Building Relationships

Nowadays, with overloaded schedules and communication limited at on-line contact, relationships are a key factor in the prosperity of non-profit organizations as well as profit-oriented business sector. One of the most important aspects of marketing is building and maintaining strong, fruitful relationships.

This activity is not limited only to volunteers and donors. Staff members, the business sector and even professionals we meet occasionally, like lawyers, accountants, have to be approached and turned into more than just co-workers, they can be motivated by our mission and can have a greater social impact if a relationship with them is cultivated.

It is crucial for a nonprofit to keep a close relationship with their donors. They shouldn't be treated considering the amount of money or time of their donations, all of them should be noticed , highlighting their involvement and effort. There are several practical ways of reaching to them.

The most important aspect is communication. Personal encounters have the most desired impact, while e-mail communication is perceived as cold, distant. It's recommended to organize lunches for the donors, where they can get to know the management and the staff, or other public events where their involvement can be acknowledged. Instead of e-mails, personal handwritten thanks are more emotional-touching. Also, simple, non expensive gifts can make an impact.

When it comes to communicating donors' efforts to the world, blogging about them or mentioning their names in your periodic newsletter is a good way to appreciate them and their impact on society. Next, donors need to have a contribution in your non-profit in order to get more involved. First of all, they should be provided with feedback and asked for advice and input. They should be involved in decisions and events, they should feel that their effort counts and they make a great difference. A donor should be treated first of all as a person. Get to know details about them, family, kids' names, birthdays, preferences and make sure to use those information for the benefit of your relationship. Send birthday cards, soccer game tickets, show empathy to the events in their lives.

Find connection points. Sharing experiences and life with your business partners encourages them to share too and help you discover skills, interests, values that can help you build a stronger bond. It's better to focus on building relationships with your donors instead trying to make them give you money because relationships come with priceless rewards, including fund-raising. Engaging the community in your nonprofit is essential. Communicating your vision can both advertise your services and help people get a benefit from your efforts and attract volunteers too. A nonprofit should be connected to the community it's placed in, because there are countless resources to be used and it's easier to meet social objectives.

In order to gain a real insight into volunteering, you should be aware of the reasons why people choose to invest their time and money in following your cause. First of all, people feel motivated by your organization's mission, they feel it fits their goals and interests, they perceive it as meaningful. People want to have an impact, and an organized effort is sustaining a good cause they subscribe to, make them feel they achieved that impact they aimed for, they made a difference. Last but not least, people want to be acknowledged for their efforts and contribution to build a better community, city, world. All these reasons should be considered when launching a volunteer-recruiting campaign.

Relationships with the business sector became lately very diverse and important to a nonprofit, as they evolved from simple donor-receiver to co-operating relationships. These partnerships vary depending on expectations of both parts and circumstances. These collaborations include advocacy, cause-related marketing, certification, co-branding, corporate volunteer-ism , fund-raising partnership, licensing, philanthropy, promotional partnership, sponsorship and strategic philanthropy.

We are born with the ability to build relationships and the key ingredients for successful relationship building are respect, attention, time, honesty and freedom for people to set the level of closure they are comfortable with.