Blog Categories
Past Posts

Archive for September, 2011

Board Essentials: Part 5: Hearing Our Customers

Fall of 2010, I did a Board Essentials series on nonprofit governance.

Opening with “Parameters” that govern how nonprofits operate, I moved on the “Roles” of Board members, “Strategic Work” of Boards, and wrapped up with how Board members can “Engage Networks” to help advance the nonprofit they care most about.

This year, the series will focus on the nonprofit’s marketplace: where and how staff and volunteers find and work with its customers.

And let’s start this off in listening mode.  Of course, we’ll have messages we want to communicate. We’ll have a brand to uphold. Our nonprofit will articulate goals and strategies to move our mission forward and we’ll want to let our friends, supporters, stakeholders know what all this is.  But first and foremost, we must listen.

What floats the boat of our donors?  What has motivated them to give to our cause in the past?  What is the special value we’re bringing to our clients?  Or, as Peter Drucker would instruct us: our Primary Customers.  What are we delivering that keeps bringing them back to us for service? That makes them want to tell the story for us?  That earns the support of their families to our cause?  Let’s first and foremost hear what our customers have to say to us.   And let us reflect those messages they have for us back in our words to our target audiences about mission, values, goals, brand….clearly, succinctly.

The better we hear, the better response we’ll get back from our primary (client) customers and supporting (donors, volunteers) customers.


Post to Twitter


Finding Board Members Who Get Fundraising

So. Here we are in mid-September and we need members of the Board of Directors who are cool with raising money. Easier said than done. But of course, it can be done.

We likely have a few members currently on the Board who are comfortable giving and asking for gifts. There may be just a few. But this is the crew that can help you move the culture in the right direction:  Willing to give and willing to ask.  Getting the Governance Committee to work on the Board job description and to work on some in-service training that shows how successful Boards do this work can be very useful.

When it comes time for the Governance Committee to recruit a few new members, how can they (with executive director and development director pitching right in) identify best prospects to join the Board who will pitch in on this effort?

1.  Look for candidates with experience serving with other nonprofits. Particularly ones where there were expectations about giving and getting.

2.  Review list of best fundraisers who participate in your special events. Are there one, two or three names that pop out to you that are genial folks who seem very comfortable raising money through your events?

3.  Talk with staff at a nearby Chamber of Commerce. Are there business people in your community who seem civic-minded? Who have demonstrated generosity with time?  Interview them to see if there’s interest in your cause. If there is, you might start by inviting the individual to serve on a committee.  Let them work their way in.

4.  Do you have a Realtor on your Board?  Is there a strong, community-minded Realtor who has shown interest in your nonprofit?  Ask if they know of a newcomer to your community who seems like the kind of person who’d like to get involved through a nonprofit like yours.

So.  Use the resources you have close at hand and do some research.  Build a prospect list for Board membership. And let the candidates show their stuff and work their way onto your board.  It takes a bit of poking around, but with some work you can find good folks Who Get Fundraising!


Post to Twitter


We Know. But Does Our Target Audience Know?

Inside the public benefit (nonprofit) organization, staff and board and other volunteers know what our business is.  Whether we’re a day care center, a performing arts collaborative, a senior center….whatever we are, we know and our clients know what we’re delivering. What sets us apart from other public benefit organizations.  This is a crucial part of our brand identity.

Our donors, friends of our nonprofit, stakeholders in our mission…they all need to know about this, too.  But they don’t have the time to get the full experience of what we’re delivering like we do.  They only know us through our stories, through their contact with our clients, what they read about us in the newspaper or online. In our newsletter. In our appeal letter.

It’s our job, as nonprofit insiders, to make sure the outsiders….our target audiences who are out there interested in what we’re up to….to communicate our brand with clarity.  Succinctly.  Passionately.  Connecting us with the Hope we deliver to our clients. Or, our “primary customers.”  Let’s be sure our supporting customers (donors, volunteers, stakeholders of various stripe) hear this message. We don’t want to oversell it.  It doesn’t help our cause if we drive our supporters away through over-communication.

So we keep our messages short and sweet.  We host occasional events at our site to bring our supporters in to see what’s up, and get a taste of the mission.

And we’d like the memory of that taste to be sweet.  To linger. To generate a sense of fondness for our work in our supporting customers.

We know.  But does our Target Audience know?

Post to Twitter