10 Ways to Manage Your Nonprofit's Perception vs. Reality
I watched the Grammy's on television recently. I was told that 28.5 million people watch this celebration of music, and there are 15 million tweets associated with the show.
To my amazement, while watching the Grammy's, I saw a person who reports to me at work standing in her beautiful gown and clapping from her third-row seat. I had no clue she was in Los Angeles attending this amazing event. I kept thinking I was seeing things. How did she get third-row seats in a facility that seats more than 30,000? When this individual arrived back in the Indianapolis office, she gave me the details.
She was one of 300 people who won a lottery to attend the Grammy's through Seatfillers and More on Facebook. If you win this lottery, you must travel to the venue at your expense but attend the event free. This concept is used for major television events. The premise is when the cameras focus on the audience at a major televised event, there are no empty seats. I was informed that for the Grammy's, 300 people served as seat fillers while 10 supervisors directed the movements of these individuals during the show.
At each commercial during the three-hour production, orchestrated chaos ensued as my employee and others changed seat locations at least 10 times. The good news is my employee changed seats near the stage. Can you imagine shooting the breeze sitting next to Beyonce, Paul McCartney and others? I have never heard of this concept before, but it certainly covers the perception of having a full house and no empty seats for major televised events!
When relating this idea to philanthropy, think about perception versus reality. I have some questions for you:
- What does your board think of your organization?
- What do your volunteers think of your organization?
- What do your donors think of your organization?
- What does your administration and staff think of your organization?
- What would a random member of the community say about your organization?
What do you do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis to reinforce your mission, vision, goals and direction of the organization? Do you have a marketing and communications plan? What would you like various publics to say about your organization if asked? Do you even think about this issue? These questions need answers on an ongoing basis.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.