Why You Should Treat Your Nonprofit Team Like Donors
If you want to increase your bottom line, you should treat your nonprofit team like donors. Here's why.
Not too long ago, one of my managers came into the office to speak to me about a team member. The team member was a valued employee and wanted to discuss opportunities for advancement. My manager wanted to retain this person, and candidly, so did I. The employee was a great member of a particular department, but there was no available path of advancement the way we were currently structured.
I listened to the words of my manager and the concerns that the team member might begin to consider opportunities outside of our social enterprise. Of course, everyone has a right to advance in their careers, and they'll do it within your nonprofit or somewhere else.
Want to Know My Piece of Advice to the Manager?
I told the manager to take this person out to lunch and get a real understanding of where they wanted to be concerning their career. The reality is that peoples' jobs are a significant aspect of their lives, and I thought it essential to have the manager understand the personal and career goals of the individual. Getting some space and separation was necessary to have that substantive meeting.
Why Do I Share This Story With You?
Because often, nonprofit managers forget that their team members are––in fact––also akin to being their "supporters.” They deserve and require the same level of attention that you would give to your donors.
Donor Service Extends to Your Team
As we all know, nonprofits are in the business of making a social impact, and they do this by getting the necessary resources to accomplish their mission. Having been a manager for decades, the best way to model exceptional "donor service" is to treat your team as if they were your supporters. When the team feels that they are valued and have all the resources they need for success, the environment in your offices is one of shared excellence.
Providing Supporter and Donor Service Support to The Team
A couple of years ago, we moved offices to a new suite, and our vice president of operations and I took the time to talk to our entire team about what they wanted. No one was excluded. Some of the surveying we did help us understand that people wanted to walk into a vibrant and fun office. Since they spent a great deal of time in the office, they wanted their environment to be one that was conducive to work, but also with a little whimsy and fun. That meant everything from the color of the office to the design, even our defunct "shoe museum" and corn-hole game were taken into account.
A Satisfied Team Means Money a Better Profit Margin
Supporters and donors expect a lot from nonprofits these days, and the reality is that in the coming years, their experience will be vastly more important. If you haven't noticed, everything in society is becoming about "experience." Supporters and donors of your organization are looking for speed, immediacy and personalization. That means your organization, and everyone who works in it has to be donor-centric and focused. As a nonprofit leader, there is an added element that you have a responsibility to ensure, which is to make sure everyone on your team knows what it means to be of service to the donor, even if they are not on the fundraising team. This is accomplished by modeling service behavior.
Creating a Culture of Donor Service
Creating a culture of donor service, beginning with how you treat your team, is essential to ensuring that your champions are satisfied with your business. By treating everyone like a supporter––from the fundraising team, marketing, program officers to the operations team––you will create a culture of service, which is essential for a thriving nonprofit. Every day, you want to demonstrate to your team, and then expect them to show it outwardly to your supporters, that your charity is one dedicated not only to your mission but excellence in donor satisfaction.
Everyone on my team knows that if they need one of the managers or me to be available to assist on a call or with a service issue, we're there at the moment and on the spot. When a junior person calls your office or one of your managers, answer the phone and help them provide exceptional donor support services. By doing so, demonstrating that you're there to support them as a team member, you're showing them that anyone and everyone can be available to deal with any issue, thus, increasing team spirit and morale.
Seek not only to have excellent donor service with your brand but also aim to have exceptional team member service. It's the first place to start with having outstanding donor support.
Show your team every day what it means to go above and beyond. If you create an environment that's always looking to meet their needs, in turn, your team will turn around and seek to ensure that your donor’s needs are met as well.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.