Grappling With Growth
“What you say in 20 seconds can impact the whole public perception of the national organization,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot of time hitting home to our clubs the elements of BGCA’s elevator speech: This is a building-centered program where paid, professional staff serve kids through affordable and available programs that work.”
The elevator-speech push ensures that someone walking into a BGCA club in Duluth, Minn., would receive the same message as someone walking into a Jacksonville, Fla., club. And, Aschermann says, it’s working. In 2003, a new public-awareness survey showed about 80 percent of the U.S. public was familiar with BGCA — up more than 65 percent from 1993.
When Aschermann joined BGCA nearly 17 years ago, the development and marketing staff numbered around 20. Now, his staff is at 106, with around 60 in development and 40 in marketing.
“We’ve succeeded in getting our clubs to sound alike, smell alike, taste alike and to carry the message crafted by the national organization, so we’re all saying the same thing,” he says. “What’s also key for BGCA is that we’re very clear about how we allocate donation dollars. We let the donor know what we’re doing with her money.”
But who owns the donor?
In the mid 1990s, BGCA commissioned a series of customer-satisfaction studies.
“The result was that 92 percent of our local clubs rated the national office as good or great,” Aschermann says. “It was so high we did the survey again. But, the numbers were right.”
However, he admits, it wasn’t always that way.
“I would say one of the most important things we’ve done is fix the relationship between the national office and local clubs,” Aschermann says. “Often franchise systems for nonprofits don’t work. But we’ve tried to figure out some things to make it work for us.”