Every Nonprofit Needs Internal and External Ambassadors
An ambassador is a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity, according to Google's English dictionary. An example of the term used in a sentence is “He is a good ambassador for the industry.”
Every person who works for a nonprofit or is associated with an organization internally is an ambassador of that organization by virtue of association. As an employee of The Salvation Army, I wear, with pride, a shirt with the logo of The Salvation Army. Volunteers also wear clothing that signifies an association with the organization.
People who see that clothing assume an ambassador relationship exists. Nonprofits should continually train and provide orientation to employees that states how they should act as ambassadors to the various publics they serve. Internal representatives should constantly and profoundly provide positive reinforcement. In addition to the internal ambassador notation, every nonprofit needs to continually recruit external ambassadors.
The mission ambassadors are changing the way nonprofits tell their stories, according to Fluxx. These brand ambassadors believe in the mission, goals and values of the organizations they represent. These people are the employees, volunteers, board members and community advocates that support your mission. These ambassadors volunteer their time, sit on boards, donate money, attend events and do what is necessary to propel the institution forward.
Mission ambassadors personalize your nonprofit. They help emotionally connect with your donors and supporters, but can assist your nonprofit in other ways, such as posting on social media, networking or speaking in public and writing blog posts. Your mission ambassadors fight for the organizational mission to be heard universally.
An Arizona State University publication provided research that noted board members and volunteers are not effective as community ambassadors for organizations because they do not know what the concept means. In addition, they do not have what is needed to start and do not understand why they need to do what you are asking them to do.
To transform volunteers into true ambassadors for your organization, you need to ask them to consider doing several of the following activities on your nonprofit’s behalf.
These activities are as follows:
- Speak publicly to groups.
- Serve as social media ambassadors and post messages at least twice a month.
- Volunteer and represent your organization at an event.
- Invite guests to your next event.
- Host a reception as an opportunity to tell your nonprofit’s story.
- Join the executive director at events with elected officials.
- Make thank-you calls to donors.
- Invite friends and colleagues for a tour.
- Forward an organizational newsletter to others in your network.
- Invite staff to present at a brown bag lunch at their office.
Provide ambassadors with what they need to succeed. According to a FindLaw Team article, the top five tips to keep nonprofit volunteer ambassadors coming back to your organization over time include figuring out what is the volunteer’s reason for service. Explain your expectations at the outset and make sure volunteerism is not burdensome. Ensure volunteers find their experience fun and thank them for doing a good job. Hold appreciation events and give out awards when feasible. Seek constant feedback on ways to make the volunteer experience one they relish so they stay engaged and ask others to join them.
Since you continually need quality ambassadors, you should strive for quality recruiting practices. A Galaxy Digital blog recommends conducting an ambassador recruiting campaign. As you recruit your ambassadors, explain ambassador campaigns and goals. Empower them with support and resources. Continually review your donor data to find the best ambassadors.
These are individuals with a history of engagement and events, commitment through continuous donations, active networks and community ties, plus free time to promote your organization. Seek to actively motivate your volunteers over time. Learn how to best recruit, train, orient and maintain quality relationships with your ambassadors. Listen to their needs and wants and meet their requests.
As a staff member, to secure the best ambassadors for your organization, think like a prospective ambassador. You need to have an engaging and passionate personality. Each ambassador must have the right message and information to share with the variety of publics for engagement. Sumac recommends providing a toolkit for the ambassador with the correct communication tools, such as news outlets, portfolio, elevator speech, plus organizational bulleting points. Consider taking personal notes on what to say to various outside constituencies. What you say and how you reflect the organization is critical for the right positive perceptions to develop.
Boardable states that the success of a nonprofit depends largely on how many outside people are receiving and responding to its message. Ambassadors for a nonprofit can improve their performance over a period of time if they use the following techniques.
- Practice your elevator speech about your organization.
- Bring organizational information with you and make some contacts with news media.
- Promote your nonprofit with swag and start an organizational blog.
- Set up tables at local events, create a new event for visibility and use your own network to promote nonprofit.
- Continually strive to be a better ambassador for your organization.
If you are interested in either becoming an ambassador for an organization or recruiting an ambassador your organization, create a concise job description for this role. The job description must describe the organization as it seeks to advance its mission in a successful way through ambassador support. The description needs to outline the specific requirements for an ambassador. Examples of roles to play include lending their name, act as a spokesperson, open doors and make a personal gift. Ambassador activities need to include wearing the brand, tweet and share engagement, raise money, advocate, and constantly inform and engage.
Every nonprofit needs internal and external ambassadors to spread the good word about your nonprofit to the world in which the nonprofit operates. Positive information sharing will enhance the likelihood of overall success. Ambassadors can provide and gather information to others. Greater attention needs to be given to the ambassador concept. If individuals know exactly what is expected of them, greater long- term results will be made. Anyone can be a volunteer, but it takes a special breed to be an outstanding ambassador for an organization. Do you have an ambassador program in place?
If not, what are you waiting for? Start with your internal population and work externally, beginning today.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.