The Good China

Once you use your plates every day, they cease to be the good china.

Of course, the plates didn’t change. Your story did. The way you treat them did.

The same goes for the red carpet. If you roll it out for every visitor or every customer, it ceases to be red.

Seth Godin, best-selling author, entrepreneur, and teacher

In any nonprofit environment, we’re constantly striving to nurture and maintain our relationships with those who invest in our work—individual donors, corporate sponsors, foundation grant makers. But just as your finest dinnerware loses its novelty when used daily, the “red carpet” treatment can lose its impact if it becomes the norm rather than the exception. However, the challenge here lies in consistently delivering on your mission yet simultaneously surprising your stakeholders with moments of delight and acknowledgment. Here are some tips on creating a “wow” experience that keeps your funders engaged and invested even in the in-between times like summer.

Quality over Quantity 

The first step is understanding that it’s not about providing constant “wow” moments but about their strategic placement and quality. It’s akin to planning a journey; while the route and scenery are essential, it’s the unexpected, beautiful vista or surprising detour that leaves the most vivid memory. So how do we create these moments?

Timely Recognition

Timeliness is key when delivering exceptional experiences. Roll out the red carpet when your funders least expect it. This could be during a milestone of their involvement with your organization or in recognition of an achievement on their part outside of your nonprofit. In this way, you demonstrate that you value their contribution and them as individuals. They become more than just an ATM. 

Personalization is Key

Understand what each stakeholder values, and tailor your “red carpet” to that. For instance, some donors might appreciate public recognition, while others might prefer a private thank you note or a personalized update on the impact of their contribution. This personal touch shows you understand their individuality and respect their preferences, thereby strengthening their emotional connection with your organization

The Element of Surprise

There is something about the unexpected that heightens the sense of wonder and appreciation. Surprising your stakeholders with an unexpected token of appreciation or a unique event can leave a lasting impact. It need not be extravagant. A handwritten note of thanks, a unique piece of artwork from a beneficiary, an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, or an invitation to a small gathering of like-minded individuals could all be great surprises that charm and retain your supporters.

Building Anticipation

If doing an event, remember that the buildup can be as important as the event itself. Providing hints of what’s to come, sharing updates on preparations, or even inviting stakeholders to be a part of the process can enhance the experience, making it an anticipated, exciting deviation from the norm.

Consistent Value, Sporadic “Wow”

The goal is to provide consistent value to all stakeholders, meeting and exceeding their expectations in line with your mission and resources. Sprinkle in those “wow” moments along the journey to keep the relationship fresh, exciting, and appreciated. This way, the red carpet retains its vibrancy, its allure, and its power to create moments of delight and connection that keep stakeholders coming back for more.

Remember, the good china isn’t only good because it’s rarely used. It’s good because when it is used, it signifies something special. The same goes for your red carpet experience – it’s not just the frequency, but the meaning, personalization, and surprise that make it a truly exceptional experience.

Hat tip to your success,

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