Sales mindset in leading an NGO

Productivity – Impact – Attitude

Five and a half years ago I joined an NGO as a CEO. Having a background from business, mostly sales management. My toolset was consisting from sales mgmt tools and leadership tools in business and I have been using them.

Here comes a short introduction of the ideas and tools I have practiced.

We are appx 12 million euros NGO in Finland with 1 000 000 people directly receiving our support.

First some results:

  • 2014 we acquired 648 new sponsors – 2020 the outcome was 2501new sponsors
  • Our public grants have diversified and grown, more donors
  • 2014 personnel was 36 (FTE) – 2020 we had 28 employees
  • Cost per acquisition has dropped with 30% from 2014
  • We have invested 2,5 times more to fundraising compared to 2014
  • Our personnel satisfaction has increased yr on yr
  • The funds sent to the field have grown
  • All the External audits have given us excellent reviews
  • most importantly, the impact on the field has been measurably good:

The toolset

Change in paradigm

We have started to think and talk about revenue streams. Where are the funds coming from and how are they used? Who pays our salary? INCOME THINKING vs SPENDING BUDGETS

Mission centric

Our focus is on protecting children. We talk about our purpose and vision. We measure and calibrate our activities to our mission. We remind and train our partners to our mission. We make sure that each one in our personnel has a personal experience on our field work, each one needs to visit the field at some point. PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE

Outside in, the inside out

We plan our activities and targets to meet the requirements of our external funding partners and the needs of the children. We care about the children, their communities and reality. We also care about our donors’ and funders’ reality. Our job is to match these two.

First targets, then activities and requirements

When planning, we first set targets (Impact, Income, Influence). Then we plan our activities, how much, to whom, with what message? What capabilities we need to do those activities? What are the requirements we have or need to have?

What is the ROI? TCO?Hitrate? Segmentation.

Build Pipelines! You need to have many activities to close a deal.

Execution happens the otherway, From requirements to targets.

Healthy finance, cost control and culture

Productivity comes from a streamlined organization. We don’t need a ’corporate hierarchy’. Self service culture. Stop doing-lists. Planning for effective work. Targets, measurements in revenue and costs. Digitalization. Agile job descriptions. Stop doing over-quality in wrong places! Knowledge management. Stop bad behaviour.

Attitude before aptitude

A specialist that can’t co-operate is seldom needed. Everything is connected to everything. These are loops, not siloes.

The Rythm

Many channels and often. Focus and repetition. Listen, learn, plan and execute and measure.

The Funnel

Visibility, brand, publicity, stories, contact, ask, feedback loop. Different audiences, same message, several times. Clear asks.

The Fly Wheel

Influence – Impact – Income – Influence – Impact – Income…

Leading with dialogue

One to ones for every member of the personnel, frequently. Calendar makes sure that the information and dialogue flows all directions, also horizontally. Mutual time is respected. Speed date with the CEO at least once a year.

Change happens inside out

Celebrate what we already have. Be present. Relationship-driven, connecting people and gifts.


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