• Colette Mandin

    Thank you for wading into this challenging conversation. In an Imagine Canada Sector Monitor report (Feb. 2012), one quarter of respondents reported they believe their organization is at risk. Demand for services continues to increase putting more organizations in distress. While ‘doing good’ can bolster your organization for a while, it is the relationships the organization forges that help keep it afloat.

  • Renee McGivern

    Thanks, Simone!

    Many nonprofit leaders will swear that they are doing well with all four of these. Yet, they could be operating in a county with two million residents and have only 1,000 individual donors. Or a town with 10,000 residents and only 60 donors. These often are the organizations who have relied heavily on government revenue streams, or new organizations who are failing to tell their new story.

    Too often, nonprofits are “engaged” with insiders; they’re talking and contributing among themselves. They spend little time or money on consistent communication strategies to draw in individual citizens to help solve that community’s problems with them. Unless a nonprofit’s cause is highly specialized, e.g. Celiac’s Disease research, the organization should literally count the number of individual donors they have and divide that by the number of households that are in the community, and then evaluate how well they’re really doing in relationship-building.

  • Michelle Nusum

    Well done! This critical issue is often under appreciated by boards and executive leadership. Colette and Renee, I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Saras

    Absolutely. I think your first point about the ‘internal relationship’ does not get enough weight. It reminds me of something we should do better with our High/Medium/Low performers. High performers in the organization often get the least attention and most work (because they’re doing what they should) while low performers often get the most coaching and face time with organizational leaders. Investing correctly in the right people can help increase the leadership pipeline and loyalty of your organization. Additionally, I think there is something to the changing landscape of social justice and nonprofits. As evidenced by the recently gone viral video of ‘Kony 2012’, there is a young generation of people who affect social change by the click of a button. This will be the ‘new normal’ as a younger generation takes over nonprofits. Organizations who know how to work with the changes that come with technology and sophisticated methods of advocacy will thrive in the years to come.

  • Simone Joyaux

    Glad that the column is resonating. I’ve been writing about this since my first book, Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, published in 1997. In March 2011, John Wiley & Sons published the third edition. I rant and rave – and speak calmly, too! – about all four relationships.

    I’m very interested in the internal relationship…what’s happening inside the organization. I describe things like values, participatory decision-making, conversation not discussion (that’s part of learning organization theory), systems thinking, and learning organization theory. I also talk about the art of leadership and the concept of fundraisers as organizational development specialists. To me, all this is part of the internal relationship.

    Read Strategic Fund Development, 3rd edition for lots and lots of information and examples.