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You’ve Got a Mission to Sell!

January 20, 2015

Mission-HeartBy Becky Lunders, teamWorks

Those of you who have experienced my trainings know that I firmly believe that nonprofit work is a business… with a heart. That means running your operation like a business which requires strategic planning, accountability, training and sales. Did she just say SALES? Yes, you are in the BUSINESS of SELLING YOUR MISSION.

Think about the brands to which you are most loyal. Those companies you keep coming back to because of the quality, the experience and/or the relationship you have with them. Now apply that same way of thinking to your work in the nonprofit sector.

Quality. We come back to brands that produce quality products. We feel there is value to what we are buying. For the nonprofit sector, that’s the volunteer experience. If you create a quality experience for volunteers, they will keep coming back. But how do you get that customer (volunteer) in the first place? Some wait (and wait and wait and wait!) for them to walk through the door. Once in a blue moon, that happens. But more often than not, you’ve got to go out and find them. Offer up the opportunity to get involved and “sell” the mission. It takes a salesperson’s determination to seek out and recruit highly skilled, leadership volunteers. Don’t be shy. Look at what roles you need to fill and make a plan to get out in the community and connect with people. Let them know how they can help achieve the mission of your organization.

Experience. In the retail world, we tend to return to those retailers that provide a good experience. We don’t mind spending our money with them because the experience is pleasant. And we tell our friends about it, ultimately becoming marketers for our favorite brands. Nonprofit work is no different. Whether it’s an event or a committee meeting, volunteers come back if it’s a good experience. You can increase the chances if you involve volunteers in the planning (think leadership volunteers!). Volunteers tend to know what other volunteers find appealing. Ensure you provide education, information and a testimonial so they can feel the mission in action. This enhances the experience. Lastly, commit to making any volunteer experience a good use of their time. Start and end committee meetings on time. Show your appreciation for their commitment. Remind them of the difference they are making.

Relationship. Good salespeople create a quality experience for their customers. Great salespeople build a relationship with their customers. The one thing that will take you from good to great in the nonprofit world is your ability to build relationships. Volunteer managers who genuinely care about their volunteers and become vested in their story are the most successful. If people believe in what you’re selling (your mission) and they feel good about their experience (how they’re being utilized), they tend to come back. We know if takes a lot of work to recruit a new volunteer. Those who take the time and energy to build relationships don’t have to always be in recruitment mode. They are able to retain their volunteers. And with that comes increased commitment to the organization which translates into time, talent and money. What are you waiting for? You’ve got a mission to sell!

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