A Cost-Effective Way to Improve Donor Experiences
A few years ago, the art museum in the city where I live hired a new executive director. On his first day of work, he had trouble entering the museum. It surprised him to learn the facility’s big, beautiful, ornate bronze doors were actually locked to save budget. His goal was to get those doors unlocked within his first 90 days at the museum, and he succeeded. In addition to more funds being raised, the community became more engaged and invested in the success of the museum too.
This begs the question: what opportunities are you walking by every day and what are you accepting as "normal" just because it's been done that way for as long as you can remember?
Often, I catch myself wondering what my organization's donors or volunteers might be confused by and what ideas they would bring to the table if they were the executive director for the day. This is part of why we run a monthly insight panel with our supporters, to learn more and help bridge that gap.
When traveling or visiting somewhere new, it's always so easy to see opportunities. Sometimes I see the perfect spot one could hang a poster and mention membership information. Other times I see an outdated or off-brand sign still hanging past its expiration date. Usually, I wonder why no one sees the acquisition or conversion opportunity before them and simply put, it's because of what we've gotten accustomed to seeing each day as we enter the same space again.
There are many books written on the subject and it reminds me of when an elementary school teacher asked my class to draw every house and building that we passed each morning on our way to school. I remember so clearly what I thought was an easy art project turning into an agonizing assignment trying to correctly remember the color of every neighbor's home. No one got an A on the assignment. We did however, all get a lesson on how easy it is to not be present or fully aware of your surroundings.
So how do we harness the perspectives of those entering our organization's spaces for the first time and how do we capture those observations? Sure, we can do surveys and I think most nonprofits do. While it’s helpful to capture this data, it still isn’t the same as experiencing it first-hand. If only we could go back and remember all we noticed during the first month of employment when we joined our current organizations.
Which brings me to my first point – when you hire new staff, ask them to keep a list of what they noticed during the first few months of joining the organization. What did they see as cool, as weird, as confusing? What just flat out doesn’t make sense? What efficient processes are they familiar with from their past organization that your organization doesn’t do? Having new hires keep a list is an incredibly cost-effective way to gain actionable insights.
Likewise, you too can do this exercise. Even if you joined your organization years ago, there are several ways you can experience it with fresh eyes. Each year, companies like UPS and DoorDash require all employees to make a set number of deliveries. From this, it reminds staff setting policy what it’s like on the front lines and keeps everyone close to the value proposition their customers expect.
Think about how you can do the same at your organization and for your work. It can be as easy as raising your hand to help another team out. You can also go and volunteer at your organization. Or better yet, go and volunteer at another organization working in the same field as yours. I guarantee you’ll walk away with helpful ideas you are eager to implement.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Sue Citro is the chief experience officer at Best Friends Animal Society and is responsible for how the development, digital, marketing communications and brand experience teams collaborate and work in new ways to bring more people into Best Friends’ lifesaving work. Before joining Best Friends, Sue led new digital expansions for The Nature Conservancy in Asia and Latin America. She started her career working at Peace Corps headquarters, followed by time at a direct mail agency and then consulting in the digital fundraising space with nonprofits large and small.
Sue holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Jeremy, and 103 lb. rescued dog, "Little" Luca.