I tried a new gelato café that opened riverside in my town in the Fox Valley this weekend and had to make a difficult choice from about 35 amazing flavors. Do I take a risk, venturing into some new area of taste, or do I stick with the familiar, with something that begins or ends in chocolate or peanut butter? Choices like this, the trivial choices that fill our lives, are made according to taste or curiosity or whim, but even they can be directed by values. For instance, risk aversion or ...Read More »
As an organizational leader, do you have a vision? Is your organization focused on a clear and broadly understood vision of your corporate purpose and future? “If there is no vision, ” a 1599 version of Proverbs 29:18 reads, “the people decay.” Without a vision, missions can stagnate or waste away. A vision is an answer to the question: “What can and should we accomplish?” Scott, Jaffe and Tobe in their book Organizational Vision, Values, and Mission, write: “Establishing a vision is pictur...Read More »
The tough work of building organizational trust. Trust is a provisional grant that if not supported by action will be removed. It’s a slippery word because of frequent violations! Trust took a hit with the Joe Isuzu farcical television commercials of the 1980s, and Ronald Reagan redefined trust as he created an arms treaty with the Soviets, coining a kind of conditional trust with the phrase: “Trust, but verify.” Most of us are great fans of trust because at its most basic level, trust is sel...Read More »
By Jim Jewell A group of our friends led a wonderful start-up that was trying to bring new perspectives to the environment cause, to reach faith-based constituencies who were not traditional supporters of environmental concerns. They had the plan worked out on paper, and even had a foundation to underwrite the effort for a couple of years. But although there were many who cheered from the sidelines, very few people were committed enough to provide significant financial support. When the ...Read More »
How to build the trust that fuels program growth By Jim Jewell In the last year, some two thirds of Americans responded to appeals from charities for support of projects to meet human needs, create new initiatives, advance faith, and reverse wrongs. Nonprofit organizations received $298 billion in donations and were supported by about 64.5 million volunteers. Unfortunately, the support is fleeting. For every 100 new donors, American nonprofits lost 107. A new report concluded that for ev...Read More »
Donor attrition has always been a problem in mass fundraising, where personal touches are difficult and the ability to communicate impact is limited. Now, widespread personal losses in recent years and the failure of institutions of all kinds to prove trust-worthy have produced a dangerous culture of mistrust. One consequence: the relationships that nonprofits rely on to sustain programming and to keep fundraising costs down are in short supply.
Since the devastating impact of the recession in 2008 and 2009, charities have found ways to raise funds from new sources, and have--as a whole--managed a few percentage points of growth in 2010 and 2011. Fundraisers have done their job.
The problem: although ability to find new donors has kept most organizations afloat since 2009, the number of existing donors who have stopped giving has increased even more. Put another way, organizations have been able to get first dates, but the number of ongoing relationships is in a tail spin. In 2011, for every 100 new donors to organizations, 107 people ended the relationship.
Over the last five years, the addition of new donors gained has remained strong, annually in the mid to high 50% level. But the number of people abandoning the relationship has been higher, or at best about the same number. Organizations are stagnating, not because they don’t know how to present their mission and attract donors, but because they can’t maintain the relationships.
As never before, it is vital that organizations focus more attention on aligning all related groups—board, leadership, staff, volunteers, program partners, members, recipients, and yes, donors—around robustly communicated vision, mission, and core values. In addition, organizations must drill deep into the principles of developing and maintaining community, a fellowship, ‘small platoons’ around common causes.
For there is nothing more costly to an organization than a broken relationship.
|Donors Gained and Lost (%) over previous year*|
|Funds Gained from New Donors and Lost by Donor Attrition (%)*|
*Source: Association of Fundraising Professionals Annual Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report
One of the most difficult tasks in leadership is pointing the ship and keeping it focused every day, week, month and year, upon reaching a critical destination. To review: Having a clear understanding the values and vision of the organization (V of VALCORT) is essential for creating trust and getting others to join in the quest. Without clarity of this, people can’t understand your direction, buy-in, and invest their own passion, time and energy in accomplishing the vision. Without clarity...Read More »
The core of growth is the ability to build and nurture trust. The Four Stages of Trust is the blueprint to guide anyone into a high-trust relationship that creates change and fuels growth. The Four Stages of Trust are: Shared Values Shared Vision Assumed Responsibility Always delivering on your promise In an organization, we will assume for the moment that we have established shared values with a customer, and following that we have moved on to discuss and define a shared vision (the V...Read More »
While I enjoy a cup of coffee every day, I know that I need to drink water. Water sustains life, coffee is a substitute, albeit a fine one. Growing up in my father’s house, tea was always the beverage of choice. Now I have to say, my first impression of a swig of coffee was bitter, harsh, strong. It wasn’t my “cup of tea.” But I soon learned that wooing my wife required daily conversation over coffee, bread and cheese. And I acquired a taste for it that continues with a daily morning cup w...Read More »
Values are the ground-zero of decision making. We purchase based on what we value. We sacrifice time, money and resources to have what we value.
Values are the heart motivation that cause people to make choices and take action. They are based on beliefs or ideals about what is good or or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values can be lasting and intrinsic, such as the inherent value of life, friendship, community. They can also be secondary, or learned and adaptive values such as wealth, mobility, or fitness. Values inform us in the decisions we make influencing our purchases, attitudes, behaviors. Values can change over time and across a lifetime. For example, the values an adolescent holds may be very different from the values the same person holds as an eighty year old.
Intrinsic values, like the preservation of life for example, can also be twisted, impacted by another’s beliefs, behavior and actions. An abusive parent, can twist a child’s perspective of the value of their life, impacting their a natural respect for another. A terrorist may be willing to trade his life and murder others based on a desirable future in an unknown afterlife, all this influenced by another teacher or mentor.
Politicians have an ability to project certain values that resonate with others in society, attracting them to their cause. These shared values, generate a shared vision of what could be, driving people to choose and support them.
Ultimately, as business leaders we are in the business of serving our customers, helping them choose products and services that bring life and health. Anything other than this is hedonistic, existential and hopeless.
As marketers and communicators dedicated to serve our customers, we must focus on understanding both the timeless and changing values of our target audiences. We must focus on how our products and services actually reinforce these life-giving values inherent in everyone.
Classic selling of product or service features and benefits is shiny-object selling -- trendy and short-lived. Great companies make a values-to-values connection creating deep engagement, trust, loyalty, and advocacy.