Independent Thinking Blog

3 Business Lessons From a Savvy Nonprofit


Business Lessons: Customer Service, Personalized MarketingMany years ago, I was donating money to the same organization as my parents. They were always talking about how responsive the group was, sending them updates, an annual congressional directory, and the like. When I observed that I wasn’t getting any of that, my mom suggested I call them and ask.

The response: Oh, yes, that’s because they give more money. But you can buy our congressional directory (at a price that was higher than the more-comprehensive ones put out by commercial outfits). I never gave them another penny.

Clearly, not every customer, donor, or client is the same–but don’t you want every one of them to think they’re special?

Contrast that to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has treated me like a rock star since my first donation. Their model offers three lessons for business:

1. Information–SPLC routinely sends me relevant information, including progress reports, Teaching Tolerance kits (a schools-based program), and examples of why they exist and my participation matters.

2. Personalization–It’s not hard these days to personalize a message, and yet many organizations forget to tie it to me. SPLC routinely thanks me, and they call me “Ms. Steigman” and don’t presume a familiarity that isn’t there.

3. Results–As the photos above show, SPLC tells me what they’ve done (and thanks me for my role in it). Sure, my donation barely registers in their operating budget, but it’s good to be recognized for my support.

There’s one more thing that I suspect that SPLC knows: regular, long-term small donors are often the best prospects for planned gifts (i.e., big bucks). This is akin to the way that your¬†regular customers are often evangelists for your brand and a good source of referrals.

Are you putting information, personalization, and results to work in your business?

You May Also Like