Issue 21, Winter 2011
As an excuse not to change or do something differently, how often have you heard someone in your organization say, "Well… this is the way we've always done it!"
Well… this is no time to be an ideologue, or in other words, to be stuck in your old habits and ways.
Partly due to the Great Recession, partly due to rapid advances in technology and in part due to changes in our cultural norms we have entered into what I refer to as the Age of the New Normal. And this New Normal is affecting every facet of how organizations conduct their businesses, from raising funds to using new technologies to workplace issues.
To stay current and viable as an organization in this Age of the New Normal, here are just a few of the questions that need answers:
For decades, countless nonprofits have relied largely or exclusively on local, state and federal funding, or a combination of all three, to achieve their missions. If yours is one of them, and you haven't already experienced a decrease in your funding, brace yourself. Given the state of most government budgets, it's just a matter of time.
The Age of the New Normal demands that you start seeking alternate sources of funding. Despite these hard economic times, there is money to tap into. Which leads us to the next question….
If so, get over it.
A lot of the available non-government money that's out there is in the hands of people who made their fortunes in the private sector. Many are seeking to support good causes. But only organizations that can effectively and clearly make their case by successfully explaining to these potential funders who they are, what they do, how they do it — and most important, why it matters — will be on the receiving end.
In other words, marketing and branding should be integral parts of your business strategy.
If so, you've got a tough row to hoe.
Under the New Normal, funders are seeking ever-greater accountability, transparency, responsibility — and demonstrated outcomes.
To simply say you make a difference will no longer cut the mustard. You need to show how you make that difference. And the more data you have to support your claims, the better.
Which leads us to…
A lot of nonprofits don't even bother to collect data, and those that do often don't use it in a way to help promote their organization's narrative or story.
The New Normal says it's not enough to tell prospective funders how many people walked through your doors last year. The New Normal wants to know, among other things, how your services improved the lives of these people, what are these people doing now and what impact does your work have on the community, at large.
The Age of the New Normal also forces us to address the different work styles of aging Boomers versus young Millennials, or those born between 1978 and the early 1990s.
If you want to get the most out of your workforce, your organization needs to learn the differences between these two generations and how to leverage their respective strengths through training, setting clear goals and expectations, providing meaningful feedback, creating a flexible work environment and rewarding employees for their efforts.
This isn't always easy. For example, where boomers prefer more "face time" and personal encounters in the workplace, Millennials are perfectly happy to communicate via email and other techno-based virtual methods, and want more flexibility to work from home.
For Boomers to tell Millennials that ,"But this is the way we've always done it" isn't going to make for a healthy workplace environment.
Similar to issues revolving around Boomers versus Millennials, we've entered a New Normal for volunteerism, as well.
Study's have shown that the majority of today's volunteers, regardless of whether they are young or old, are seeking meaningful volunteer experiences that take greater advantage of their skills, give them more responsibility and provide greater flexibility with respect to when they can volunteer.
Many are seeking more on-line volunteer opportunities. Some want to volunteer as a family unit, while still others say that they want the organization's to whom they give their time to get to know them better, especially, when it comes to being more sensitive to sex, culture, language and age differences.
Yikes! Given the pace of technological change, the Age of the New Normal is a rapidly moving target.
When I purchased my first fax machine in the mid 1980s, I thought it tolled the end of history as I had known it. Who could have foreseen the changes that were — and still are — to come.
Suffice it to say that at the very minimum, your organization should have a website that's easy to navigate, is updated regularly, and allows people to donate to your organization online.
If you haven't already, you should be looking into how best to use new social media, such as FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn as potential fundraising tools, yes, but more importantly to help build a community knowledgeable about and loyal to your organization.
And here's a final thought: If a Millennial comes to you with an idea about technology, or anything else for that matter, do not respond by saying, "But that's not the way we've done it in the past."
Yes, listening is part of the New Normal, as well.
As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.
In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry
Branding Bytes is a FREE quarterly e-newsletter courtesy of Larry Checco of Checco Communications. Please feel free to forward Branding Bytes on to others. However, Branding Bytes is copyrighted and may not be reprinted or reproduced without attributing Larry Checco of Checco Communications as its source and providing the following website address: www.checcocomm.net. Thank you.
To receive Branding Bytes email