Nowadays, there are many different types of business and nonprofits are a type whose numbers are increasing substantially and rapidly on a very consistent basis. In addition to businesses competing across the board, nonprofits are also vying for an increased amount of donations.
The hoops that nonprofits have to jump through
Gone are the days when nonprofit organizations could simply sit back and watch the money come pouring in. The people who own (and run) nonprofit organizations have had to become increasingly aggressive and increasingly competitive. They also have to continually come up with new ways to generate donations and a part of that is coming up with new ways to establish and build new relationships with potential donors. In that respect, their business practices and the way in which they approach other business people have a lot in common with B2B business owners.
What can B2B business owners learn from nonprofit owners?
The people who are involved with both types of businesses have at least one goal in common. They both are trying to connect with excited, passionate, loyal clients who will be inclined to return to them over and over again. They will also be inclined to tell other people about your business, brand, and offerings. The passionate element is basically assumed when it comes to nonprofit organizations. The reason for that is that people generally feel good about donating money to a cause. If they feel that it is helping someone else, it makes them feel good about themselves. It is a win-win situation. Of course, there are other lessons that B2B business owners can learn from nonprofit organizations as well.
- How to approach donors: Of course, nonprofit organizations go after people and businesses who (or what) are likely to donate money. In fact, the more money, the better. So, how does the business owner accomplish that? Well, first of all, just like it is with any business, the communication establishes with the donor must be precise and effective. The marketing communications can’t just be a one-off situation. As the business owner, you will have to make a good amount of effort for your communications to pay off. Just like it is with other businesses, the target audience has to be really appropriate for the business. Nonprofit organizations, just like all other businesses, must constantly be coming up with new, exciting, innovative ideas that attract the target audience (donors). One of the first (and possibly, most obvious) places to start is with social media. The appropriate social media channels should be chosen and that may be different for each business. It all depends on the needs and the nature of that particular business. Using social media channels has a lot of advantages. First of all, it is a wonderful to spread the word quickly and to a large number of people at once. Depending on specifically whom you are trying to reach, social media may be your absolute first avenue of communication. Pretty much, everyone (or, at least, almost everyone) has jumped on the social media bandwagon. You can leverage that for your business.
- Connecting with advocates (influencers): When it comes to people being willing to make a donation, a great deal of the motivation is from the approach that the nonprofit owner uses. It is a good idea to keep in mind that in a nonprofit situation, if you are looking for a donation, you certainly don’t want to spend money to make that happen. That is another really good reason to use social media. It won’t cost you anything (at least not in dollars and cents). However, it will require that you spend time and effort. When you think about it, all businesses have that same need. What you need to do is establish advocates for your brand. Brand advocates believe in what you are doing and in the idea that what you are offering will make someone else’s life better (whether that is personal or professional). They believe in you and in your capabilities. Interestingly (and totally true), you are the only one who cannot promote your capabilities (at least, not directly). You may be able to get away with doing that in a subtle manner but only other people can do it directly. You are the only one who will never appear credible in that regard.
- Always be honest: Nonprofits must be honest about their intentions. You should make it a policy to do the same. People will always know when you are not being honest and they certainly won’t appreciate it or respect you for it. You should always make a point of being above board and conduct your business in a manner just like you would like to be treated by other people. With the economy being as difficult as it is, the honest about what you can do and how you can do it is even more critical to your success than it ever was before. If your approach is honest and open, people will trust you and find you credible and you will be the one to turn to when they need what you are offering.
- Always be polite in your communications: There is no doubt that written communications sometimes don’t come out the way that the writer intended them to come out (or, perhaps, the intention was communicated correctly). However, it is extremely important that the tone in our communications is polite, sensitive, humorous (when appropriate), and, above all, human. If people can’t relate to what you are saying on a human level, you won’t be able to establish a connection that will endure. Find your voice and tell your story. Additionally, allow other people to tell their stories too. You can definitely benefit a great deal from hearing what they have to say. If you empower them, they will allow themselves to learn from your experience and from your expertise.
There are many lessons that a B2B owner can learn from a nonprofit. The first thing is to be able to recognize the elements that can be valuable and then to be able to emulate those elements. Why reinvent the wheel if it isn’t necessary. It has been said that a smart person learns from his or her mistakes but a wise person learns from other people’s mistakes. You should definitely subscribe to that philosophy.