying to diversify later always looks bad.

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