Are You a Relationship Wrecker?
There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of relationship building for successful fundraising, marketing and communications — especially in the online world.
But what if you're a terrible relationship builder? What if you're actually better at alienating prospects and supporters than you are at drawing them into your orbit? Here are seven signs that you're a relationship wrecker.
1. You're slow to respond online
We're all overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages in our Twitter streams, fan pages and inboxes. But that doesn't mean we should ignore online correspondence. Like it or not, responding quickly is part of the culture of online media and ultimately helps build trust. Completely overwhelmed by online messaging? Create an auto-responder to let folks know that you'll e-mail them within 24 hours. Create an editorial calendar to get your content publishing schedule under control. Get more people in your organization blogging, tweeting and updating your Facebook page to share the workload.
2. You take more than you give
Relationships are a quid pro quo. While I'm not suggesting that you keep a scorecard after each event, meeting or phone call with a new partner, be sure to give at least as much as you take. For example, if a colleague offers to retweet an article on your behalf, be sure to reciprocate with a link or comment on her blog next week.
3. You're a 'nonprofit narcissist'
You remember Narcissus from Greek mythology. He fell in love with his own reflection in the water of a spring and wasted away. Far too many nonprofits still communicate as if they are the center of the universe. BORING! I really don't care about your new hire, the fact that you just moved offices and now have a state-of-the-art website. Is this really what you want to highlight on your homepage? I want to know how I can help and why I should.
4. You're out of touch
In her new book, "The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause," Kivi Leroux Miller describes how many nonprofits take a Grandma-Knows-Best approach. "Grandma-Knows-Best nonprofits write newsletters full of articles about the organization, its activities, and its issues, with little regard for who actually reads the newsletter. In fact, they aren't even sure who's on the news letter list, and it really doesn't matter. Knowing wouldn't change the content."
We all love Grandma, but she's a little out of touch. Instead, Leroux Miller advises us to channel the "Cool Aunt" when communicating. "Cool Aunt nonprofits know who they are communicating with and are constantly checking in with their audience … They regularly adjust the content of their communications, and even their publishing schedule, to be relevant to their audience right now … As much as possible, their newsletters are tools for not only delivering content but also sparking conversation and interaction."
5. You're boring
Fundraising and communications are as much art as they are science. This means you have to find ways to keep your content fresh. Take a step away from your desk. Go for a walk. Volunteer. Take in a play. Read the comics. Better yet, talk to some of the people who are recipients of your services. Still not inspired? You may be in the wrong line of business.
6. You're channeling Chicken Little
The news is filled with tragedy. From the oil spill in the Gulf, to the suffering in Gaza, to the flash flood in Arkansas, there is more than enough grief to go around. It's hard not to be seduced by all this distress, but you must try to stay positive. Your supporters don't want to feel powerless and hopeless. Instead of waxing on and on about the perils of the world, remember to talk about your successes. Tell a story about that one starfish you saved and how your donors made it possible.
7. You never call
We've all gotten so used to electronic communications that sometimes we forget the power of picking up the phone and/or meeting face to face. Reaching out in personal ways is ever more important in an impersonal world. No time for lunch with a key donor or member? Schedule coffee or a quick chat. FS