Six Ways Listening Can Improve Your Nonprofit Organization
When you carefully and sincerely listen to your clients, volunteers, and donors, you will improve your organization.
There's an old joke about a man who suspects his wife is losing her hearing. To test the hypothesis, he quietly enters the kitchen while his wife is preparing supper.
When he is about fifteen feet behind her, he asks, "Honey, what's for supper?"
He tip-toes forward and again asks, "Honey, what's for supper?"
No response. She doesn't even turn her head. The hypothesis seems to be valid.
To make certain, he creeps up to no more than one foot behind her and repeats, "Honey, what's for supper?"
This time, the wife turns around and says, "For the third time, we're having lasagna!"
Of course, this illustrates a failure to hear, not a failure to listen. It's an important distinction. When you carefully and sincerely listen to your clients, volunteers, and donors, you will improve your organization.
This list of the benefits of listening was taken from a Forbes article by Shep Hyken that appeared in April 2017. Entitled "Six Ways Listening Improves The Customer Experience," it has been adapted for nonprofit organizations.
1. Listening Gets You Feedback and Data
You're probably required to gather data about your clientele, but consider doing the same for your volunteers and donors. Having demographic snapshots of your volunteers and donors can assist you in identifying and recruiting more.
2. Listening Gets You Stories to Share
This Forbes article was intended for business managers, but stories of need and success are hugely effective (maybe even necessary) in prompting donations, calling volunteers to action, recruiting clientele, and motivating staff.
3. Listening Grows Customer Retention
Nonprofit organizations must retain donors, volunteers, and clients. Asking for and responding to feedback strengthens your nonprofit organization's relationships with all of these groups.
4. Listening Will Increase Customer Spending
Here again, a service provider is not interested in customer spending, but donating time and funding is critical to most nonprofit operations. Soliciting feedback will help your donors and volunteers feel heard and validated, which can lead to increased effort and donation.
5. Listening Creates Brand Ambassadors
The "brand ambassadors" of nonprofit service providers might be better described as "advocates" or "allies." Those who are satisfied with their experiences with your organization will actively recruit their friends and family members to your cause.
6. Listening Creates Employee Retention
Here Hyken implies the venerable old "suggestion box" really is an effective tool. He states, "Customer feedback is gold---and so is employee feedback. Listen to your employees' suggestions and ideas for improving (...) and act on the best suggestions."
How do you implement effective listening? Questionnaire kiosk technology like that offered by Pulse For Good is one way. Kiosks collect and manage feedback of all kinds from clients, volunteers, and employees. Kiosks are easy to use and efficiently organize and deliver the collected data. This includes demographic data; opinions and feelings; and anecdotal input such as free-form stories and personal experiences.
Kiosk technology can even process those suggestions to put a ping-pong table in the employee break room.