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.

Rockstar Entrepreneur: Nathan J. Reis, Entrust Bankcard

At first sight, Nathan J. Reis is not your typical CEO type. Wearing a black Steve Job’s T-Shirt (Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish), you wouldn’t think that this small-town boy from Wisconsin would hit it big in dry, arid Arizona.

But Reis is a wildly successful “big growth” Arizona entrepreneur. He candidly told his story at a business seminar jointly organized by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Mesa Community Colleges. He began with three failures and then talked about starting Entrust Bankcard as a bootstrap initiative. Entrust provides merchant processing products and services and  is now Inc. 500’s 18th fastest growing company in the nation. As the company grew, Nate realized he “didn’t have the vocabulary to explain to employees about this fast growth in business.”

The supersized growth came with trade-offs. “If you wait to grow your business, put all the NO’s up on the wall.”Entrepreneurs must decide “what you don’t do.”

He credits the growth of his company to the work culture that he has created. Well, what is culture in a business? Is it reverence ? Is it conformity? To Nate, culture is being as “loud and noisy as possible.” “People will tell you to keep your head down.”

According to Nate,  extreme success happens when we  create a for-profit approach to a social problem. And, he is aiming for the sky. He wants to grow Entrust 50% year on year and increase his customer base to 250,000 small businesses. He believes in CRM software and the future of cloud technology. At the same time, he has started preparing for where he will be in two years.