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Nonprofit Wednesday Whimsy

The program vs. the product

Last week I wrote how nonprofits seeking contributions might learn from the prospectus format used by businesses to attract financial investment.   Here is another comparison that may offer useful pondering.

It’s 2 pm on Saturday and a woman stretched to the limit is washing diapers. The machine breaks down. Thankfully, she finds the call number and gets the instructions she needs to reset the digital controls. What would she have done if it were 2 pm and the content of her last counseling session stopped working for her?  Oops, no weekend number.  

Products come with instructions and a number to call. Social and human services, by and large, do not.   Products (to include services as well as goods) also have a warranty.  If we use the lawnmower, barbeque, or another item in a reasonable way and it fails to perform then we get our money back. What about the job program that says its graduates get jobs with students who do not get one offer? No recourse.

The idea of warranty interests me as at least worth considering by nonprofits.  My daughter ran a program called “School Turnaround,” and it was the only initiative she knew of in education that carried a warranty.  If the school did not see academic achievement rise by an agreed-upon amount, the district could either have their money back or an additional year to get to achievement.

Which would you rather have?  A wonderful set of value and belief statements or a warranty? The first is aspirations. The second is a commitment.  

I have long offered a warranty in my own consulting:   If you are not highly satisfied with the results you achieved with my help, you may dock my pay by any amount you choose.  One huge advantage of my warranty is the entry point it gives me to get the client to be very clear on what constitutes success and how we will verify it.  

Too bad you did not pay to read my blog. You could have asked for your money back.

By Hal's Results First

Hal Williams 
Outcome Guide

… is a resource for foundations,
governments, and nonprofit
organizations that seek to define,
track, verify, and communicate the
results they achieve.

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