Thursday, January 6, 2011

Walk the Walk When You're Talking

Sorry I’ve been missing so long – leastwise, I hope you missed me! Lost a family member and nearly lost another one, then my hard drive and internet connection failed nearly simultaneously. But, as musician and songwriter Antsy McClain likes to put it, it’s a good day because “I’m still on the right side of the dirt.” So I’m back with more info for your small nonprofit, social media and otherwise.

Future Supporters

A previous post highlighted creating a connection with young volunteers – kids who choose to do community service (usually) for grades or because a judge said they had to. These are your future (willing) volunteers and donors, and it makes good sense to start off on the right foot with them by trying to get them engaged and interested in your mission. But they aren’t the only ones out there.

You Pay Bills And Hire People, Don’t You?

If you have contact with people in the community in the course of your regular business dealings, and you’re not working to connect with them, you are missing a bet.

They aren’t just the guy who services your copier or the woman who fixes your telephone service or the folks who do the landscape gardening at the business park where you have your tiny office. They are people who live in your community and have a stake in it.

Maybe your plumber belongs to a group like Kiwanis or their union invites people to come in and talk about their charitable missions. You won’t know unless you ask.

Please note that I’m not advocating that you buttonhole the postal worker delivering your mail and harangue him or her for half an hour on why the community needs the services of your small nonprofit. But you could probably put a little more personableness into your interactions than you do. Make the effort to get to know the business and service people you deal with regularly. You may get valuable information about the community and you just might find a ready supporter.

No One Likes To Be Ignored

I know you probably don’t have the budget to be hiring people; maybe you only hire contractors for short-term projects. But if you are looking to hire someone, remember that it’s not all about the job and the winning candidate. It’s also about the ones you don’t interview and don’t hire. I’ve seen nonprofits (and businesses) be inundated with applications for open positions – especially in this economic climate. But that’s no excuse for treating applicants badly, by which I mean:
  • Not letting them know you received their resume
  • Not telling them when you roughly expect the hiring decision to be made
  • Not promptly telling them if they didn’t make the final cut

I once received more than 300 resumes for a job opening and I made sure I replied to each of the applicants the day I got their package. It’s a pain, it takes valuable time, it can be a little depressing, even. But the alternative is to let someone worry and wonder when they might be viewing your job opening as a window on something they’ve always wanted to do. And even if they don’t, is it ever right to leave someone hanging? Put it this way – what would you hope for if you were the one applying for the job?

Good Interactions Leave Good Feelings

You’re an altruist. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in a small nonprofit. Apply that altruism to all of your interactions. Don’t get so caught up in fundraising or publicity or a project for the good of the community that you forget who makes up the community. To paraphrase an old saying: “If any one speak evil of you (or your small nonprofit), let your life (and interactions) be such that no one will believe it.”

No SM Tool of the Week – I’m not that caught up!

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