Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 13

The experience is the total impression that members get, from the logo, to your colors, to the cleanliness of the operation, to the location, to how they’re greeted and treated, to how you and your team handle problems. It’s every connection and touch point. Sadly, most nonprofit executives don’t really know what their members want. You might think you do yet, if you ask the question, you’ll probably be surprised at the answer. This is because, unless you’re new to the organization, you no longer see the flaws or perfection that your organization exhibits. You’ve become immune to the broken electric outlet plate, the scuffed paint, or the bedraggled potted fern, which are all part of the experience. It’s time to freshen up your brand. In any case,what you think you’re delivering is probably missing the mark from what your members want you to deliver. That’s where there’s room to grow. Proper Branding Fixes Operational Issues Review your operation and define the desired member experience for each of the branding elements. Getting your brand right will fix many, if not all, of your operational problems. Having problems with donations meeting your budget? Then there’s a value problem. Having problems with membership falling off? You’ve got a problem with experiences that they want. Having problems with recruiting? Mem- bers aren’t telling - or won’t tell - others about what you’re offering. If any of the six elements of branding are missing or out of alignment, it’s not a sustainable, scalable brand. Brand experience happens at every touchpoint a member has with the organization’s environment, products, and people. As the organization’s leader, you’re responsible for getting those points right. Brand gets reinforced through the design of operational systems, ensuring that the team delivers the desired member experience and offers ways of managing exceptions

that indicate a potential business rule change. Systems with too much rigidity open the market to competition that can better respond to member demands with reduced friction. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for culture can include member satisfaction scores (yes, this is where this belongs), member alignment with stated target member goals, employee satisfaction scores, and personal satisfaction of the executive team. You can use these feedback scores to keep an eye on brand alignment. The Impact of Culture on Brand Many organizations underestimate the power of culture. Culture is the unspoken or codified rules of conduct that define how our organization’s team behaves, how we treat each other, and ultimately how we treat prospects and members. Culture determines the success of the nonprofit business model. Culture overrules everything, whether it’s defined, allowed, or tolerated. No matter what the mission statement or business rules say, culture dominates the tone of your operation.

organization’s brand. Get the culture right first, and then build your brand on your well defined and well managed culture. Ask Yourself: • What is the brand expectation of donors? • What is the brand expectation of members? • What is the brand expectation of prospective members? • How well do I really know the brand expectations of my members? • What operational issues do I face because of misaligned culture and brand? • How can I pivot those misalignments back to where we want them? Ask Your Team: • How would you describe our brand to our team? • How would you describe our brand to our members? • How would you describe our brand to prospective members? • If there isn’t complete alignment with these three questions, why is that the case? • How closely aligned is what we deliver, compared with what we promise our members? • What have members been asking for that we’re not delivering? Action Plan: • Review your culture manifesto for aligning with member expectations. • Check your brand messaging and identity against your culture. • Adjust any branding to align with your culture and member identity. • Find more members just like them. Want to talk about it? Let’s have a conver- sation. Mark S A Smith works with leaders to predictably grow their organizations through upgraded executive leadership skills and effective member acquisition systems. He regularly hosts the Executive Strategy Summit to help you up-level your executive mindset, skillset, and tool set; you’ll leave with a fresh, Monday- ready business plan for your organization.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. – Peter Drucker

Most nonprofits start out with the founder’s personal culture being the organizational culture. As the organization grows, the founder hires people they know, so they easily align with that undocumented culture. When the organization grows beyond the founder’s family and friends, they inadvertently hire people who don’t share their same culture, and the organization starts to deviate as these new people begin to hire and manage to their personal culture. The only way to keep this from happening is to define culture and have it reflected in the business model and business rules. This is why culture ultimately defines the

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