Building effective relationships matters


On either side of the Atlantic, the wisdom you get to build relationships with your donors is interesting to learn. This came  true when  Professor Ian Bruce, President, Center for Charity Effectiveness at London’s Cass Business School talked about the theory and practice of building effective relationships.

According to Prof. Bruce, successful relationship building has four components: establishing relationships, strengthening relationships, customer appreciation and relationship strategies. In American terms,  this  means relationship building, stewardship and ongoing donor communications.

You scan your environment to seek out the most influential people interested in your cause. Engage them well, pay close attention to their needs and consider them the most important people in your network. Prof. Bruce advises that you must be ready to talk about the negative things that are  happening at your organization and how you are trying to fix them. What are the pillars that need to be strengthened?

Often, most of us forget the common sense initiatives we need to take to build relationships. This includes reliability (deliver what you promised), responsiveness (give prompt service always), assurance (convey trust and confidence), empathy (a caring attitude), and  always make sure  that you provide the best tangible experience of your assets.

Sometimes, giving up top spots allotted to your  CEO or leadership to high value customers will help strengthen relationships. According to Prof. Bruce, this will help you build financial and social bonding with your high value customer.

His highly acclaimed book “Charity Marketing: Delivering Income, Campaigns and Services,” elaborates on the theory and practice of building effective nonprofit marketing strategies.

Why do Women Stay Away from STEM Careers? Poor Storytelling


As America struggles to find talent in technical careers, we’ve done a poor job of telling stories on why more women should take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.  At a recent panel discussion on the role of women in STEM careers, women said they felt a sense of isolation that grew from being underrepresented in technical careers.

STEM careers offered less social acceptance as they grew up. One panel member said that she had to purposely fail a math course to find acceptance in her social circles that had a distaste towards STEM careers. Another felt she always struggled to have a sense of acceptance among her peers.

Women are leading the jobs sector in multiple areas. But STEM fields are male dominated and less diverse. Why should a girl interested in robotics at high school face social stigma if she wants to become an engineer? Here are a few ways we can make systemic change:

  • Ask a professor in engineering to link dry equations and mechanical stuff to how  they really change the world.
  • Make simple changes in curriculum so that every science course adds a “make a difference” component. Value story telling.
  • Fathers have an important role in nurturing young girls to enter STEM careers.
  • Provide middle school students with diverse role models in STEM careers. Make sure that they are fun to relate to.
  • Add mentoring and value-added internships at the high school level. Give this opportunity to students from all public schools, not just students from prep schools and élite private schools.
  • Make sure that teachers teach science and math with passion. Unfortunately, our education system enjoys lengthy “common core standards.”  This drains teachers’ time in adapting to standards. Make sure that bureaucratic standards do not take away the joy and passion of learning math and science.