npo leadership: hello

Mondays are special here at Oneicity. We do a “Good Job Monday” shout out and call attention to someone you should know about who we think is doing a “good job.” Today we’re combining a blog post and our Good Job Monday because I think you’ll be inspired.

This week’s Good Job Monday goes to Jason Fried, the President and co-founder of the software company 37 Signals.

Jason Fried
Jason Fried

Jason runs a cool software company that makes one of the software programs we use (Basecamp–but that’s not what’s important). What is important is that On Tuesday and Thursday, between 3 and 5 p.m. Central time you can call 312-416-9980 and either talk to Jason or receive a recording that suggests you call back in a few minutes because he’s on the phone. No voicemail. No call screener. How cool is that? Got a complaint, give the boss a call. Want to ask a question, give Jason a call. Want to tell him, “Good Job,” give him a call. How amazing is it that a savvy software company would use something as old-school as a telephone?

For a little more information and background click here to read an online Chicago Tribune story about Jason’s plan. So, good job Jason of 37 Signals! You’re a terrific example of bold leadership for all of us.

Here’s the nonprofit and ministry application:
While social media and other technology channels are hugely important for engaging your donors in conversations, there is no substitute for a real-live voice-to-voice conversation. I don’t know how many people call Jason on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I suspect it’s a small percentage of the people who know about his “office hours.” I don’t know how many donors would call your CEO or Executive Director if you spread the word that every Wednesday between 3 and 5 he or she would be answering at their extension.

What I am sure of is this: everyone who hears that your organization is all about this radical level of availability would remember. Your donors would take note. What a smart idea to put on your website that your Executive Director keeps “office hours” and can be reached directly at 555-555-5555 on Tuesday mornings between 10-11AM? And during that time period, don’t let anyone answer that line but the boss. You know what would happen? Word would spread via all the social media channels and a few people would actually call.

And what an amazing experience for your Executive Director to actually talk to the public. Wonder how long it has been since she’s actually talked to a $10 a month donor? Or heard from someone who loves your ministry so much they are giving sacrificially to support your work? Or when was the last time he had the opportunity to explain to a new donor some of the new directions the organization is headed?

Some chief executives would love this. Others will hate it. Some will think it is dumb. Some will find it horribly frightening. And almost everyone will think they are far too busy to do this. Far too busy. And the reality is, maybe they are too busy to hear from the public, but they shouldn’t be. (OK, I’m not saying that a busy executive has to be available 24/7, but I am saying the boss should be available and easy to reach SOME of the time).

Oh, and here’s one more thing that I’ll guarantee will happen if you’ll do this: it will be a wonderful experience for your Chief Executive. Promise.

Why don’t you ask them? Hey blame it on me, send ’em this link and ask their opinion (that’ll be fun). And then give Jason a call and tell him “Good Job” and that I sent you.

What do you think about this level of availability: crazy or brilliant? Are you available by phone? I can’t wait to hear what you think.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

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