How L.L. Bean compassion can inspire nonprofits

in Associations - Membership,Cultivation & Stewardship,Marketing for Nonprofits

Nonprofits are all about compassion.  Right?  You care about the people you serve.  But do your supporters feel just as much compassion?  They ought to. 

When donors call . . . or when members send you an email do they receive compassionate service?  In every communication and contact with them do they come away with a strong feeling that you care about them?  That you care about the person as opposed to thinking of them as a source of revenue.

An article I read on Entrepreneur.com triggered my thoughts about this issue.  Their article, “Is Your Customer Service Compassionate” mentioned that 98-year-old L.L. Bean won the Customer’s Choice Awards.   Not Zappos.com or Amazon.com, but L.L. Bean for the last 3 out of 5 years.  And just to be clear, customers are the people stating who the best customer-service companies are.

That’s significant when your customers vote for you! 

How confident are you?  If all the donors in the U.S. voted for the charity that makes them feel important; that listens the best; that is great at acknowledging gifts; that gives a variety of EASY ways to share their opinions and ideas with the charity and their own peers; that consistently writes donor-centric copy; that keeps them informed with success stories so donors see how they’re making a difference; that when they reach out to you, they can quickly be in contact with a friendly person (not a recording; or cold on-line form); that makes each communication feel personal and genuine …. if they voted would your charity win? 

The same holds true for professional associations.  If the members of associations voted for the one with the best member-service, would you win?

The Entrepreneur.com article states that L.L. Bean’s philosophy of customer service is: Treat customers like human beings.

What a profound concept.

L.L. Bean Chairman Leon Gorman says: “A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity.”

There’s a wealth of wisdom in that sentence.  “Ongoing, never-ending…”  Also “…compassionate kind of activity.” 

Showing your gratitude and feeling grateful to your supporters is a mindset.  It ought to be so deeply engrained in your nonprofit that it becomes a subconscious way of thinking for everyone.  It’s automatically part of everything you do every day, all day long. 

Regardless of your budget . . . regardless of how big you are . . . you and your staff can have this philosophy.  You can win the vote for the nonprofit that’s most compassionate toward the people who make it all possible: Donors, members, and volunteers.