Trusted Advisor

When a client chooses your nonprofit, they are labeling your nonprofit “preferred service provider”.  They may have chosen your nonprofit because of convenience (easy walk from their home), economic reasons (lowest cost), or substantive reasons (your reputation as the best).  Your future and the client’s future depend on becoming their trusted advisor.

You want your services to earn your nonprofit the label of “trusted advisor”.  A trusted advisor provides advice, coaching, and guidance specifically tailored to one’s needs in addition to the services one expects.  If your nonprofit is only a preferred service provider, there is always a chance that someone else will become the top choice.  However, if their experience tells them that you have the trustworthy advice (based upon whatever criteria are important to the client), they are unlikely to seek help elsewhere.

If someone wants advice, they can Google it.  If they want advice they can trust, they must go to a source they trust.  While providing services, your team has the opportunity to truly know each client and build the client’s trust.  When you use what you know to advise the client, you have the opportunity to provide services and advice that are difficult to beat.  Your good advice adds significant value to the relationship and the client’s outcomes.

Becoming a client’s trusted advisor creates a competitive advantage.  It is also an advantage that is difficult for others to overcome.  It creates a sticky relationship with the client.

Clients seldom walk away from high-value relationships.  Your nonprofit probably has a few clients who have proactively sustained the relationship even though the services have ended.  Increasing the value of your nonprofit’s advice will increase the number of clients who sustain their relationship with your nonprofit.

Since the advice is customized for each client, it has a higher value than advice from any other source.  The value of the advice and the potential to receive valuable advice in the future creates a willingness to sustain the relationship.

Retaining the relationship after services end enhances your nonprofit’s opportunity to track long-term outcomes.  The quality of every nonprofit’s long-term outcomes are becoming more important to donors, foundations, and other funding sources.  They are also becoming important in the selection process used by many clients.

When clients see your nonprofit as a trusted advisor, it increases the perception of the relevance of your mission.  Your nonprofit’s sustainability depends in part on your community’s perception of your mission’s relevance.  With a growing sense of relevance comes an increase in community support.  Highly relevant nonprofits also find it easier to retain donors and increase donor generosity.

Next Steps:

Use what you know about your clients to provide them with advice

Customize the advice you give your clients to fit their individual needs

Become the trusted advisor of each of your clients

Use the durability of your nonprofit’s relationship with its clients as a success measure for your client advice

It is unnecessary for your good advice to be directly related to the services being provided.  For example, a youth center might provide after-school tutoring and athletic activities.  Its high-value advice might be helping parents with discipline or motivational ideas.  What is collateral knowledge for your staff may be strategic knowledge for your clients or the family members of your clients.

Creating a sustainable relationship with your client’s support system can be as valuable to your clients and your nonprofit as a sustainable relationship with your clients.  In either case, you have the opportunity to collect the information about long-term outcomes that will drive program development, donor loyalty, and community support.

The knowledge you give away makes your nonprofit valuable.

Take It Further:

Become your donors’ trusted advisor

Use your staff’s knowledge to position your nonprofit as one of your community’s trusted advisors and most valuable assets


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