Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Value of Money

I'd like to start this thought process by asking you a few questions: Do you think it if takes you less time to earn $100 the value of that money changes? Let me put it another way, do you believe $100 means more to a person making $50,000 a year than to someone who makes $250,000 a year?

Apparently, many nonprofits are confused when answering these questions because the value of money seems to change! It is almost magical and there is a REAL presumption that more you make the less value the money must have. But is this true?

If you make more or have more money there is a reason. Granted this reason may be because the person was born into wealth or maybe because the person inherited a lot of wealth. People also make different amounts of money in relation to their education and/or job skills. The reason different people have more money than others depends on all sorts of different situations. 

Regardless of how the money was received let's step back again and look deeper into the question of the value of money.

The paper and coin you hold does not discriminate against the buyer. In our example of $100 the same amount of gas or food can be purchased so what is the difference?

Well, it is because one person has more than the other person! Ok, so this means the more money you have the less value you place on it simply because you have more?
Really, is that logical?

Well, it is not just because one person has more than the other; it is really because the more money you have the "easier" life is for you. You know because you don't have to worry as much about different "things.”

Wow, so more money equals happiness and worrying about less "things"!  Ah, wouldn't it be great if life were that simple where you could always count on a + b 
equaling c no matter what day of the week it occurred.

Nonprofits need to understand that the people they are seeking to get a donation from know the value of money just as much as they do. If you make a personal donation to a cause I would suspect you are not doing so in a blind fashion, but responding in either in a very logical way or because of a certain emotion or attachment you feel for the organization.

Don't assume because someone might earn more or have more money than you do that the money somehow means less to them, because in most cases it does not!  

Money does not make you worry less nor does it buy happiness. If it did all the millionaires in the world would be happy about life.  Money is a tool, in the right hands it can create many things, but it is not the solution to fixing all problems!  

Service After The Sale

Many nonprofits might want to take a moment to look around at their for profit counterparts and see if there are lessons they might learn from their business model. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of nonprofit executive directors have little experience in the for profit world because with that additional experience they might view their responsibility and how to approach donors differently.

People in the car industry are constantly trying to come up with new ideas and incentives to sell you a car. However, most also put a great deal of focus on servicing that vehicle after the sell. They want to keep you coming back to the dealership.

All realtors want to sell you a house, but after the sale they seem to still stay in touch from time to time sending you a calendar you may or may not want or drop you a postcard about the houses that recently sold in your neighborhood. You ever wonder why? Well, you have heard of out the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" right? Well, they don't want to be forgotten.

Have you ever been in a situation when you arrange with someone providing a service you need when the following steps were followed: First they met with you when it is convenient for you to meet. Second you both agreed what needed to be done. Third they scheduled a time to provide the service that was outlined. Fourth they did the service at the time they said they would and at or below the price agreed on in advance. Lastly, they followed up after the service was complete to see if it was satisfactory and met your approval. Also to see if there was anything else that needed to be done or was overlooked.

Now while the above outline might not be an exact match to how you should operate your nonprofit or deal with your donor you can see by using this method of delivery how the focus is on the customer, always!

What Not To Do!

People that go to the post office daily to pick up mail occasionally find that dreaded slip in their box letting them know a package awaits at the window. With this discovery that means standing in line to be served. A few years back under the guise of standardization the post office came up with the:

USPS Strategic Transformation Plan 2006-2010

Now forgive me for being critical because I realize at the time of the publication the post office I think was trying to "standardize" approximately 37,000 retail locations, but seriously are you telling me it takes five years to do this? I just can't help but wonder if Domino's Pizza or FedEx decided to make this project on how long it would take them?

Regardless, on page 60 you will read "The Postal Service recognizes that customers form expectations on critical attributes such as waiting time in line based on their experience with other similar services, and compare Postal Service performance to best-in-class providers." Really, you think? So one solution to improve customer service, remove all the clocks.

Now the only other place that I know that has done, but for an obviously different reason are the casinos in Las Vegas.

So, if people stand in line and can't see a clock they will be less frustrated. Oh yea, that is logical.

Finally, I hope one take away for your nonprofit in all this is for you to consider this question: How are we focusing on our donor?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nonprofit Vocation or Occupation?

According to Wikipedia: “A vocation, from the Latin vocare (verb, to call), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in secular contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.”

My question to you is how do you view your job? Is it “just a job” or a “calling?”

In America we seem to be stuck on giving ourselves titles. Your are Mr., Mrs., Miss or even Ms. but let’s also not forget Dr.

Then for others you have Jr., II, III as well as toss in PhD or even Esq. in addition President, CEO, COO, Vice President, Director of etc.

Isn’t it a shame we don’t use Barron, Duke or Duchess because those sound so impressive don’t they?

I also find it interesting that so many people work at a job to make a pay check but for a moment if you asked them to imagine that they somehow won the lottery or didn’t have to worry about finances anymore, would they still continue to work at their current job? Almost everyone says no, are you kidding?

Why is it that so many people work their entire life in a career that they would toss away so easily? Have we all lost our minds and think so little of our life we are willing to waste it away doing something we really don’t want to do?

I am struck as a consultant the number of conversations I have had with individuals who call me and tell me that they are at a point in their career that they want to re-focus and do something different, something to help people.

Wow, well honestly you don’t have to wait any longer. I am not advocating you to sell all your worldly possessions, so relax, I am suggesting that helping others is not as gigantic as it appears.

Start small… and do something nice and totally unexpected for a stranger within the next 24 hours. After you complete this, write a short note to yourself about how that made you feel. Read it out loud to yourself….Then think about what life would be like if you did this everyday and ask yourself are you willing to allow the gift you have inside of you out and share it with others. What are you waiting for?