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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

donorsMany nonprofits place the focus of their fundraising efforts on broadening their base of support, and increasing the reach of their messaging in order to recruit new donors. Retaining your current donors, however, is just as important as attracting new ones.

Generally, it’s easier to convince an existing donor to donate again than it is to convince individuals that are unfamiliar with your organisation to donate to your cause. This is because your current donors are likely already acquainted with your nonprofit’s mission and the important work that your NFP does to help its community.

While existing donors are already aware of the good work that you do, that doesn’t mean that you no longer have to put forth any effort if you want to receive additional contributions. In fact, it can require a great deal of follow-up and interaction to retain an existing donor and encourage them to continue to donate on a regular basis.

Maintaining the relationship and encouraging donor engagement is critical, the following are a few tips to improve your relationship with your existing network of donors so that they are more likely to want to continue to support your cause.

Show Gratitude

One reason way some donors choose to not make repeat donations is that they do not feel as though their contributions are appreciated. On your organisation’s website, make certain that you are expressing a heartfelt thank you to all donors, regardless of the level of their donation. Ensure that your online donations send an automatic expression of thanks at the moment that the donation is made.

To encourage repeat donations, especially to contributors who make larger contributions, or re-occurring payments, use a more personal touch to show your thanks. A handwritten note sent by post, a telephone call, or even taking the time to thank the donor in person all require extra effort and show your donors that your organisation truly appreciates their support.

For regular donors, and large donations, you might even consider sending complimentary free tickets to your nonprofit’s next gala, ball, auction or other event to show your appreciation and gratitude. Offering donors, perks, awards and other forms of recognition goes a long way towards building a relationship with your donors and keeping them happy and engaged with your nonprofit.

Keep them Updated

Donors are more likely to continue to contribute to your nonprofit when you keep them updated and informed about your latest, news, events and projects on a regular basis. Ensure that your website has a page that is devoted to interest stories that show the impact of your non-profit’s work.

Use social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep donors updated as well as to offer recognition for their efforts by giving individuals donors a shout out when they participate and give during special drives and other fundraising events.

Make certain that you post updates on items of interest to your donors in all of your nonprofit’s publications, including newsletters, emails, podcasts, and videos. Donors normally contribute because they want to make a difference and they are more likely to contribute on a regular basis when they can “see” the progress that your nonprofit is making towards fulfilling its mission.

Be Transparent

Donors are more likely to give to nonprofits when they trust them and the individuals that are involved with the day to day operations of the organisation. Take steps to increase your NFP’s transparency. Publish financial updates that show the status of your nonprofit’s financials. Devote a specific page to financials on your nonprofit’s website and update it frequently. Include staff pages and short biographies for board members, administrators and other employees or volunteers so that donors can learn about the backgrounds and personalities of those who are integrally involved in your organisation.

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college-1280964_640Having a sense of community in an NFP of any size is beneficial but even more in a large NFP to give a real sense of engagement and inclusion.

Build a sense of community in your not for profit

Building a sense of community allows everyone to feel like they are doing their part and helping to shape the overall project. By doing this, you will find your employees and volunteers will go over and above what is asked of them.

Together you can work hard during the challenges and celebrate the successes.

Let your volunteers and employees engage fully

A strong bond between members in the NFP will help develop a strong shared vision and bring your mission statement to life. If your volunteers or employees feel like they are segregated from other members due to their work situation or positioning, then their role will seem no more than just a ‘job’.

Allow your volunteer treasurer to have the opportunity with your marketing team and vice versa. Enable everyone to create a connection with others and engage on a positive and meaningful level.

Generate excitement around projects

A sense of community will allow a real buildup of excitement and motivation take place when you are due to launch a new project. This will give your project much momentum and give plenty of opportunities for participation.

Your supporters will act as champions to spread the word about your project and maintain momentum for the overall project.

Initiate events to build community

The sense of community does not always come naturally particularly if there is a real mix of backgrounds and individuals in the group. Initiate events to allow people to get to know each other and build on their commonality – the want or need to support the non-profit and raise money to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Ensure clear communication at all times

It is so much easier for everyone to work together once they have a clear view of the NFP’s vision and what they are working towards. If communication is lost and people are carrying out tasks with no set direction, then motivation can be hard to find.

Ensure that all the channels of communication are open both upward and downward and everyone is up to speed with their responsibilities. And this goes for listening as well. If people feel that they are being heard, they will be only too keen to provide feedback and offer support.

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teamworkVolunteers may come into your NFP as individuals, but you need them to work together as a group. This doesn’t always happen naturally, but there are things you can do to help bond your people into a devoted team.

Know their reasons for volunteering

Some people like to help out in many places; some will be drawn just to your organisation. Understanding why each individual is there will help you to keep them engaged and inspired, whether they want to learn new skills, fill some free time, or just love to help others.

It will also help you to build an effective team of like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. Volunteering is often a social activity where people make new friends.

Communicate

This is the easiest and most effective way to keep your team motivated, but it’s easy to overlook. Expectations should be clear and responsibilities of each person should be laid out, providing a path to success. Provide instruction and offer additional training if needed.

Don’t forget to listen as well as talk. Volunteers are the people at the heart of your organisation; ask for feedback and be open to suggestions. Talking to them before hiring an expensive consultant can save your NFP time and money.

Share the vision

Your NFP has a big picture and volunteers work on small goals toward making it happen. Show them how the work their team is doing fits into the overall plan, so they know what they’re working toward.

Instead of taking over, delegate responsibility. For instance, don’t hand down a to-do list. Instead, ask the team to make small and large goals for their project. Give your people more control, and they will be driven to make things happen – plus they’ll keep the pressure on the other members of the team.

Let them know they’re making a difference

When a goal is reached, or progress is made, share that with the team so they can see the results of their hard work. For example after building a school, invite the volunteers to visit and see classrooms full of children.

Show appreciation

It’s simple: say thank you! Say it in person when you see them, say it publicly on social media with photos showing off their hard work. Reward the team by celebrating together when important projects come to an end.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you aren’t excited about your NFP, no one else will be either. Have fun and your people will too!

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Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzle and represent

While some organisations focus solely on their clients, others realise that their people are their most important asset. Team building exercises have long been recognised as a great way to help groups break down barriers between associates and foster greater levels of communication and trust while boosting morale.

When most of us think of ways to build teams, shared activities such as a retreat or cookout often come to mind. Events like these provide a relaxed and informal space for workers to get to know one another on a personal basis. Unfortunately, due to the time and expense involved, these types of events are often only held on an annual or semi-annual basis. If your organisation is suffering from a lack of morale and cohesion, you really can’t wait for the next group picnic to turn things around!

Why the best education is all fun and games

A great way to quickly get everyone on the same page in your organisation is to have a little fun and play some games. Before you dismiss this suggestion, think back to your early school days. When was learning and cooperation the easiest? Why, when you and your classmates were having fun while trying to achieve a shared goal, of course!

The benefits of team building games

Make time on a regular basis for some fun and games in your organisation. Choose games that require members to step out of their comfort zones and routines and ask questions as well as actively listen. Playing games not only shakes up the routine and breaks up the monotony in your organisation,  it will help your associates to develop their problem solving skills, and creativity, and help them to feel free to open up and discuss ideas.

As your associates have to rely on one another and work together to find a solution, they will build bonds that they will carry over into their regular work space, increasing cooperation, innovation, efficiency and productivity regardless of what specific work they happen to be doing at the moment.

Suggestions to get your game on

A recent article in the online journal, Call Centre Helper, offered some suggestions for fun and challenging games that many teams might enjoy trying to tackle. A simple online search for the term ‘team building games’ can also help you to find appropriate team building exercise for your associates.

In general, role playing games, or games where associates must cooperate and share information in order to solve the puzzle, generally work the best to help associates step into one another’s shoes and see different perspectives.

Don’t resolve yourself to traditional thinking when it comes to picking out a team building exercise for your group. Even something as simple as dividing your associates into groups that have a friendly competition to raise money for a favorite charity has the power to bring people together and focus on doing their best to achieve a common goal.

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Beautiful business woman smiling and looking at camera in a modern office

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The impression you make in the first seconds you meet someone can greatly influence what happens next. Whether you get the job, make the friend, keep the job or get the promotion, those immediate signals and signs you send can make all the difference.

In lightning speed, some say as little as 7 seconds, you unconsciously make judgments and decisions around the person you just met. Why so fast? When our survival depended on whether the person or the animal in front of us was friend or foe we had to make a fast and accurate decision or it could be the last we ever made. This is a prehistoric survival mechanism that now flows into every initial interaction we make.

First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes – Elliott Abrams

In an employment or business context your first impression and the decision you make around it are not a matter of life or death, but they are still fairly critical. Is this someone you want to engage with or avoid? What is your status or authority? And often most importantly, can you be trusted, are you competent, confident and likable? Do I want to work with you?

You can’t stop people from making snap decisions, and some people will always jump to the wrong conclusion or be offended by an obvious trait or adornment, tattoos or piercings for example, but if you understand how the decision making process works you can use it in your favour and make sure those first few seconds are as good as they can be.

Attitude is instant. Finding the balance between anxious and over confident is an individual as well as a challenging thing, but consider the message you want to send before you enter that interview or step up to present. Nerves are not always a bad thing, as they show you care, but you don’t want to quiver and shake either. Confidence is essential but being cocky can also be very off putting.

Stand tall. Put your shoulders back, elongate your neck and keep your head straight. Regardless of your height, strength, status and power are demonstrated in the amount of space you take up. Just think about the cobra preparing to strike. You don’t want to bite your target but standing tall sets a good impression.

Be welcoming. Smile! Being seen as friendly and approachable is key, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel you can always manage a smile.

Make eye contact. This is one of the key strategies in showing trustworthiness and likeability. Being unable to look someone in the eye is often associated with a lack of integrity and truth, and it’s impossible to connect with someone without looking them in the eye. And if you simultaneously raise your eyebrows to make your eyes slightly more open than normal this sends a signal of recognition and acknowledgment.

Shake it out. Did you know it can take up to three hours of interaction to develop the same rapport you get by shaking hands with someone? Not too hard or too much like a dead fish, too brief or too long. There’s a balance there but a good hand shake is essential to a good first impression so don’t miss the opportunity.

It’s not what you wear, it’s how you present yourself that determines what your first impression will be – Unknown

Every encounter with a new person brings a wealth of opportunity and you never know where it can lead, but rarely more important than in a job interview.

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pedestrians-400811_640Working with small businesses has many advantages, a fact easily overlooked when the big ones dominate the consumer landscape with a big budget advertising presence. More enjoyable to recognise than a corporate logo, however, are the faces of individuals who work in small companies. Within smaller business settings, it is possible to put names to faces. Within smaller businesses, you know who you are dealing with, and are not offering feedback on forms that are never personally addressed.

As it is easier for smaller companies to attend to complaints, customer service is usually far superior with small businesses. In turn, great service encourages loyalty, and helps ensure success of smaller businesses. It is erroneous to think that larger businesses have better chances of longevity, as small businesses help secure their place by working within their communities, rather than competing or seeking to replace other, smaller businesses. Many people prefer to support businesses that are local to them, when given the option. Also, personal reputations are tied to small businesses, and word of mouth reviews are important. The distance between the customer base and management is much smaller, so consumer recommendations are heard. It is faster to implement changes within smaller businesses, so smaller businesses are usually more sensitive to changing consumer needs, and can be flexible to individual requirements of loyal customers.

Smaller businesses appreciate individual customers more than large corporate entities, and also appreciate the people behind the scenes who help their businesses grow and flourish. Working with smaller businesses means working with individuals who have pride in their work, and in what they offer their communities. Overall, working for small businesses holds many advantages that a more famous logo cannot compete with.

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Businessman and businesswoman using laptop in office

Put the #social back in #socialmedia

Using social media to promote an organisation, its operations and events is a primary way to get a message out these days. A quick search for almost any school, business or organisation will turn up their Twitter and Facebook pages, which can have advantages over other media as it can be immediate and brief, and is independent of journalism. Latest findings from Canterbury Christ Church University, however, indicate that while social media use is widespread in the field, up to 40% of PR workers are not truly engaging with other users.

Promoting and reposting happens a lot, with PR workers using social media platforms to connect with  loyal and potential customers alike. Tweets and Facebook posts are effective promotional tools as they arrive within a feed of personalised, invited materials, so people are generally quite receptive to their content. It is an informal seeming way to project the image and operations of a business. But if users are not engaging with the people seeing their posts, and commenting or asking questions, the true potential of the medium is being underused.

Social media is a conversation. There is a to and fro, and give and take. When effectively used, conversations had or ‘overheard’ can stick in viewers minds for years. As well as posting, responding should be an integral part of any social media plan. Showing your value them enough to engage will increase the loyalty of your followers, and help spread the word about your work. Consider asking your audience questions to encourage engagement, and remember, humorous and interesting content always as the potential to go viral.

If you are using social media, remember that people (including mainstream media) consider it a communicative channel. Ideally, you will be treating every approach to your social media page as you would any phone call to your office. Responding in a timely manner demonstrates your respect for your clients, and will help your organisation grow.

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