Make Them Proud

One of the main responsibilities of every executive is to create the conditions that make everyone associated with an organization proud.  This is especially true for nonprofits, since they promise to make meaningful, measurable, and durable differences in their communities.

The primary way to create pride is to ensure that the definitions for meaningful, measurable, and durable inspire stakeholders.  Secondary to that is ensuring that client outcomes live up to the expectations the definitions create.  When the definitions need to be explained or the outcomes need to be justified, they are probably insufficient to create pride but sufficient to blunt or eliminate criticism.

There have been several recent articles in the media about senior executives at major corporations who have been replaced.  While each of the executives has a sterling record of accomplishment, the reason they were replaced is due to a lack of innovation.  The investors are saying that the definition of “Job Well Done” now requires significant and frequent innovations.  Investors want to be proud of their investments and they are redefining what it takes to make them proud.

Most of those investors are also nonprofit donors.  While they may never donate to your nonprofit, your donors follow their example.  Those investors are as selective about where they donate as they are about where they invest.  If your nonprofit can qualify for one of their gifts, it will qualify for any gift anyone in your community wants to make.  They are the trendsetters in philanthropy.  When they begin making those same demands of the nonprofit’s they support, some of your donors will start making the same demands.  It is better to be ahead of the trend than lose a donor, especially when the donor you are likely to lose is a high-value donor.

It is impossible to say how much innovation is enough.  Since donations can flow from anywhere to anywhere, it is easy to say that being the most innovative nonprofit in a small area is probably insufficient but it is a good first milestone for your path forward.

Cachet is another element of pride.  Cachet offers a competitive advantage when attracting clients, donors, staff members, and volunteers (especially board members).

Cachet is something your community and stakeholders create for you.  If you thrill them with the accomplishments of your clients, your stakeholders will create your nonprofit’s cachet.  However, the accomplishments must be consistent, reproducible, and scalable.

Next Step:

Determine your stakeholders’ definition of meaningful, measurable, and durable outcomes (mission effectiveness)

Make innovation a priority

Determine how to increase your nonprofit’s cachet in ways that your community finds meaningful, measurable, and durable

Product or service innovation is important.  So is innovation in all of the other areas of your business model.  You must keep the business model balanced.  Imbalance in your business model makes your nonprofit harder to manage and can be a reason for declining sustainability.

You can use the ease of recruiting clients, donors, staff members, board members and other stakeholders as a way to determine if the pride in your nonprofit is increasing.  You can use the number of stakeholders who self-recruit as an indicator that your nonprofit’s cachet is increasing.  Both are indicators that your nonprofit’s sustainability is increasing.  They also indicate that your community’s perception of your mission’s relevance is increasing.

Take It Further:

Make funding innovation a part of each annual budget

Ensure that every staff member, donor, and volunteer increases your stakeholders’ pride in your nonprofit

Tell prospective board members what service on your board will do for their social and professional resumes

Ensure that every board decision (wording, discussion, vote, and implementation) increases your stakeholders’ pride in your nonprofit


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