My friend, Dr. Larry Cole of Team Max in Conway, shared a story in his March newsletter. I have adapted it to fit what Paul and I find in NPOs. See if this situation applies to your NPO.
You may be surprised to learn about the similarity between Holstein cows and people. The November 2009 issue of Country Living reported a study conducted by Newcastle University of England researchers. They confirmed what dairy farmers had long understood – contented cows produce more milk than their less contented counterparts. These scientists concluded that speaking kindly to cows and treating them with kindness increases their milk production up to 68 gallons of milk annually. The study’s authors reported that stressed-out cows release too much of the hormone Cortisol, which reduces milk production. They also reported that giving the cows names had additional benefits in terms of their milk production.
Now what does this Holstein research have to do with people? It is no secret that people like to be valued. They find their name is sweet music to their ears. The best ways to show that you value the staff, volunteers, clients and donors of your NPO is an easy list:
- Use their names in conversations.
- Show them that you care for them as an individual.
- Engage them in your NPO’s decision-making process.
- Provide meaningful and challenging work/assignments.
It is a well-know personnel management fact that when supervisors treat people like the Holstein farmers reported in this research treated their cows, production improves along with the quality of the product and safety. Therefore, how we should treat people should a no-brainer.
Gardner & Associates encourages NPO leaders, both staff and board to consider four actions to enhance the environment in your organization or agency:
1. Be personable. Call people by name, and show a genuine personal interest in them.
2. Make work meaningful. Create an atmosphere that welcomes innovation and dedication.
3. Set the example. People like to work with thosethey respect.
4. Challenge yourself and others to continue to grow.
Often, when we feel the pressure of time and other demands, we forget the basics. Keep alert to the tone and values that you set for your NPO. Take a lesson from the English dairy farmers and treat your staff, volunteers and donors with respect and caring. Instead of increased milk production, you will likely see increases in volunteer and staff productivity and donations to you NPO.
Larry’s story brings to mind Mark Twain’s comment, “Always do good. It will gratify some and absolutely confuse the rest.”
OVERCOMING FUNDRAISING FRIGHT
The most common reaction that Gardner & Associates experiences in working with NPO board members is their discomfort, reluctance or fear of asking for money. It follows closely behind the fear of heights and public speaking.
The best way to address fundraising fright is to remove the mystery and make it personal. Consider four actions to increase your board members’ comfort level:
1. Concentrate on building the awareness and engagement of your board regarding the mission and programs of your NPO. The more they know and experience, the more comfortable and more likely they are to talk about their experience.
2. Encourage your board to serve as “ambassadors” for your NPO. After building up their awareness, challenge them to share their experiences with their friends.
3. Begin the year with a personal appeal among your board members. Recruit a team to help cultivate their peers. Use the process as a practice for external fundraising. Making an appeal to your board peers can build your confidence.
4. Promote a culture of cultivation and appreciation. Engage your board members in recognizing current donors. Invite them to learn what motivated them to give. Then, encourage them to learn from those experiences to cultivate their peers who are prospective donors. A gradual process of building confidence and exposure will build an excitement and momentum.
Communicate, Motivate and Inspire. Not everyone can be a fundraiser. Everyone can be an ambassador, cheerleader or cultivator. The critical element is giving your board members the information, experience, awareness and confidence they need to tell the story of your NPO to their family, friends and business associates. Spreading the good word and sharing their pride in being a part of that good work is the best place to start the process of overcoming fundraising fright.
IT REALLY WORKS
Since January I have been the President of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks board. This new role is giving me the opportunity to put into practice those “nuggets” of consulting information that Paul and I have shared with clients over the past decade.
In a recent conversation with Paul about my experience with BGSO, I told him, “You know, this stuff really works.” In fact, it does.