Six tips for working with non-profits 

One of the biggest challenges any company can encounter is that of working with a non-commercial organization, where, working in collaboration, there is a need to achieve each established goal with only a reduced budget at hand, and one that is generally smaller than necessary.

That said, the challenge doesn’t necessarily make the feat impossible.

So, what’s the secret to accomplishing those goals?

The answer lies in a large dose of organisation, optimisation, the ability to listen and an open mind.

In this post, we’re mostly talking about joint projects with real, non-profit associations whose activities are carried out on a non-profit basis, which makes them decidedly different to the classic companies with whom we often work.

While it’s true that there can and will be many obstacles to encounter, achieving your goals by finding the right solutions while overcoming any hitches along the way will provide you with immense satisfaction.

Over the years, we have often found ourselves in these kinds of situations, and, each time, we’ve always managed to find a balance while still addressing every request – big or small. Sometimes, we’ve made mistakes along the way, but it’s all a part of the learning process, isn’t it? Falling down and getting back up again!

So, with that in mind, we’ve decided to share five good tips with you along with a bonus one to ensure you’re really collaborating effectively with any association.

1. Be precise when identifying goals

We can’t be clearer on this one!

The first piece of advice is built on the importance of identifying common goals before any work starts. Both parties – the company and the association – should always agree on what they want to achieve together, how they intend to do it and what the deadlines will be.

Defining these points from the beginning will not only ensure everyone is always aligned with the same goals, but will also ensure that time and money are not wasted on any goals that stray from them.

2. Communicate clearly and listen carefully

Communication, as we all know, lies at the heart of every relationship – even professional ones. Yet, it is often underestimated, as is the skill of attentive listening.

When it comes to success, it’s essential that we communicate any goals and expectations we have of a collaboration, clearly agreeing on the resources at our disposal, listening to all people and acknowledging all opinions and doubts.

It’s only through these actions that we can create a complete picture and be in a position to define the things that we can and cannot do (at least not for the moment).

3. Respect the association’s autonomy

Always keep in mind that associations are autonomous organisations, each with its own specific goals and values and deeply entrenched ways of working, to which each member is very accustomed. One of the worst things you could do, in these cases, is try imposing decisions, ideas and new methods.

No one is a fan of imposition, no matter what environment they’re in.

And so, tip number two becomes relevant again. Listen while you acknowledge the members’ working approach, and if you happen to think that a new method could make their work more efficient or reduce timeframes, share it in the light of a possibility of change by demonstrating the pros and cons, and allowing each member to physically observe what it is that you’re proposing.

Ask yourself whether they have the skills needed, about the obstacles they might encounter and what other factors might lead them to say no. Try finding an answer and a solution to each question before presenting, and remember, never ever try forcing anyone.

4. Involve the members of the association

Ah, healthy collaboration!

Involving members is critical to the success of the work in the long term.

It will allow you to collaborate on the change underway without ever feeling like you’ve been left behind. Furthermore, it will allow you to discover the skills of each of them, and give you the chance to get to know them as real colleagues.

5. Always evaluate every path and every goal achieved

“Evaluate” and “monitor” should be the two verbs to always keep in mind.

Constantly evaluating the collaboration can help ensure both parties remain in sync, not only when it comes to the objectives (there’s point one again!) but also when it comes to facing each problem or future challenge in an effective way.

And the bonus tip?

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten!

Our bonus tip is to never forget that associations – being non-profit activities – have very specific budgets to respect which are often indicative of the size of the organisation: generally the smaller the association, the more likely there is risk of the budget being reduced.

Yet, even with more limited resources at our disposal, it’s still often necessary to achieve big goals.

So how can that be done?

The trick, even if it’s not entirely magical, lies in being able to consider that every possible solution and every alternate path can lead to the same goal.

And trust us, there are always alternate solutions and paths!

Just keep an open mind!

AIGeDO: a perfect case study in point

Most of the time case studies help in getting away from theory, and into the reality of the facts.

So with that in mind, we thought we’d briefly share some of the important points that arose from our experience with AIGeDO (the Italian Association of Gnathology).

We’ve been collaborating with them since 2016, and when we first met with them, they were just one of the many non-digitised associations that exist.

In this regard, we would like to add a piece of advice that comes directly from our experience; every change takes time.

In our case, it took five years to reach the digitization point in which AIGeDo now finds itself.

This was achieved slowly - brick by brick - without ever forcing or shifting the focus to things that were of no interest to them, and always against a backdrop of constant listening and advising.

It may seem like a consultancy job to you (and sometimes it really can be), but, when all is said and done, we have to remember that that too is often the sign of good teamwork and collaboration.

What have we done with them over the years?

We have created customised software, tailored to their specific needs, for the management of registrations which has immensely reduced the amount of time needed compared to when each registration was entered manually.

We created a website, social networks and newsletters. We researched which graphic mood would best represent them, developed the Tone of Voice and the accompanying strategies, while continuing to manage all the active channels from year to year.

There were numerous hitches, as is always the case in any job, ranging from the budget to the challenge faced by the change of presidency the association undergoes every two years (can you imagine collaborating with a company that changes management so frequently?)

Yet, together, we have reached every pre-set point, and, even now, continue to do so.

In any case, collaborating remains the key to every single thing!

We made it simple

Let's talk about it!

Roma | Catania | Torino | Piacenza
[email protected]

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