Wisdom Wednesdays: YOU ARE Your Organization … So is Everyone Else … So be AWESOME

by Jon Nelson

No matter their role — President, Development Assistant, Copy Room Manager — everyone at your organization represents your organization.

Scott Stratten emphasizes this truth in The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business Unawesome: How Engaging Your Customers and Employees Can Make Your Business Thrive.  In it, he discusses an encounter he had at a Hilton Garden Inn.  He had a breakfast that was really bad, and says he wasn’t trying to make a big deal but, “If I owned this business, I would want someone to know” (p. 2).  So he told the waitress, who nelson-jon-2013-webtold a manager who came out and apologized and took care of the check.  But then, as he was leaving, out ran a sous-chef named Forbes who, with a look of great concern showed that he cared, and that he really wanted to make sure all who were impacted by his work were happy with it.

Stratten writes about being “awesome,” hence the book title.  He states that everyone in every role can be awesome where they are every day, and that in turn can transform departments and entire organizations (pp. 7-10).

Being awesome is not about trying to avoid all mistakes, because no matter what you do they will happen.  As Stratten says about Forbes, what’s important is showing how great you and your organization are when you get the opportunity (and it really is and opportunity) to make it better:

He truly cared that they screwed up.  He owned it.  He changed my view of the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hilton Overall.  And he didn’t have to.
To me, Forbes is the Hilton.  Not their mission statement or logo.  Every employee is your brand ambassador, your marketer, and the face of your company.  Employees make a difference.  Forbes made a difference for a billion-dollar hotel brand to me.  (p. 3, emphases added)

Everyone at an organization affects how the organization is viewed by those it serves.  Think about Forbes.  He wasn’t seen, he was back in the kitchen, but still he had an impact on a guest, and then when he got the chance he had a much more powerful, lasting impact by showing that he cared.  Now, Stratten is a fan and he’s telling all the people who read his book, too.

What does this mean?  It means that you, no matter your job title, impact how donors, campers, potential donors, people struggling with dependence, students, the homeless or victims of abuse are served.  Even if you haven’t made a mistake, by going above and beyond, or simply showing you care, you can completely change how someone views you and views your organization.  You might get that big gift, or you could radically change a life.

Being awesome doesn’t even have to be a huge deal, at least not at first.

Be nice to the UPS driver — who knows if she has money and just delivers packages because she likes interacting with people?  She would be able to make a nice gift, but just needs someone to motivate her by showing her that your cause is awesome.  Be kind to the person on the phone who reached your desk by mistake and has a problem.  How you respond could completely change how he views your agency, and he’ll likely tell his friends about it.  Word of mouth is gold, and good experiences are a great motivator for it.  Heck, just smile!

So, “How are you going to be awesome today” (p. 10.)?  How can you make a huge difference for your organization, and for your career, by simply showing you care?  How can you help the rest of your team to be awesome, too?  It can start by simply being awesome where you are, and modeling that for others.

Jon Nelson, of Beloit, Wis., is Associate Director for Communications with ALDE.  He is also Principal of Nelson Business Communications, LLC.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Establishing Reliability From the Inside Out – Choosing Fundraising Software Part 3

by Mark Gerber

You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?”  The same philosophy applies to your nonprofit organization.  As discussed in two of our recent blog posts, it takes more than a day to lay the proper foundation for your nonprofit organization to succeed.

So far we’ve reviewed the importance of selecting the correct fundraising tools and analyzing their impact on your business goals.  In order to continue the momentum of building a successful fundraising program you must also establish a reliable reputation from the inside out.  With the proper internal structure and resources, your organization will be steadfast in raising funds, while maintaining excellent service.

Gerber-MarkA critical component in successfully managing your organization depends on the ability to utilize your asset, which is your staff.  Take the time to transfer knowledge about your tools and train them.  Empower your staff to be software advocates by providing the necessary training and resources so they can operate fundraising efforts effectively.  This can be achieved by identifying roles and responsibilities, so you can easily recognize what amenities are vital for each employee’s job.

Understanding that training is vital to your organization’s success.  Be sure to allow time for training.  This is perhaps the most obvious strategy, but it is easily ignored as deadlines and other priorities loom.  Not providing time and a well-defined plan for training can result in increased costs in retraining, as well as time and resources to correct errors in data that may not have otherwise occurred.

Another simple way to prime your staff is to circulate job aides, or “cheat sheets,” so at any given time an employee can reference steps to performing a task.  Some examples of these instruction documents can include:

  • Step by step instructions for entering a donation
  • Steps to add a new constituent record
  • How to check each record’s prior existence and contributions
  • The process involved for running reports/reconciling with accounting

Not only should your staff generate and share this content with one another, but you should also encourage them to actively talk and share best practices, tips and insights.  An open, transparent conversation among staff can assist in better serving your donor base.  Do this by setting up recurring meetings or email updates and offer incentives for your staff to contribute to discussion.

Start viewing your best asset as your staff and begin to utilize them as such.  By clearly defining roles and offering proper education, you’ll be setting up your organization to quickly progress and deliver excellent service.  By taking the time to address the considerations above, you will surely be setting yourself and your organization up for success.

Go back to Part 2

Mark Gerber is the regional sales manager at ResultsPlus (RP) nonprofit CRM (Constituent Relationship Management).  ResultsPlus software has been helping more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations and professionals reach their fundraising goals since 1985.  Based in Rochester, Minn., ResultsPlus prides itself on the difference it makes allowing its users to grow alongside their fundraising success by implementing inclusive, functional software.  For more information, visit www.resultsplussoftware.com.

Wisdom Wednesdays: Building Fundraising Success From the Ground Up – Choosing Fundraising Software Part 2

by Mark Gerber

Functionality is one of the critical building blocks of a nonprofit’s Hands Connectingsuccessful fundraising program.  Your fundraising software should fit the way you work — from planning your day to communicating with constituents and processing pledges.

Here’s a valuable list of things to consider when evaluating whether or not your nonprofit software is the right tool to keep your organization headed toward success.  Does the software:

  • Facilitate managing and using volunteer availability, skills and preferences to ensure you support your volunteers and offer them opportunities to share in your organization’s mission
  • Process credit card payments and provide capacity for mobile and online giving
  • Provide enough flexibility to support your mission-specific functions like tracking, analyzing and reporting on programs and services like specific events, support groups and other mission-based activities
  • Allow your organization to stay in touch with stakeholders and have constituent relationship management (CRM) compatibility
  • Record donor history, individual interests and level of involvement with the organization in order to optimize the timing and strategy behind requests
  • Produce reports and meaningful information to share with committees and management while providing a lens for focusing on the big picture
  • Organize information in a useful, quickly accessible format during conversations with constituents and stakeholders
  • Manage pledges, gifts, grants and revenue sources and link to the accounting applications
  • Protect confidential information from unauthorized access while providing the proper level of access to your teams as needed
  • Offer functionality that fits the environment of your workforce?

Gerber-MarkReaching your fundraising goals depends on building and maintaining a strong connection between your organization and your donor base.  In a perfect world, you’d spend all your time doing just that.  But the reality is, you’re being pulled in all directions — making it very difficult to stay on task.

The bottom line is that when you maximize your time and that of your staff and volunteers, you can focus on what matters most: furthering donor relations and supporting your mission.  Choosing the right software can help you do just that.

Go back to Part 1
Go on to Part 3

Mark Gerber is the regional sales manager at ResultsPlus (RP) nonprofit CRM (Constituent Relationship Management).  ResultsPlus software has been helping more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations and professionals reach their fundraising goals since 1985.  Based in Rochester, Minn., ResultsPlus prides itself on the difference it makes allowing its users to grow alongside their fundraising success by implementing inclusive, functional software.  For more information, visit www.resultsplussoftware.com.