On The Podcast | Ep. 8 Respectfully Engage Clients ServedMar 17, 2023
The people who benefit from your programs, your clients, can offer powerful testimonials and experiences, but they should never be put on display or tokenized. Your clients deserve dignity as they are working with your organization. The role clients play in cultivation should not interfere with any programming that the clients are engaging.
Here are two scenarios. Let's say that you work for a literacy organization that helps low income adults learn how to read. The first option is that you can bring a donor in to observe a class where clients are learning about matching the sounds of spoken language with individual letters or groups of letters in the alphabet.
The prospect is going to be watching the class participants while the class participants are watching the teacher. This can get weird and you don't want your clients on display. They just deserve better. Here's a second better option. The prospect comes in and reads with an adult learner for an hour. They become part of their program instead of an observer over in the corner or even a distraction.
The same is true with a soup kitchen. I feel like the soup kitchens have really figured out how engagement works. Instead of having the prospect watch dinner being served, or watch clients eating dinner, have them busing tables or serving food, if they're coming in to see a program, it's better if they're involved.
It's a more impactful experience for the prospect, and the client is respected as well, and that is paramount. If you're a youth development organization and the kids are putting on a play, you can easily sneak some prospects into the audience that's already full of adults and parents. Another example is if you're raising money for new athletic equipment for a university, you can take a couple athletes and your prospect to lunch at the school cafeteria.
They can talk about the current gym equipment and how amazing it would be to have new gear. Here's another way you could engage clients and their families. If you work for a children's hospital, you could have the parent of a pediatric patient talk about their family's experience at a small cultivation event.
As you can see, there are lots and lots of ways to respectfully engage your clients, but engage them nonetheless with donors. I was working with a client, a domestic abuse shelter in New York, and we were brainstorming ways to connect prospects with survivors who were living at the shelter. These clients, they were scared their lives and their children's lives were in complete limbo, and they had just made the choice to get out of an abusive relationship, which is a big deal. These clients needed protection not to be put on display when they were at their most vulnerable place. We asked the clients to write down what the shelter meant to them and let them know that these would be shared with prospects who support the shelter.
There was no pressure. And of course, clients could opt out if they wanted to, but nobody opted out. Over the next couple days, we began to receive amazing letters. These, letters were just incredible. We thought they might be two or three sentences. No. These were pages of heartfelt emotion, and they were filled with both gratitude and heartbreak.
Many of the kids who were in the shelter even drew pictures. This was helpful for cultivation and inspiring gifts, but the survivors started telling us how cathartic and freeing the process was that they could write down all the things that were hard to say out loud. The big takeaway is don't put your clients on display when you're engaging donors, and there are two ways you can do that.
First, you can embed prospects into your programming, which is a much better option than just having them observe. Secondly, if you work for an on organization that requires client privacy. Find another solution to connect your clients to your prospects that are respectful.