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What nonprofits need to know to improve and streamline the experience for clients and staff

Sep 30, 2021

Delivering an exceptional experience for clients and the community is often at the center of a nonprofit’s mission and strategy, but there are a lot of often-overlooked factors that go into delivering an exceptional experience.

Today’s environment presents a lot of opportunities and challenges as organizations look to use new funding streams and ways to interact in order connect and serve increased populations in their communities. These factors often pose critical decisions for nonprofits as strategic plans are established:

  • How do we reach and serve more individuals given staff and resource constraints?
  • How do we adapt to changing demographics and environmental conditions (virtual vs. in person)?
  • What are the right technology tools to invest in to set ourselves up for future success?
  • How do we properly leverage data to streamline funding requirements and outcome reporting?
  • How can we share information and collaborate effectively within our organization while ensuring security and confidentially?
  • How can we present a more personalized, one-organization approach to clients needing multiple services and programs?

As Wipfli has worked with and trained thousands of organizations, we have focused on how to put a plan in place with our clients to address these critical areas and align to the overall strategy of the organization.

The focus of this strategy is on supporting and training staff, streamlining processes and enabling technology to be able to serve more, track outcomes and allow staff the ability to focus where it matters most: developing relationships and serving the community.

Often when evaluating how to tackle the client experience, nonprofits first go to just implementing a technology solution:

“We need a solution for virtual appointments.”

“We need chat functionality.”

“We need a case management solution.”

While all of these technology tools are useful and can be central to the future success of the organization, they don’t have near the impact in silos and often will lead to additional issues and frustrations if not aligned to a unified, organization-wide vision. That’s why it’s so important to define the future experiences for key personas (e.g., clients, staff, funders, etc.) and establish a strategic roadmap so that every decision made is in support of the long-term plan.

When thinking about the holistic experience and future strategy, there are several critical areas to consider:

Outreach: Who are you targeting, and how are you reaching out to them? Also consider program-specific versus organizational-wide outreach.

Intake: Consider centralized versus standard intake. Do you have one intake team? Who is staffing it? What information are you collecting, and is it consistent across programs and channels (web vs. phone vs. in person). How are you routing information to programs and external partners?

Onboarding: Do you have consistent processes for onboarding steps? Are you able to leverage previously captured information?

Support: Are you able to proactively reach out to clients already understanding their situation? Do your clients have consistent and personal experiences across your programs?

Reporting outcomes: How can you use the information being collected to inform strategic decisions? How can you reduce administrative burden on funder and outcome reporting?

This is a lot for an organization to address at once and why it’s important to develop a strategic roadmap. You want to be able to focus on the most pressing areas of need while keeping the future vision in mind.

Successful organizations can define a plan to collect feedback from key stakeholders, turn that feedback into organizational initiatives, execute on those initiatives, and improve and adapt over time.

It is easier said than done to put an effective strategy and approach in place, and it will always require focus and momentum from all levels of the organization.

As this strategy requires involvement from the entire organization, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or one single way to execute. It’s important to examine these key areas and establish a plan that will work for your organization.

Wipfli is deeply focused on supporting organizations to establish a strategy around client experience and has additional thought leadership and examples of organizations who have been successful on this journey. If you would like more information on how to start or would like to talk through your strategy and challenges, please reach out to us.

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Andrew J. Potasek
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