Hey Mom, non-profits can have cavities too!

Last Monday, I made that dreaded trip to see the dentist. I am proud to say I have no cavities; however, I need to apparently stop biting my cheeks and grinding my teeth. While I am proud of my oral hygiene, the big news is that my dentist has gotten very good at stewarding his clients.

Right about now, I suspect that many of you are blinking at the screen and thinking something like: “Huh? A for-profit dentist is stewarding his clients like a non-profit organization stewards its donors? Whatcha talking about, Erik!”

This is what I am talking about:

  • A few weeks before my appointment  I received a newsletter in my mailbox from the dentist. Of course, the newsletter contained some articles about dental services he provides. However, there was also interesting reading about the growing body of research between dental hygiene and heart disease as well as oral cancers and HPV. I walked away from that newsletter feeling better about my semi-annual investment in my mouth. Ah-ha . . . STEWARDSHIP!
  • By the time I got home from my dentist appointment, there were already two emails sitting in my inbox from my dentist. The first email thanked me for visiting and asked me to take an online survey. The rationale was that he values my business and wants to continue providing high quality service. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but . . . ah-ha . . . STEWARDSHIP!
  • The second email invited me to join his “online community” where members are able to: receive email appointment reminders; request appointments online; receive special announcements; write a review; refer a friend; watch a YouTube video of him talking about the overall health-ROI associated with investing in your mouth. I was directed to his website. I was directed to his Facebook page. I was directed to his Twitter account.  OMG . . . this isn’t just STEWARDSHIP, but it was electronic stewardship (ala ePhilanthropy for non-profits).

Back in the old days, dentists used to clean your teeth and you wouldn’t hear from them again for another 6-months when someone called to remind you about your upcoming appointment. This got me thinking about the number of non-profit agencies out there who take a donor’s charitable contribution, fire out a generic computer  generated recognition letter, and then do nothing until it is time to ask for the next gift.

Hmmmm . . . if my dentist can evolve, then so can many of those non-profit organizations who are still engaging in “transactional fundraising”.

What is your agency doing to enhance the “donor experience” and improve stewardship efforts? Have you ever considered sending donors a survey immediately after their solicitation to ask about the quality of their solicitation experience? Think about it for a moment . . . it starts to sound less and less silly the more you ponder it. Are you keeping your eyes open for how other non-profits and for-profits are changing the way they steward their donors and clients? What are you seeing?

Please use the comment box below and weigh-in with a your thoughts and observations. It doesn’t have to be a long comment . . . 30 seconds will suffice. We can all learn from each other.

Here is to your health (both non-profit health and dental health)!!!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


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