As a nonprofit leader, your heart is your superpower. Your organization was founded for a unique purpose that only it can accomplish. As you think about how to maximize your agency’s greatest potential and increase performance, focus on the core of who your organization is.

Wooden-crafted hearts symbolizing using one's heart to unlock potential.

Defining a clear value proposition is one way to get to the heart of the matter. A value proposition explains what your organization does better than any of its competitors. It defines why you exist and describes what benefits you provide to the people you serve. You can see examples of industry-leading value propositions from the for-profit world here.

To ensure your organization is operating from the heart, use the below guidelines to create—or clarify—your value proposition.

Define customer personas

 The only way to determine if you truly are serving your customers is to understand who they are. What do they care about? What do they need? Why would they consider your organization’s programs and services?

List all possible stakeholder personas and assign specific characteristics to each. For example, Daryl the Donor wants to give to an organization that consistently meets or achieves its performance outcomes. He seeks an agency with technical savvy so that he can conduct his transactions online. He is impressed by a nonprofit that uses a business intelligent member management platform to report its quarterly benchmarks.

Clarify customer pain points

Take customer analysis a step further by anticipating your stakeholders’ greatest challenges and defining how your organization can solve these problems. Continuing the example of Daryl the Donor, perhaps he struggles to find a nonprofit that meets his high expectations for data reporting and transparency. He wants to be reassured that his resources are being used for programs and services that bring value to the community.

As you identify customer personas and pain points, consider surveying or interviewing the source. The best way to determine who your stakeholders are and what they care about is to ask them.

Apply SPOT analysis insights

All the work you invest in your organization’s ongoing strategic planning efforts pays off in this final step of value proposition creation. Refer to your organization’s most recent SPOT analysis to recall its strengths, problems, opportunities and threats. This resource provides a balanced view of internal and external forces that merge to make your agency truly unique.

For technically proficient Daryl the Donor, a nonprofit organization with digital fundraising capabilities is a game changer when he weighs where to give his money. Particularly in the nonprofit market, many agencies lag in digital transformation, so investment in fund accounting and member management will serve this customer persona and his pain points well.

Be true to you

The most important thing to remember when verifying your value proposition is to capture who you are today. This is not an exercise in change; rather, it is a pulse check on reality. And when it’s time to embark on a culture change journey, a clear value proposition is an ideal place to start. Any organizational transformation process begins with an understanding of your agency’s current identity.

Be confident in the heart of your organization. It is your greatest power and unleashes your truest purpose.