Beyond Donor-Centered: Change Your Mission!
You know that mission statement that either is on your wall in your organization's office or in some dusty handbook on the bottom of your desk drawer? Yeah, that one.
Is there anything about your donors in that mission statement? Probably not. It's a pretty rare occurrence if there was.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but at Veritus Group we believe nonprofits need to change their mission statements to not just include donors but to make them half of the mission.
There, I said it. Now, let me have it. Come on; don't hold back ...
Tell me all the reasons why that is just a crazy idea. Now, for all the reasons you come up with I have two on why your nonprofit needs to change it's paradigm about how it views donors.
What I'm talking about goes way beyond being donor-centered. I'm talking about changing your organization's mind-set and culture. In short, the way it does business.
For too long we in the nonprofit world have looked at our donors as a means to and end. You need their money to get the real work done, right? But, what if your real work was not only what your current mission statement says, but also to care, challenge and change your donors, so they too can be transformed by their giving and involvement in your work?
That's pretty radical. But also I believe it will change lives and help your organization be successful.
So what does this new paradigm look like?
Well, what if your organization actually had folks whose job it is to evaluate the programs you have and report on the impact to your donors? I mean, that's it, that's all they did. Or, what if your program people took a day out of their week to call or visit with donors and update them on what is happening with the investment they made? What if you invited donors to sit with your executive team in your yearly planning meetings? Or you invited them to your annual retreat.
What if you doubled the size of your development department so you could reach the donors who want a deeper relationship with you? I know, crazy, right? No, it's not. How many of you are working 60 hours a week and wish you had two people doing what you do? Think how many more donors could be reached in a more meaningful way. What if you actually had time to think, plan and communicate with donors?
What a concept, huh?
I know what I'm saying is counter to how almost all nonprofits work, but I don't care. It's time to change. It's time for a new paradigm where the needs of your donors and the needs of your current mission are viewed equally.
This doesn't negate the work your organization is doing. You need to keep doing it, better than ever. We need to move beyond viewing our donors as a means to an end, but as a vital part of your overall mission.
The for-profit world has gotten this. The extraordinary companies are the ones that spend more money on their employees; they provide incredible customer service and don't skimp on their products. Those extraordinary companies defy conventional wisdom and yet are wildly successful.
We can learn from this. Yes, it's a risk. Yes, it defies the current nonprofit paradigm, but folks, as Bob Dylan sang, "The Times They Are A Changin'." Are you willing to change with them?
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.