How to play nice with nonprofits

Working with nonprofits offers particular challenges and rewards. At Minerva Strategies, we specialize in collaborating with nonprofits and we partner with other like-minded communication experts who also want to serve the sector. We talked with John Chimmy, Partner and Director of Sales at one of our web development partners, Eat.Sleep.Work (ESW), to find out his thoughts on working with the nonprofit sector.

 

Minerva: What do you like about working with nonprofit organizations?

ESW: Nonprofits are fun to partner with. We know what we develop with them, be it a website, print campaign, or a visual identity, is going to make a difference. This work makes the world a better place. And on top of that, the people at these orgs are passionate about what they do. This is contagious, and it motivates our team to do their very best work.

 

Minerva: What is one of the challenges of working with nonprofits?

ESW: Nonprofits tend to be inclusive places that value participation. This is great for employee morale and a variety of other reason, but it makes streamlined decision-making difficult. What can happen is that we present our ideas to the web-development committee, for example, and they love the design and tell us to move ahead with the work. We’re excited and think everything is going great.  Then down the line, we present to the organization’s leadership, and they want something totally different.

 

To avoid this pitfall, we make sure we know who the final decision-makers are, and get their input at key stages. The ideal situation is that a committee member designates him or herself as the leadership manager and makes sure every decision made in committee has the leadership’s buy in.

 

Minerva: Any other challenges?

ESW: We can’t talk about nonprofit challenges without addressing the lack of resources, be they time, people, or funding. We love to work with nonprofits, but being creative is our intellectual property that sometimes can be taken for granted and should be respected like any other profession. We’re more than happy to work within a client’s budget and we do our best to make our services affordable because we love to partner on interesting and life-changing projects. Sometimes that means breaking projects into multiple phases or stripping projects down to achieve the most necessary requirements.

 

Timelines can also be challenging. Nonprofits have serious time constraints and people within the organization are often wearing multiple hats. Putting together a timeline is important, but being flexible and being ok with delays is a must.

 

What can nonprofits do to be a better partner with for profit service providers like you?

Actually, we don’t think that nonprofits should change their model or the way they work. They’re doing the best they can with some of the world’s most difficult challenges and the resources they have. We only ask that they communicate with us and let us take the time to get to know the organization, its personality, and what is most important for them.  As long as we have open and honest lines of communication, we can navigate things like missed deadlines and budget concerns.

 

Note: ESW is the team that developed our beautiful new website. Let us know if you are interested in working with them to improve your web presence!