ProSpeak: Adjusting to the New Face of Need
Change your messaging
If your mission statement and external messaging focus exclusively on serving low- and moderate-income people, you may want to consider revisiting both. If you decide to expand your mission to include the new demographic of people in need, your messaging needs to reflect this shift.
Aggressively promote your expanded mission
Reach into your community — including your civic organizations, PTAs, churches and local media — and aggressively promote the fact that your organization understands and is ready to help anyone in the community in need of its services.
Sensitize your staff
People who have never had to ask for help before are often embarrassed or inhibited to do so. Reinforce with your staff the need to make everyone they serve feel welcome and deserving of help. When parents are embarrassed to ask for assistance, it's usually their children who suffer the most.
Don't abandon your original mission
Low- and moderate-income families need your support more than ever. Don't abandon them in their greatest time of need.
Expand your referral list
The human-service needs in many communities are currently overwhelming. All the more reason to collaborate, cooperate and partner with other organizations and extend your referral list of service organizations.
Clearly understand what each of these organizations is capable of delivering in the way of services. At the same time, they should clearly understand your service capabilities and limitations.
If you can't help someone, do your best to refer them to an organization that might be able to meet their needs. But avoid sending them on a wild goose chase. These folks already are under enough stress.
Bend but don't break
Many nonprofits are already stretched thin. Despite the need to help more people, your primary goal is to remain solvent so you can continue to keep your doors open and your mission alive.