Staff and volunteer resistance are often one of the most significant barriers nonprofit organizations face in increasing their funding from earned income. In some cases, cultural opposition stems from asking for money from customers, clients, or donors. Sometimes the pushback is so massive it curtails all discussion. This block results in significant income loss. You’ll encounter those who like the way things are now in every nonprofit. This resistance holds true even when it means you lack money to pay them adequately.
At Bok Towers Gardens (read about their success with earned revenue here), the docents’ support, who provided the house tours of Pinewood Estate, was the most prominent hurdle they faced as they increased their income and attendance by 300 percent. In the new setup, instead of leading tours through the mansion, docents were assigned to various sites in the building. Some docents preferred “the old way” of conducting tours even as Bok Tower Gardens enjoyed wild success with the fresh approach. As an intelligent compromise, staff encouraged the docents to help visitors enjoy the mansion as they saw fit. If a group or individual were happy self-touring, they didn’t interfere. Docents create on-the-spot personal tours when visitors want more details.
When you identify great ideas to increase your income, expect resistance. When you encounter it, love people for their loyalty. Please help them to understand how the change has the potential to impact your mission, funding, and experiences. Brainstorm compromises, like the leadership at Bok Tower Gardens. Develop that mix the best of the old and the new. Help the resistance to join the cause.
What examples of cultural resistance, especially concerned earned revenue, have you encountered? How did you overcome them?
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Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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