Ever accidentally slide into an event with no intention of avoiding the price of admission? You find yourself encountering a form of entertainment for which everyone else purchased access. A year ago at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam, my wife and I paid for one exhibit and as we exited we accidently entered the second paid exhibit through a side door. We walked through without delay and we exited properly. Technically, we had received a bonus exhibit for the price of our admission. It was not one we desired to pay for even after our unintentional preview.
As social sector organizations, we rely on advocates, ambassadors, donors, volunteers, and members, yet we forget to check how people encountered our cause. Just because someone is standing in our facility or attending our event does not mean they are seeking our services. How people enter our organization matters. Consider a few possibilities:
- New to the area and getting oriented
- Invited by a friend or business associated
- Looking for a place to hangout
- Heard good things about a past program or event
- Ready to be fully engaged and just need to be asked
- Attending to be seen by others
- Repaying a favor
- Had a personal experience that transformed their life
Each one of the aforementioned scenarios requires a different interaction. If we try to connect using one approach we have a 1 in 8 chance of meaningful engagement (just from the list above). We think we know why we like a newcomer but do we know why they like us?
Be brave and foster an individual connection with each person your enterprise encounters. Then you will know not only how they arrived but why they might stay.