We made it to the last question in our series of important questions you must ask your agency or consultant. We saved what we consider to be the most important to the last. The most important question you must ask your agency or consultant is: “Are our values in alignment?”
You could phrase the question another way: “Are the things most important to me also important to you?”
This question is sensitive for everyone. And this question is no doubt the most personal and subjective of all. Because what’s important to you, may not be important to another in a similar ministry.
Let’s start with the why this is important. Someone might contend “values alignment” isn’t necessary. “Why does it matter?” could be their question. It isn’t important that every business relationship be in alignment with your organizational values.
For instance, does that painter who paints your offices have to have similar values to you? Probably not.
Or your plumber? Probably not.
Or your mechanic? Nope.
Or your printer? Probably not a big deal.
Or your accountant? Hmmm…. if possible.
Or your attorney? Yes, if possible.
Or your board chairman? Oh Yes.
The closer a business relationship is to the work of your ministry or charity and the more likely they are to communicate to your donors, the more important it is that you and they think alike.
The agency or consultant role helps you shape your messaging to your donors. If the relationship is going well, they are taking your needs and dreams to your donors. That conduit of communication is too important to have in the hands of someone whose values are drastically different from yours. The people who are helping shape your words and guide your strategies must be people who value what you value. If not, they cannot do as good a job for you as some who shares your values.
We’re not talking about a test of orthodoxy or something out of the McCarthy days We are talking about figuring out if the agency or consultant “gets you.” Are they passionate about why you do what you do?
If you are focused on ending the blight of poverty in the inner city, does your agency want to take you out on the company yacht for a business meeting (and bill you for those expenses)?
If you have given your life to curing drug and alcohol addiction, does your consultant have a drinking problem?
If you have a burning passion for evangelism, do the people within the agency who shape strategy and write copy have similar beliefs?
If you are a Christian ministry, is it important to you that the very people who represent you through your copywriting, graphic art displays and social media marketing strategies are also Christian? In other words, how important are shared beliefs to you?
The core issue is do they value what you do or are they just doing a job? What does that look like? If you work with an agency, did you get the first warm body available or do you have people working for you who have similar passions? Can you tell if they are working with you only for the money or do they truly share your mission?
Maybe the best way to ask this question is to ask them, “What are your values?” that way you have a starting place for the discussion.
One of the most amazing experiences is working with people whose values align with yours. Trust levels are higher. The work moves faster. Impact is multiplied. Your work with your agency becomes relationship-based rather than transaction-based. When you need the very best work, in the most challenging time, you have to work with someone who shares your values. (And you’ll be able to measure it in your results!)
That’s the last of the Ask Your Agency questions, for now. Go out and have a great conversation with your consultant.
And we’d love to know, which of the 10 questions is the most important to you?
Here’s the list of our “Ask Your Agency/Consultant” questions so far:
Question 1: Are our values in alignment?
Question 2: Will you tell me the truth?
Question 3: Have you disclosed all commissions?
Question 4: How do you integrate fundraising and marketing?
Question 5: Have you worked in a ministry?
Question 6: Is my data secure?
Question 7: Are you selling me generic solutions?
Question 8: How will the new 990 requirements effect me?
Question 9: Do you walk the walk?
Question 10: Are you a real expert?
(photo credits: gitsul)