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A Genuine Connection

Every nonprofit has a connection with every client.  Some of the connections exist only in the digital world and are very frail.  Others involve frequent, in-person meetings and are very robust.

The format of the connection (digital, small group, one-on-one, etc.) and the length of each contact in combination is less important than the robustness of the relationship.  After the fact, it is easy to determine the robustness.  All one must do is look at the impact on the client’s life and their ability to achieve the desired outcomes.  There is a direct connection between robustness, impact, and outcomes.

Robustness is another ways of asking if the client received the information they needed, in a format they could use, tailored to their specific situation, and provided at the optimal moment.  When the stars align perfectly, magic happens – A life changes in a meaningful, measureable, and durable way.

Having everything aligned perfectly depends on five elements:

CollaborationYour team and client must collaborate.  Collaboration implies common goals, flexibility, and the willingness to try the untested.  It ultimately results in customized services for each client.

Engagement – Your team must cultivate the engagement of each client.

ImpactLook beyond meeting the client’s needs to provide the client with benefits that change the client’s life and the lives of those important to the client.

Trust – The relationship must be close enough to ensure there is a free and open flow of information.  That requires a high level of trust, mutual empathy, and good communications.

Teamwork – The client and your service providers must form a high-functioning team.

The result is a great partnership.  It is a partnership that is mutually valuable.  Each side’s success depends on providing value for the other.  It is also a partnership that has a high probability of sustainability after the client completes the program.  The value the client receives and the impact on the client’s life, lay a foundation for continuing contact.  The continuing contact will allow the partnership to continue, which makes it possible for your team to track the outcomes and provide helpful guidance.  It also provides an opportunity to cultivate the client’s gratitude and attract the client as a donor, volunteer, referral source, advocate, or a combination.  When your programing impacts the client’s life, the future possibilities are limitless.

When the connection is genuine and valuable for the client, there is the potential for a meaningful and durable partnership.  The process described above changes the focus from meeting the needs to connecting with a client and providing the customized services that have will have the greatest impact on the client’s life and those close to the client.

Next Step:

Focus on creating a genuine connection with each client

Determine the common attributes of your most engaged clients

Determine what an ideal collaboration with each client looks like

Determine what questions can be asked of each client to discover the impacts that will have the most effect on their lives and the lives of those close to the client

Create a structured, intentional process that will enable your team to align services and create the highly-effective connection you need with every client

When you are building the process to create the ideal connection, you need to understand the impact many variables have on each of your clients (demographics, capabilities, motivation, history, etc.).  Client needs are inconsistent and constantly changing.  Even so, your process must be able to function consistently, reproduce success regardless of the client, and be scalable (allow your nonprofit to serve an unlimited number of clients with minimal additional effort).

The connection between your nonprofit and your clients determines both sides’ potential for success.  Ensure your intake process provides your staff with clients who can be engaged, will collaborate, and believe in your mission.

As you transition to the new service delivery model, be highly selective.  You can broaden your criteria when your process proves it is consistent, reproducible, and scalable.

Take It Further:

Ask your board to change the way it evaluates the success of your programing to better conform to the new service delivery model

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