Stakeholders—from donors to service recipients to volunteers—have increasingly come to expect a more personal connection. While the nonprofit sector has made significant strides in the past decade, there still is insufficient attention to the personalization theme, especially given rapid development in the private sector. What is not surprising is that businesses are adapting faster, nimbly changing marketing and communication strategies. Businesses not adjusting have faced bottom-line profit margin troubles.

Much can be gained from further analysis of major stakeholder groups and ways to make relationships more personal:

Volunteers – Rather than solely focusing on checklists of known needs, asking volunteers what they have done in past service efforts and/or where they imagine themselves to be helpful can yield greater buy-in. Also, volunteers might assist in ways not yet realized that can add tremendous value. Those volunteers then have even more allegiance when the organization shows appreciation for their strengths.

Donors – Understanding donors before offering ways to partner in the mission allows for stronger, more meaningful partnerships. Donors can offer far more than a dollar amount—such as expertise and connections—and investing in a relationship will consistently yield dividends. The personal touch should continue by offering ways to view their philanthropy in action and personalizing notes of appreciation.

Service recipients – Nonprofits are usually guided by people with a personal passion for the mission and thus a familiarity with the needs of service recipients. However, major studies have demonstrated that the same programs and services shown to be effective under certain conditions can have very different outcomes in a different context. Unique needs become more apparent through a personalization lens.

The pace of change is striking and affects all sectors. One of these changes is people’s expectation that services will be customized. Viewed through a comprehensive SWOT analysis, new best practices will be inspired.