The Benefits of Being Unreasonable

May 17, 2023

Although I write a blog about marketing and communications as a way to steward your donors well, there a many ideas across the nonprofit continuum that I could share. My leadership coach has encouraged me to share the fullness of what makes the work we do at our shop remarkable. I’m leaning into that today.

You see some people think non-profit work is hard. But the truth is, it’s worse than that. It’s hard but we make it look easy. That kind of dedication requires some very special people—people like you.  It also requires 1) the streamlined execution of quality systems, 2) the intentional implementation of self-care strategies, and 3) the dedicated desire to make your mission come alive to your donors. See, just three things! 😊

Keep in mind, I’ve not mastered these things…yet. But in my 20 years of nonprofit work, I’ve learned a thing or two. First and foremost, I’ve learned to trust the experts. So, when the likes of Simon Sinek recommends a book, I listen, buy, read, highlight, learn, share, and apply.

I happen to follow Sinek on TikTok and when he introduced the book Unreasonable Hospitality it intrigued me and we’re not even in the hospitality business.  Or are we?  Sinek said, “On the surface, this is a book about a talented entrepreneur who helped transform a middling brasserie in New York City into the best restaurant in the world”. Clearly, I’m not restauranteur; I can barely cook. However, in Sinek’s brilliant mind he knows that this book is so much more than a roadmap for a singular industry. He said, “This is a book about how you treat people. How to listen. How to be curious. And how to learn to love the feeling of making others feel welcome. It’s a book about how to make people feel like they belong.”  He had me at hello.

FREE READ (PDF) Unreasonable Hospitality: The Re | 882316のブログ

Sinek enticed that author Will Guidara doesn’t just think about actions but about how your actions make people feel. That hit different. It reminded me of one line in a recent Seth Godin blog entitled Ideas Shared are Exponential where he said, “If you want to build a vibrant non-profit, create one where your donors do the fundraising”. There’s no way you can do that if you don’t know how to treat your donors.  If you don’t listen to them. If you’re not curious about why they donate to you in the first place. And there’s certainly no way they’ll keep giving themselves or encourage their circle of influence to do so if you haven’t made them feel welcome or like they belong to your nonprofit family.

In other words, Sinek was right. The restaurant industry metaphors that Guidara guides us with in Unreasonable Hospitality are not only transferrable to the nonprofit field, but they’re also stunningly transformative. So much so, that I incorporated one of my favorite professional development tactics to share his message.  That being, I purchased one of these books for everyone on my team that wanted one! For the cheap price of a book and a pizza lunch where we have a Book Club, we’re all reading and learning about Unreasonable Hospitality and how to integrate it into our daily operations. Trust me, it’s the cheapest professional development you’ll ever find and it’s sticky, too. By sticky, I mean that reading together and talking about it gets these ideas to stick. I highly recommend it.

Sticky Marketing - Slow Selling

And, of course, there are both Left Brain Marketing Methods and Right Brain Marketing Moxie that can be garnered from this book. Are you surprised?  Don’t be!  When you open yourself up to looking for ideas, you’ll find them everywhere.

Will Guidara, the genius that Simon Sinek knows he is, knocked both brains out of the park with this one sentence:  Service is black and white; hospitality is in color. Boom!  There it is! Let’s talk about it.

Color o Blanco y negro ¿Que conviene más en el diseño? – Blog ...

Left Brain Marketing Methods:  Service is black and white. You’re doing this.  I’m doing this. It’s not uncommon for all nonprofits to be implementing the basics. He defines this “black and white” concept as doing your job competently, efficiently, and effectively. It’s standard operating procedure. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean we love what we’re doing or the way we’re doing it. It also doesn’t mean that our donors are inspired by what we’re doing or the way we’re doing it. It’s like the generic black and white brands you see at the grocery store. They’re cheap and get the job done, but no one is expecting frills or to be wowed at all—that’s service. And even with that basic definition, people still get bad service all the time—just check out airline TikTok if you don’t believe me.

But, color, well, adding color is a different story entirely. He defines color as making people feel wonderful about the work you're doing ‘for them’. These are genuine engagements with authentic connections. They are the relationships that build when the black and white service meets the color of hospitality.  Only Guidara took it one step further, from color to technicolor--he became unreasonable. That’s where the concept of Unreasonable Hospitality comes in.  In fact, the actual book title is Unreasonable Hospitality:  The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect.

Celebrity gif. Tyra Banks looks towards us with focused eyes and pursed lips. She a raises a mic and then drops it, throwing her hands up like, "What?"

Mic Drop! There it is right there. Not just providing basic service. Not just bring the level of hospitality that might even be expected in a business to consumer industry. Think Disney World. You go to Disney and you expect basic service, but you also expect hospitality. It’s gotta be included in the exponential price of those tickets, right?  But this is different.  Unreasonable hospitality is when you give people more than they expect. That means you supersede any preconceived notions they might have had about you. Around our office we often say that we want to delight our customers.  After all, how often do you feel delighted or even expect to be delighted?

My plan is to unpack some of this unreasonable hospitality for you over the next few blogs. In fact, I encourage you to buy the book and think about how to transfer some of these ideas into your systems.

But for today, I’ll leave you with two main ideas:

  1.  The human desire to be taken care of never goes away.

With this in mind, what’s one thing you could do that could take your basic service or perhaps the standard hospitality that your donors readily expect and put it on steroids?  How can you make them feel like they belong to your organization and your mission?  How can you ramp up your communication with them in a way that they would want to fundraise for you?  Just come up with one idea and do it. What’s just one elevation of what you’re doing right now that will delight and inspire? Imagine yourself pole vaulting directly over reasonable and landing in this unknown territory of unreasonable hospitality. In other words, how can the hospitality you deliver become so over-the-top that it feels unreasonable?

track & field wave GIF by GreenWave

  1.  Allow yourself to wrangle with the word unreasonable.

We’re conditioned to back away when someone uses the word unreasonable with us.  In most cases, the word itself is meant to shut us down, end our pursuits, and stop our behavior. But this book will challenge this way of thinking by trumping it with this thought:  No one ever changed the game by being reasonable. Whoop, there it is! In fact, the book challenges us to realize that across all genres of business and industry that you must be unreasonable to see and create a world that doesn’t exist yet.  And that’s the nonprofit space in a nutshell. Haven’t we always been the people in the world that painted the picture for our donors showing how their generosity could create a world for others that doesn’t exist yet? A world that can’t exist without the donors, in fact. If all nonprofits adopted this unreasonable hospitality approach in our donor communications, just imagine the monumental shift we could see in achieving our missions. Imagine how many donors would feel more connected to your nonprofit. Imagine how many community’s could be improved or people’s lives could be changed.

Eddie Murphy GIF by Coming to America

Right Brain Marketing Moxie:  You have an opportunity to take those things you’re intentional about now and add a heapin’ helping of creativity to them. Intentionality combined with creativity gets you something highly unreasonable. Something so unreasonable that those actions become remarkable. So remarkable that your donors, now raving fans, will be remarking about them to their friends. And that’s the beginning of how your black and white service becomes a colorful rainbow of hospitable service. It’s also the beginning of loving your job in a way most people have never experienced.

How to Draw a Colorful Rainbow Coloring Pages | Kids Songs Learn and ...

Just like generosity, hospitality feels great, to both the giver and the receiver. It is the intentional process of focusing on people once again—not processes or products, but people. So, stay tuned to this blog as we discover how making our donors feel good about the work we do not only matters, but matters more than you realize. And join me in learning from this book recommendation from Simon Sinek. Be a Sinek, not a cynic.

 All My Best,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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