Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seeking out New Clients

Marketing is not just for for-profits organizations. While businesses goal is to make money, non profits reach out to get money from various funders. Since our agency can't be measured in terms of financial gain, our funders measure my department's success in part by work we do with our clients (i.e. number of residents who remain housed) and number of clients we serve. Since our residents are under no obligation to meet with us this means a part of our job is outreach and seeking out clients. We have a few several hundred possible residents who are potential clients, not considering the turnover factor with tenants moving in and out so usually each month new tenants are moving in.

It’s odd to market yourself as a free service. “Get your case manager here!” Quite frankly, I’d want a case manager. I could use someone try to help me organize my life. Make sure I go to the doctor. In that sense I would be all over an opportunity to get a case manager.

A part of why we don't see more residents signing up for case management services may be an issue of pride. Not wanting to ask for help because they want to figure it out themselves. Also, if you (the client) have never heard of our organization how do you know it would help you? That’s why word of mouth helps and that’s one way we’ve gotten new clients – referrals from current ones.

What does boggle my mind is how residents who have lived for several years in the same neighborhood as my agency have no idea who we are. I once talked with security and mentioned this and said I don't understand how this happens, especially since we do a various programming on a fairly regular basis and have other departments that work with the community. “Easy,” the security guard said, “They’re asleep during the day,” and added that people wander in during the hours our soup kitchen is open because they see a lot of people come out of our building.

Fair to say that I’m sure a lot of people are doing just fine without us and sometimes I think about that, like what is our ceiling number of clients? It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever serve all the tenants in our buildings.

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