Netflix has been getting a lot of attention lately for some recent changes they are making. Just take a look at twitter for a small example of what people are thinking and saying. The nonprofit industry has some lessons to learn from their mistakes, which is why I take a moment to highlight this today.
As a consumer, I was relying on Netflix to fulfill what I saw as their mission – to provide me with programming, regardless of the channel I consumed it on. Sometimes, I wanted a DVD to take on the flight, sometimes I wanted to stream a TV series and sometimes I had to rent by mail because streaming was not an option for the program I wanted.
As a constituent, I rely on the nonprofits I am involved with to work towards fulfilling their mission, which I support. I do this in various channels as well. Sometimes, I will make an online gift, sometimes I will attend an event and sometimes I will volunteer in person.
What I don’t want, from Netflix or from the organizations I support, is for my interactions to be treated so siloed and independently that the left hand doesn’t seem to talk to the right hand. When it works well, it’s just a great experience. (If you’ve ever arrived to volunteer somewhere and been thanked for your recent donation, you know what I mean.) And it keeps me coming back and supporting them for years to come.
So what are some lessons we as the nonprofit community can learn from Netflix’s current challenges?
1. Make it as easy as possible for your organization to understand the full picture of how your constituents are supporting you. This takes a lot of work, but a database where employees can see all different kinds of interactions with your organization is key. Put those pieces of the puzzle together, so you get the full picture of your supporters.
2. Your internal structure (departments, programs, etc.) should not dictate a disparate experience for your supporters. Your donors, activists, etc. see you as one organization, working towards one mission. Help them feel that, even if you are in the midst of a budget battle or some other internal challenges.
3. Allow constituents to opt in or out of certain communication channels. Reach them where they are and how they want to be reached, it will make them happy campers.