“We talk about the quality of product and service. What about the quality of our relationships, and the quality of our communications, and the quality of our promises to each other?” – Max De Pree
If you’re a non-profit organization, you know it’s all about relationships – relationships with those you support, your members, donors, volunteers and even your board of directors. These relationships are the basis of your business and are how you build trust, respect, awareness and your reputation. Without these relationships there’s a good chance your volunteer numbers would dwindle and your donations would dry up. You want to nurture these relationships so they are mutually beneficial, but how do you know if they are? That’s where continuous measurement comes in.
So, how do you figure out where your relationship stands with your key constituencies? Perhaps one of the best ways to find this out is by using this relationship survey prepared by Dr. Linda Childers Hon and Dr. James E. Grunig. Through their research they have found that the outcomes of an organization’s long-term relationships with key constituencies can best be measured by focusing on six parts of the relationships that exist:
Control Mutuality – The degree to which parties agree on who has the rightful power to influence one another. Trust – One party’s level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other party. Satisfaction – The extent to which each party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced. Commitment – The extent to which each party believes and feels that the relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote. Exchange Relationship – In an exchange relationship, one party gives benefits to the other only because the other has provided benefits in the past or is expected to do so in the future. Communal Relationship – In a communal relationship, both parties provide benefits to the other because they are concerned for the welfare of the other, even when they get nothing in return.
This is just one way you can begin to measure your relationships. However, don’t limit yourself to this one survey. Consider periodic online surveys, attendee surveys at your next event or even building questions into your email newsletter. Just be consistent and ask the same questions across your selected time period so you can measure the changes in awareness, sentiment, etc.
You’ve worked hard to build your relationship with your organization’s community and because of this, it is mission critical to know what the status of your relationship is at all times. Careful monitoring and measuring along with making any necessary adjustments based on your findings will help you meet your objectives. Perhaps more importantly, preserving and promoting these relationships may make all the difference between surviving as an organization and thriving as one.
What do you think is important to measure when it comes to relationships? Are you measuring your relationships with your community? What would you like to add?