Delivering Value

(Best Practices, Research, Capacity Building) Permanent link

Our ONEplace Nonprofit Collection has this great little book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, by Peter Drucker and others. It’s a quick read that makes a lasting impression. Questions two & three grabbed me: Who is our customer? and What does the customer value? Specific, well-supported answers to these questions could turn your organization around.

Nonprofits have many customers. The authors distinguished between our primary customers (the persons who lives are changed through our work) and our supporting customers (volunteers, members, partners, funders, employees, and others who must be satisfied). Our business is not to casually please everyone but to deeply please our target customers. So, the first job is to clearly define our target customers in great detail. This definition affects everything.

Next, ask What does the customer value? This may be the most important – but least often asked – question. The authors suggest beginning with your assumptions of what you believe your customers value. Next, gather customer input and then compare your assumptions with what the customers actually are saying, find the differences, and go on to assess your results. Do this for both primary and supporting customers.

It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it. The reward comes in a greater focus on your mission, money-saving operational efficiencies, and greater value delivered to all of your customers.



Peter Drucker’s legacy of leadership development merged with the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Their mission is to strengthen and inspire the leadership of the social sector. Online at


The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization

Posted by Thom Andrews at 07/18/2012 09:36:21 AM | 

It was Drucker who (for me at least) proposed the clearest explanation of "effectiveness" vs. "efficiency"... Effectiveness, according to Drucker, is about "doing the right things" while efficiency is about "doing things right." Can it get any simpler than that?! In this case, your comments about creating unique value for customers is spot on. All too often, organizations focus on what *they* want their customers to know as opposed to what their customers actually want or need. Terrific post, Thom!
Posted by: keith ( Email ) at 7/18/2012 10:12 AM

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