You know that mission statement that is either on the wall in your office or in some dusty handbook at 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 is.
I’m going to go out on a limb here. But, at Veritus we believe non-profits need to change their mission statements to not just include donors, but to make them half of your 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 can come up with, I’ll have two about why your non-profit needs to change its paradigm regarding how it views donors.
What I’m talking about goes way beyond being donor-centered. I’m talking about changing your organization’s mindset and culture. In short, the way it does business.
For too long we in the non-profit world have looked at our donors as a means to an end. You need their money to get the real work done, right? But what if your real work was not only based on your current mission statement, 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 more successful.
So what does this new paradigm look like?
Well, what if your organization actually had folks whose sole job was to evaluate the programs you have and report on their impact to your donors? I mean, that’s it, that’s all they would do. 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 that 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? Just think of 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 non-profits 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 purpose of your 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 rather, as a vital part of your overall mission.
The for-profit world has gotten this. The extraordinary companies are the ones who spend more money on their employees; they provide incredible customer service and don’t skimp on their product. 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 non-profit paradigm, but folks, as Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are A Changin.” Are you willing to change with them?
Next post: Going from ratios to results—why focusing on results will change your organization and increase your revenue.