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Hint: The answer is yes.
By now you probably know two things about me: I travel frequently, and I’m addicted to good coffee – especially first thing in the morning. So you can understand my delight to find a high-quality coffee service right on my hotel floor this morning!
This was no in-room filter pack situation. To me, that’s like offering stale saltines to an artisan baker. I pass that up unless I’m completely desperate. But I also am reluctant to make myself presentable first thing upon waking just to go down multiple floors to a hotel lobby or a Starbuck’s to get the good stuff. On most trips, I actually bring a single-cup coffee maker with me on my travels just to avoid this situation.
But this time, there was good coffee within steps of my hotel room door on my floor. The chances of being seen with sleep-tousled hair and no lipstick were minimal and easily worth the reward. My astute Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto, CA understood this. They made a very small improvement that required little effort on their part (it’s the exact same coffee display they have in the lobby) that made a huge difference in my experience. They improved by a smidgen, and it was great!
Certainly, we as grantmakers can improve by a smidgen!
Take one thing you do well, that people appreciate, and brainstorm a few simple ways to make it better. For example, can you:
- Reduce a 4-page grant application down to three?
- Shrink a three-week grant approval process to two?
- Return phone calls and emails in 24 hours instead of 48?
- Make a one-step login for grantees on your website instead of three?
- Provide free parking for your community meeting space?
If you provide capacity building for grantees, or fund a particular group of grantees as part of an initiative, could you also add a convening each year where they can share and learn from one another, or where other funders can gather to share their own experiences? I’ve worked with several foundations that do this with rave reviews.
When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t really take that much to go the extra mile, but those extra steps can have a big impact on the people who matter most to your work.
At your next staff or board meeting, ask, “What can we do to improve just a smidgen?” – then take a few small steps to improve the experience of others. I guarantee you’ll hear about the value you’ve added by doing so.