Managing relationships
Managing relationships

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Managing relationships

5 Different views under one roof

This concluding section considers a case study which raises a variety of issues about the role of fundraising and the dilemmas and problems that organisations involved in winning resources and support are likely to face in carrying out their role. These include:

  • Potential conflict between fundraising and other organisational roles.

  • Dealing with the fact that different stakeholders have different views and interests.

  • Deciding where the dividing line comes between sources of funding and support which are acceptable and those which are not.

  • The tension of balancing different demands on time, e.g. local vs. central needs.

It is likely that you will identify with many of the problems. You are encouraged to draw upon your own experiences. Use a separate piece of paper for each question.

Different views under one roof [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Activity 3

Timing: 0 hours 40 minutes

Having read the case study above, you should now answer the following questions.

  • To what extent is there a difference of interest between salaried and voluntary staff? What, in your experience, are the effects of any such difference and how can the difference be managed?

Discussion

One way of approaching these questions is to think back to our definition of stakeholders as ‘any person or group that has a legitimate interest in an organisation and what it does, and the capacity to affect it’. Consider the difference between a salaried member of staff like Winston the paid fundraiser in the case study, and volunteers like Brian Hillyer (who, you will recall, was making such a success of the shop) or Mary Clifford who is an energetic campaigner and good at attracting publicity.

As stakeholders, both paid and voluntary workers have the capacity to affect the success of the organisation by what they do. But they have different stakes in that success – on the one hand professional achievement and reward, on the other the satisfaction of doing something fulfilling as a volunteer spurred on by idealism alone. The effects of this difference in the case study appear to be potential conflict between at least one of the volunteers (Mary Clifford who is suspicious of the idea of employing a paid fundraiser) and Winston Kingsley who is, of course, the employee carrying out that role. It looks as if the conflict is set to flare up around Winston's initiative to launch a ‘corporate’ Friends organisation. The case study does not tell us about whether the charity pays the people who work directly with rough sleepers – but it is highly likely that it does. Mary probably does not feel the same about that as she does about paying the fundraiser.

How can issues like this be managed? Here are some ideas based on stakeholder thinking:

  • Instead of avoiding uncomfortable issues, spend time working through conflict.

  • Many organisations spend a lot of time explaining themselves to external stakeholders such as donors and the media, but leave internal stakeholders in the dark. Internal communications are essential to achieve a shared understanding between both paid and voluntary staff about the mission of the organisation and their roles in achieving it.

  • Both volunteers and paid employees need management and support. Formal job descriptions, performance management and training opportunities are equally relevant to both in maximising their capacity to contribute to the organisation's success.

Activity 4

  • What can an organisation offer a prospective donor, private or corporate, in return for the donation? Is it a good idea ‘to stand in the donor's shoes’? If it is, what are the implications?

Discussion

In thinking about these questions, the concept of ‘customers’ is useful. Remember that we are arguing in this course that all organisations have customers: ‘You offer them something they need, and they reciprocate with something of value to you – be it funding, time, attention, approval or opportunities’. What is it that a prospective donor, private or corporate, needs? No doubt different donors will have different requirements. But it is probably true that private (individual) donors have needs tied to supporting action which they believe in or which makes them feel better about the world. Corporate donors, on the other hand, are likely to have needs which include being seen to be good citizens – so publicity benefits will feature in ways which would be irrelevant to private donors. Standing in the donor's shoes is just another way of saying that it is important to understand what the customer needs in order to manage a successful relationship. If you are satisfying your customer by providing what they need, they are more likely to give you the sort of support you are looking for in the longer term.

The implications of ‘standing in the donor's shoes’ include the following:

  • Spending time and resources finding out about donor needs and sharing such information internally so it can be acted upon. Market research is one way of doing this.

  • Not treating your donors as if they are all the same, but developing approaches to fundraising which recognise that different groups of donors are likely to want different sorts of benefits from their relationship with you. Marketers call this process ‘market segmentation’.

  • Ensuring that people inside the organisation are aware of the effect of their internal relationships as customers and suppliers to each other. The more effective these are, the more successful the exchange relationships between the organisation and its external customers will be. ‘Standing in your colleague's shoes’ is as good an idea as ‘standing in the donor's shoes’.

Activity 5

  • What would you say was Marion's ‘real work’ as the chair of the local branch?

Discussion

The case study shows an organisation which has some worrying, but not untypical, tensions. One of the differences between non-profit organisations and those which are driven by the profit motive is that the objectives of the latter (a satisfactory return to shareholders) are comparatively simple. It is much more difficult for people in non-profit organisations to have a common view of what they are all trying to achieve. It is interesting, for example, that both Winston and Marion have very definite ideas of what their ‘real work’ is – which are probably not shared by their colleagues. The ‘real work’ that Marion needs to do as chair of the local branch is to establish a shared understanding amongst its members so that they can work effectively together. The temptation for her might be to get too close to the day-to-day operations (such as the shelter and the shop) for her to spend enough time doing this challenging and difficult job.

Steps she might consider taking in this regard include:

  • Consulting about and writing (or updating) a mission statement for the branch. Mission statements are a way of crystallising the purpose of an organisation in one or two sentences which can be used not only to communicate what it does to the outside world, but also to energise and co-ordinate internal stakeholders.

  • Drawing up a written ethics policy which would give Winston explicit guidelines on what kinds of corporate support could be accepted.

  • Insisting on, and enforcing, clear lines of accountability for external communications – to prevent the kind of confusion which Mary's letter to the press is likely to generate among external stakeholders.

This case study illustrates three perspectives in a small non-profit organisation. The questions you have worked through represent only some of the potential issues it throws up, but they are focused on the key themes in this course. The main message is the importance of thoughtful engagement with the mission and values of the organisation and the need to look at what you do from the perspectives of the main customers and stakeholders in the organisation – both internal and external.

The Case Study ‘Different Views under One Roof’ was written by Don Cooper, a Regional Manager in the OU Business School.

You can find further discussion of stakeholders and customers in a non-profit context in:

  • Creative Arts Marketing by Liz Hill, Catherine O'Sullivan and Terry O'Sullivan published by Butterworth Heinemann.

  • Marketing Management for Nonprofit Organisations by Adrian Sargeant published by Oxford University Press.

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