Blog Categories
Past Posts

Archive for June, 2010

Good Marketing > Good Governance

One measure of an effective nonprofit board of directors is the level of comprehension and commitment to strong marketing practice. I know that some members of nonprofit boards scoff at marketing as alchemy and opt for the purity of the program they deliver to their clients. Well, I tell ya. If you don’t understand what makes your client tick, your program may not be worth a bucket of spit. Good marketing, as Peter F Drucker taught and as the Leader to Leader Institute persists in telling us, starts with the customer. And the primary customer is the person who benefits from the service your nonprofit provides. And if we’re not taking the time to check in with our customer/client and gauging the effectiveness of the program we’re providing we’re missing the boat.
Our work, designed to accomplish our mission, has to be based on the market it’s targeting. And the work should represent our brand in the most excellent way possible to shore up our creditibility with our supporting customers: our volunteers, our donors, our stakeholders.
Commitment to that level of quality, based on a clear understanding of what serves our customer best, will provide us with the data that will help make donors take us seriously.
Yes, your nonprofit organization should be mission-driven.
But your nonprofit must be market-sensitive.
One reason why the Harlem Children’s Zone is so effective is because everyone in that organization gets the fundamentals of their market. They built their effective program block-by-block. Harlem Children’s Zone makes it easy for children receiving service to concentrate on the important stuff, because they figured out how to coordinate the array of services needed in a way that receiving service doesn’t get in the way of the focus on education.
Every member of every board of directors needs to be oriented to this kind of thinking. It’s The Results. Know your market, design appropriate response to the needs of your primary customers, and keep refining and improving on that response and the donating public will open your website, see the value, and vote to be a part of it.
And that, my friend, is what separates the effective nonprofit from the run-of-the-mill.

Post to Twitter

Share

Board Building a la Kay Sprinkel Grace

There are a couple of “go to” authorities in nonprofit leadership: One is Peter F Drucker, the legend who lived and worked well into his nineties, and whose Drucker Foundation morphed into Leader-to-Leader, a great source in developing sustainable nonprofit organizations. In a future blog post, I’ll talk about the strategic approach Leader-to-Leader recommends nonprofits take: very market and customer focused.
Today I want to share some wisdom of another thought leader in nonprofit leadership, board work, and particularly fund development: Kay Sprinkel Grace.
Ms. Grace has helped raise millions for Stanford University making practical application of her principles in building effective nonprofit organizations.
I highly recommend her The Ultimate Board Members Book (January, 2009, Emerson & Church). Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/bSmhMU. It’s a quick read (she claims 60 minutes) and provides soup-to-nuts on how boards can orient themselves to advance the mission of their nonprofit.
In my work with nonprofit boards, I always trot out her presentation on AAA Boards which she presented to the Association of Nonprofit Professionals in Toronto in 2004. Here’s a link to that PDF: http://bit.ly/a7qJAO. Boards achieve their highest level of performance when it’s clear who are the best Ambassadors, who are the best Advocates, and who are the Askers. Board members need to be clear on what their role is: their group responsibilities (fiduciary, legal, loyalty) as well as individual roles to fill. Achieving clarity of purpose and mission focus helps get the noprofit moving in the right direction. Consultants in board development to nonprofit organizations should always circle back to these fundamentals. And there is no better well to drink from than that of Kay Sprinkel Grace who helps us align our action with our mission.

Post to Twitter

Share