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Archive for January, 2013

Customer Service for the Nonprofit in the Social Media Age

Nonprofit organizations need to practice great customer service for their primary customers (those who use their services) as well as their supporting customers (volunteers and donors). If the staff and volunteers working for your mission aren’t practicing quality Customer Service, it’s a turn-off. And with Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other social media platforms, it’s good communication practice to assure that all people understand that working as staff or volunteer assumes a good attitude when interacting with primary and supporting customers in these media, too.

How do we know when we’re providing “good” Customer Service? When we survey our customers and they respond that they are satisfied. Doing spot surveys of our customers to check in on customer satisfaction is a good idea for nonprofits, as it is for commercial companies.

Some companies use Feedback Loops to learn how they are doing. In the United Kingdon, National Express, a public transport company, invites commuters to text about their experience while they are commuting. This kind of check up tells the company how they are doing.

I suggest that you ask board members how their companies check on Customer Service. Take a few minutes at your next board meeting for a conversation on this topic. Discuss how you might apply the concept at your nonprofit. If you have a communication or public relations committee, and a staff person with responsibility in this area, ask them to do a bit of research on how to go about assessing and improving Customer Service in a 21st Century work environment. Come up with a plan and incorporate it in the performance review process at your workplace in the upcoming year. Assure that it becomes integrated and part of the job.

Taking steps to assure that your primary and supporting customers are satisfied with service at your nonprofit will deliver positive returns.

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Building a Fundraising Board

So. Here we are in early 2013 and we need members of the Board of Directors who are comfortable with raising money. Easier said than done. But it can be done.

We likely have a few members currently on the Board who are experienced 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 marketing or communications professional on your Board? Is there a 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!

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What Sets Us Apart?

Wherever you are in your fiscal year cycle, it’s good now after the New Year to stop and take stock. At staff meeting. At the next board meeting. Ask the question: What sets us apart? What’s our unique role in our community? In the world? What is it that we’re delivering that differentiates us from all the rest?

Keep track of the words. Some of these statements can become the basis for future communications. Headers for your newsletter. Leads for your next appeal to donors. Points to be made in testimony before a regulatory body or legislative committee.

Distinguish yourself. Make your nonprofit and its mission stand out.

When you’re recruiting volunteers for your special event or members for your board of directors, keep those points of differentiation in mind. Talk about them. Listen to what your primary customers….those who benefit from your mission…those who gain from the outcomes you deliver…have to say about you. Capture those words.

This is what sets you apart.

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