Archive for September 7th, 2012

September 7, 2012

5 Lessons Every Nonprofit Can Learn from a Starbucks Barista

Starbucks has built an international reputation for making a fine cup of coffee. But, did you know that you can learn at least five valuable lessons from a Starbucks barista?

I’m not talking about learning how to make a great espresso or cappuccino. While a Starbucks barista could certainly help you with that, I’m talking about five lessons every nonprofit development professional can learn to be a more effective fundraiser.

The lessons don’t come from just any barista, though. I’m talking about Nicole who fixes beverages at the Starbucks in the Nashville International Airport.

Let me tell you my story, and share with you what I learned from Nicole:

Lesson 1: Never say, “It’s not my job.”

I was just passing through Nashville on my way to a speaking engagement for the Association of Fundraising Professionals St. Louis Regional Chapter. I had to make a connecting flight. I passed a Starbucks on the way to my gate. There was a line, but I had plenty of time. So, I queued up for my trenta-iced-unsweetened-green-tea.

I patiently waited to place my order with the cashier, the normal procedure. But, I was startled by the voice of the barista. She called over to me, before I had even made my way to the cashier, to ask for my order. I was surprised. It actually took me a moment to understand what she was doing. Then, I gave her my order.

By the time I made it up to the cashier and paid for my drink, instead of the usual wait, Nicole had it ready for me. I was stunned with how quickly the line moved and how quickly I was served. Because this experience was so vastly different than any other Starbucks experience I have ever had, and because I had some time to kill before my flight, I stood and just watched the operation. I wanted to understand what was so special about this Starbucks. That’s when I realized that the difference was Nicole.

She could have simply waited until the cashiers gave her drink orders to fill. After all, it was not her job to take orders. But, Nicole saw a line of passengers trying to rush off for their flights. She knew they needed to get in and get out as quickly as possible. And, because she was able to assist, she did even though it wasn’t her job.

In our own organizations, it’s easy to fall back on our job descriptions. It’s easy to think, “It’s not my job. Let someone else take care of it.” But, when everyone in our organizations goes the extra distance for those receiving service or those donating money, we show that we care.

My wife was recently treated at Lankenau Medical Center. It’s a large facility. When walking down the hall, if you even look confused, a member of the staff will stop and offer assistance. Even doctors will do this. This is just one small example of the caring culture at Lankenau.

At most other hospitals I’ve visited, this has not been the case. I guess folks at those other hospitals think it’s not their job to help lost visitors, that’s what the information desk is for. Anyway, can you guess which hospital has a warm place in my heart for this and so many other reasons?

If you and your colleagues refuse to say, “It’s not my job,” you’ll help take a step toward creating or enhancing your own culture of caring. When you do that, you’ll be building relationships that make fundraising much easier.

Lesson 2: Be customer/donor centered.

Nicole was definitely customer focused. She knew we were all concerned about making our flights. So, she did what she could to keep us moving along. And, she anticipated our needs.

One of my pet peeves with Starbucks is that after I get my beverage, I always have to hunt for where they have the straws and napkins. Then, I have to figure out which straw goes with my beverage size. It wastes time, and it makes me feel stupid as I stumble around trying to find these items.

However, Nicole knows this straw-hunt ritual is a time waster. So, understanding my needs, she made sure to have the correct straw right there next to my iced-tea.

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