Nonprofit coach receives philanthropy award

Bob Cryer is the owner of the non-profit Executive Coaches of Orange County (EC of OC). EC of OC coaches managers and employees of other non-profits on how to become more efficient at helping those they are trying to help.
(KENT TREPTOW, Daily Pilot)

Newport Beach resident Bob Cryer, the founder of Executive Coaches of Orange County, will be honored Wednesday with the 2010 Excellence in Philanthropy Award by the Orange County Community Foundation.

“It’s a big deal,” Cryer said. “I’m flabbergasted as to why would they pick this little operation when they have so many big hitters over at the foundation.”

The former analytic consultant and investment advisor for Procter & Gamble left the company in 1994 at the age of 55. No stranger to the nonprofit community, while at P&G, he raised funds, served on boards and helped with special projects.

However, it wasn’t until 1998 that he combined his business expertise with philanthropy.

Twelve years ago Cryer moved back to Newport Beach and started working with SCORE, a company that provides mentors for small-business owners.

At the time, SCORE wasn’t working with nonprofits and didn’t have any interest. Cryer and his colleague John Benner saw the lack of services available to nonprofits and decided to fill the gap.

In 2002, Executive Coaches of Orange County was born.

“I started to train them in the ways of nonprofits and developed a business model patterned after SCORE, but delivering a little bit different kind of service,” Cryer said.

He also patterned some of the company after P&G’s executive coaching and mentoring program, which he participated in as a mentee and later as a coach himself.

Unlike private sector businesses, nonprofits lack the funds to hire consultants when they might need them the most.

“The smaller ones cannot afford to hire a consultant at a $100 an hour or whatever the going rate is,” he said. “They’re sort of in a bind and have to do the best with what they can. Sometimes the best they can is not a good business practice.”

Executive Coaches of Orange County is a nonprofit that provides free services. Its 25 executive volunteers cover their own expenses.

“Most of the people in these small nonprofits came into the nonprofit because they were trained in social services work, educational work or nursing work,” he said. “They didn’t want to work in business, so why would they get a business degree?”

Executive Coaches focuses on small nonprofits and links individual managers with coaches who can address their issue, be it fundraising, money management or public relations.

“All the processes that nonprofits use to run their business exist in the for-profit world,” Cryer said. “As long as you learn how to translate and that the values are a little bit different, it all works.”

At Tuesday’s award ceremony, Executive Coaches will receive a $5,000 grant. Cryer plans to use the award to start two grants for nonprofit executives.

“The current thinking is since we’re in the management education business, we will give grants to nonprofit mangers to further their education in management in wherever they want to do it,” he said.

For more information about the Executive Coaches of Orange County, visit