Normally, Richard and I don’t write about our clients, but today I’m making an exception because I think I just witnessed one of the best annual meetings of a non-profit ever.
Many of you know that Richard and I frequently talk about how the mission of a non-profit should be half to those you serve and half to the care of your donors. Yes, it’s a radical idea and rarely do we see it in action, but when you witness it in action like I just did…you have to tell someone.
Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago holds an annual meeting. They invite board members, staff and donors to a one-hour program, and then invite them all for wine and appetizers afterward.
On the surface, you’d think, “Okay, just another non-profit event…ho hum.”
Not this one.
As you walk into the auditorium, you see large photos of children on the stage. Donors, doctors, board members and staff all sit together. The energy in the room is amazing.
The program begins with the board chair welcoming everyone, then immediately transitions to a live shot on the big screen of the inside of the new building to be opened in just a few months. There is a young girl on the screen, a former patient, welcoming everyone to the annual meeting. Already you have a lump in your throat.
Next, the president of the hospital gets up to talk about the upcoming move. He thanks everyone and introduces a grateful family.
This is how it goes for one hour: The grateful family shares the story of how their child’s life was saved at the hospital…tears begin welling up in peoples’ eyes. Then a doctor comes up and discusses the latest groundbreaking research… followed by another live broadcast from the new hospital, this time a tour of the new wing for infants, led by a parent along with the doctor who saved her baby’s life. Next, a three-minute video is played showing a child who needed a liver transplant and an interview with the doctor who performed the transplant. Finally, back live to the new hospital revealing an indoor sculpture space and an interview with a child and the designer of the space.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. And these tears were not just flowing from the donors’ eyes…but board members, doctors and staff too!
I felt so privileged to be there. But wait…there’s more.
As people were walking out into the reception area, I was amazed at how the doctors, board members, staff and donors were all mingling together. There were doctors thanking donors, donors thanking doctors and everyone feeling tremendous about the place they chose to give part of their lives to.
Then it hit me. This is how it’s supposed to work. This is how it feels when the mission of an organization is brought to life in a real way to those who benefit from the work, those who give to make it happen and those who carry it out every day.
Your organization can do this too. No, it’s not about doing a great event like this. In fact, it’s not about an event at all. It’s about recognizing every day that we’re all in this together…that donors are just as much a part of your mission as those you serve and those who do the work.
If you and your organization can “get” that simple truth, amazing things will always happen.