Wednesday morning I had coffee with Sarah Willcox from the N.Center for Nonprofits. I left our meeting feeling refreshed, inspired and encouraged to continue our search for how we can help nonprofits. Here’s 3 things that every nonprofit and business can learn from “the Center”.
1. Be Willing to Change
It’s been two years since I’ve met with anyone from the Center. If there’s one thing that is evident it’s that there has been change. Good, fruitful change that’s making a difference and effecting everything from morale to retention rates (the lifeblood of any subscription based product or service). One change they made was to reengineer their organizational structure. It sounds like team members were given the opportunity to revisit their strengths, passions and desires to serve the Center. Titles were changed, responsibilities were shifted and the result was more defined roles that built paths for staff to set personal goals and achieve success in their position. Surely not every organization has the flexibility or audacity to perform such a challenge, but perhaps whatever wall is preventing you from at least exploring this idea should be removed.
2. Remember Why You Exist
Here’s the bottom line for the N.C. Center for Nonprofits. It lies in their name. It’s not the word “North Carolina”. It’s not “Center” and it’s not even “Nonprofits”. The most important word in their organization’s name is “for”. Perhaps you didn’t notice it in the logo above or each time I’ve written it, but this word is italicized on purpose. It’s important. The Center exists for Nonprofits. They’re really getting back to their roots and recalling that they exist for Nonprofits. So what have they done? They’ve picked up the phone to talk to them. They now call every new member and every single member that renews each year. They talk to them about their needs, their struggles and sometimes just to shoot the breeze. Sure it takes some time, but they’ve seen a 10% increase in member renewals. That’s HUGE. Remember why you exist. It’s probably to help people, right? Well be human about the way you help them.
3. Serve With a Glad Heart
It is evident that Sarah and the rest of the team at The Center have a renewed sense of why and who the serve. She shared with me some fascinating statistics about the nonprofit sector in North Carolina. Would you have guessed that nonprofits provide more than 400,000 jobs in North Carolina? That’s 10% of the workforce. Crazy. Anyway, my point is that I felt a sense of joy coming from Sarah in the work that she does. She serves (nonprofits as it were) with happiness! The most inspiring organizations are often the ones whose team’s sacrificial serving shows through. If someone on your team is not serving with gladness of heart then perhaps they have a different passion that needs to be fueled.
Perhaps you’ve learned some things yourself from the Center or have some other reminders for nonprofits. I hope you’ll share in the comments below.