Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nonprofits should give without trying to get

Nonprofits can learn from marketing guru Seth Godin's father who has been a successful manager and entrepreneur and he's always given without expecting in return.

In a recent blog post Godin notes that most companies and marketers give in order to get. The same can be said for nonprofits.

But I think nonprofits should give without expecting to get. In fact when I started Evergreen Leaders in 2003 I wanted the organization to adopt a policy of giving 10% of it's income away.

The attorney helping us to apply for our 501c3 was dubious that the IRS would approve such a plan. Our by-laws state clearly that we practice giving away 10% as a way of showing gratitude to God our Creator who we believe provides all we need. We also have a clause that says we'll give the money only to other 501c3s.

The IRS approved our 501c3 application.

Last fall I delivered a check to a charity for their capital campaign that the EGL board decided to give to. No organization that we have given to had ever used our services but it turns out that the organization had lost their campaign consultant in the middle of the campaign. They contracted with EGL to serve as their consultant for the remainder of the campaign.

Did we give to them to get?

No, we gave because we are grateful for a generous God.

As Seth concludes in his post, "Now, more than ever, it's easier to give even when it seems like you're not going to get. The happy irony is that this turns out to be a very effective marketing approach, even though that's not the point."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hire athletes

This issue of Sales Caffeine caught my attention because my two daughters and a son were college athletes--track and cross country, volleyball abd basketball.

Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer walked around his office and asked each person if they ever played sports on a team or competitively. He was surprised to discover "that the people who had played sports were among my best employees."

"If you’re an employer," suggests Gitomer, "you may want to look past job experience, and read deeper into athletic experience. It will give you greater insight as to the life skills of a person, not just their job skills." Check out why athletes make better employees.

The joy of teaching

Last Monday night I taught a one hour course on blogs at our local library. What fun. Three people came to the event. My wife came, not because she has much of an interest in blogs, but she was being nice to me. I like nice.

The other students were a retired couple who knew nothing about blogs other than the term. They were eager students and by the end of the hour they headed home with plans to create a blog this weekend.

Have a passion? Volunteer to teach it at your local library.

There's something deeply satisfying about teaching eager students.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

How a patient changed a hospital policy

In December I did a post about an experience with a nonprofit hospital that had my wife and me furious.

When the hospital, whose slogan is "We care for you", tried to enforce a policy that required Sarah to go home rather than to stay the night with me, I called the administrator at home at 10:20 p.m. and said that if the hospital enforced the policy it would be the last time I used the hospital. The administrator worked the magic that top administrators can do. Sarah stayed the night.

A week later I was back in the hospital with pneumonia. One night I asked if my daughter, a nurse also, could stay the night with me. The CNA that I made the request to said, "I don't know. They're really screwy about such things." When she came back to let me know she could stay she let me know that I "sure was lucky."

I was glad that she made that comment, implying that I was lucky to have the power to pull strings because it helped me ask the question: "Do I want this hospital to be a good for me and my family or good for all patients and families?

After the two hospital stays I began lobbying the administrator by e-mail to change the policy. I knew that both my family physician and surgeon had lobbied him. My family doc encouraged me (and my family) to take it to the hospital board, but I wanted to work first with the administrator.

We exchanged a series of e-mails and he promised to work on it. Then I received this e-mail recently:

Just wanted to let you know that the policy re: visitors staying overnight has been formally modified. In short, a visitor/family member/significant other may stay overnight with a patient upon request as long as it does not impede with routine nursing care or contradict physicians order. Due to space limitations, we need to limit the overnight policy to one person at a time in the room but it is rare that more than one person requests the accommodation.

Again, thanks for bringing this to our attention.

I am proud to use the Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, IL as my hospital and am grateful for the leadership of Steve Hayes. With a little help from their patients, they really do care for you.