Nonprofit Customer Service | .org Text

Why Customer Service Is Important For Nonprofits

Ken MuellerGuest Poster: Ken Mueller

It is my pleasure to introduce Ken Mueller, owner of Inkling Media, a social media, marketing and communications consultancy based in Lancaster, PA. Inkling Media offers a personal, hands-on approach that gives you the education and tools necessary to create and manage a successful Internet marketing program.


Customer service isn’t just for businesses. Believe it or not, it’s just as important for nonprofits to make sure they are providing good customer service to the people they serve, as it is for a small or large business.

The problem is that nonprofits tend to take their identities very seriously and are loathe to adopt some of the industry terms that are used in the business world. The nonprofit world was slow to talk about things like marketing, and branding is a concept most are finally embracing. Even ROI is making headway.

Nonprofit Customer Service | .org TextFor the most part this is because nonprofits view themselves very differently than businesses, and try too hard to avoid looking like a business. But the concept of customer service is still foreign to many nonprofits. After all, many really don’t have customers per se. They don’t offer a “product” in the traditional sense, and more often than not, no one is buying anything from them.

But the concept of customer service is incredibly important for nonprofits, as they are often dealing with not one, but two or three different constituencies.

  • Your clients and prospective clients are your customers – If you are a nonprofit that provides some sort of service, even if that service is 100% subsidized and no money changes hands, you need to treat them as if they were paying customers of a for-profit business. You want them to come back and tell others to visit.
  • Your donors are your customers – Nonprofits rely on the generosity of individuals to give financially, as well as sometimes donate specific items or goods. Like any business with customers, you want to attract both new donors and repeat/regular donors. You want them to continue giving and encourage others to give.
  • Your volunteers are customers – While they might not be giving their money, they are giving their time, and as a result, they need to receive some of the same treatment that is reserved for employees as well as customers. You want them to continue to volunteer and get others to also give of their time.

With all of these, you need to make them feel valued and appreciated. Whether they are giving or receiving, treat them with respect. Respond to phone calls and correspondence promptly. Be quick to troubleshoot problems and respond to negative comments online.

Use your online social presence to provide great customer service to all these constituents, as all of them might be connecting with you there.

Marketing’s greatest tool is word of mouth, and social media is predicated upon word of mouth. Happy clients/donors/volunteers will spread the word for you, and if they do so online, you’ll benefit from an increase in new clients/donors/volunteers.

And don’t forget the one aspect of your nonprofit that is tailor made for social media and word of mouth: your story.

Every one of your clients/donors/volunteers is a part of your story, and what makes you who you are. Include them in the story that you tell both online and offline. By recognizing them as a part of your story, and not just peripheral to your story, you are placing a greater importance on their role in what you do.

Try it. Think of these different groups of individuals as customers; people who have the ability to tell your story to others. But how you treat them will dictate the form that story takes.

Whether it’s the connection that your story creates or the personal touches you deliver to your stakeholders, if your nonprofit organization embraces great customer service, it will realize tangible results.
Guest Post Disclaimer: Guest Posts on the Customers That Stick blog are submitted by individual guest posters and in no way represent the opinions or endorsement of CTS Service Solutions, its owners or employees. CTS Service Solutions does not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of statements or facts posted by Guest Posters on this blog.


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