This is part two of my “Behind the Curtains” series, a 5-part exploration of the processes, technology and strategies behind One World Youth Project’s partnership building. Part one of the series, Behind the Curtains: Innovative Technology for Partnership Building, discusses how we use innovative technology to manage partnerships remotely.
The value proposition is an important part of any organization, whether for profit or non profit. It helps stakeholders better understand the promised value your organization offers. During the development of our value proposition, I kept the following objectives in mind:
Identify the ultimate decision makers at each institution who potentially have the greatest influence on the growth and profit in our chain.
- Why: This allows us to scale and remix* our program to different regions of the world, thus increasing the social impact our organization has. (*Remix is different than [mirrored] replication at scale because we make our program flexible to fit the context, values and priorities of each institution and community. This ensures the highest level of efficacy because, in the world of education across the global stage, we believe that one size does not fit all.)
Discover the resulting experiences that universities most value vs. our “competitors” by creatively and analytically inferring from what customers do – not by asking them what they want.
- Why: This allows us to educate ourselves on the landscape we are operating in while deepening our understanding of what higher education institutions are hoping to deliver to its students. This is important to ensure we are forging partnerships with institutions that share our mission while increasing our efficacy and the probability of successful program implementation. I put our “competitors” in quotes because, unlike for-profit corporations, nonprofits work together to deliver the highest concerted effort of social change in communities. Understanding the work of our “competitors” allows us to plan for the education pipeline (the big picture) by conveying which organizations we could potentially partner or collaborate with to provide the greatest impact.
Choose the combination of these resulting experiences which the business could profitably deliver, and which would generate breakthrough growth
- Why: This allows us to pinpoint offerings in our program that we should continue expanding and developing, while giving us additional context on areas we might want to take a second look at (remember that this is in the context of social benefit and not monetary benefit). In addition, we can better understand areas outside of our current program structure that we might want to build out in order to provide the greatest value to the communities we serve (this is how our coalition with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, localization processes and alumni fellowship opportunities came about–we saw a need that would help inform and benefit our existing programming, and so we followed through).
Creatively redesign and integrate our program to deliver those experiences
- Why: Last but not least, and what is often overlooked, is the communication that happens between the recruitment/”sales” division and the programming team. What we find from our value proposition research and analysis will greatly inform the evolution of our program and the way in which it is delivered. In such an interconnected world where things are constantly changing due to technological advancement, it’s important that even nonprofits follow suit to provide the best (and most up-to-date) value to the communities it serves.
And of course, an organization’s value proposition initiative should not be left untouched after initial completion. The value proposition is a constantly evolving understanding of an organization, its sector and the people/communities it serves — all attributes that will change over time due to shifts in an organization and its environment. Thus, it needs to be constantly re-evaluated and re-defined to ensure that the program is providing the greatest value while being delivered and implemented in the most effective way possible.
A value proposition is so important for a nonprofit for reasons different than for-profits: building partnerships as a nonprofit should be as intentional and calculated as possible. There should alignment in missions/visions and an ability to identify and assess what institutions will thrive should a partnership be created. Not only that, but value propositions also ensure sustainability and continued value added for the communities you serve. Communities are constantly evolving due to the advancements and changes that happen in our world. It is not only fair, but also necessary, that we continue to shape program offerings and implementation to meet this reality.