Trendy business media has trumped relationship building as one of the keys to success. While the value of relationship building is obvious, the topic has been endorsed almost to the point of confusion. Some of the gimmicky information gives cause for doubt. If you are managing a nonprofit, you may wonder how you can possibly manage operations and have time to build pivotal relationships. Obviously, there are no quick or steadfast answers but some of your answer may be realized in the operations of your organization.
Things to Consider
Almost everyone will concede that no organization can be successful in a vacuum. For nonprofits, relationship building can be useful when leveraging client services. You and your staff possess intellectual capital. You are the resident experts and have firsthand knowledge of your operations, your clients, their needs, the services you offer and the service gaps.
Additionally, you have a vision of what you could do with more funding. You know where relationships can be logically developed to fulfill that vision. One of the first questions should be, “where are complimentary services available and how can a feasible relationship be built?” Here is where relationships with other practitioners can be useful.
Pause for a moment and think about your clients and your organization. Drill down your analysis to three topic areas; your clients, your donors and other service providers. There is a good probability that your clients are receiving services from other providers. Equally probable, is that your donors are supporting other service providers. It is also probable that your operational challenges are also tackled by other organizations. A good relationship may set the stage for information and resource swapping and development.
Leverage your experience
You may find it useful to join a nonprofit council or professional association and/or volunteer for a community board. The experience you bring will be useful in the new arena and the contacts and friendships you make can become long-term and have multiple, mutual benefits. Community involvement, participation and volunteerism are all opportunities for you and your contacts to share insight, learnings, and viable solutions.
There is no need to feel stuck or isolated. The path to a solution can be shortened by your colleagues. There are plenty of willing, knowledge professionals and combined resources that you can harness for mutual support. Your new contacts are probably a phone call and/or a cup of coffee way. Take heed, your answers are right around the corner.
Good luck and best wishes,
Believe in possibilities and in yourself!