The FAMCare Blog

The Power of "Scripting" For Non-Profits

Posted by George Ritacco on Oct 15, 2013 4:08:00 PM

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If non-profits think about “scripts” at all, it usually related to fundraising. These are the scripts created for the people who make calls to raise money on behalf of the non-profit.

If you do fundraising in this way, a script is an excellent tool for maximizing the power of these type of calls. One of the more potent aspects is that the script can be continually honed and refined until you find the one that gets the best response.

Could You Script How Caseworkers Interact With Clients?

But what about using scripts in other areas, such as client interaction and data collection? Before you say “that won’t work,” understand that this is not advocating you and your staff turn into robots who go around reading scripts to clients all the time. Not at all.

To understand why scripts can be an excellent tool, we need to take a quick detour and define what is meant by a script. Then we can circle back and dig into the relevance of this for non-profits. Keep reading and you will begin to see the benefits for your organization.

To better define what is meant by script in this context, let’s talk about the way a real script gets changed. If an actor takes the basic script and changes it on stage or screen, this is called improvisation. Typically, improvisation is associated with creativity and experimentation and often has a good outcome.

A Movie Without a Script is CHAOS!

But imagine a movie or play where there was no script at all and everything was improvised. The chances that a decent story would come out of this would fall somewhere between not likely and impossible. Most likely it would just be chaos.

This analogy helps us see the power of scripts for non-profits. Here is the first key question to ask about scripts: “If we took the time to map out interactions/touchpoints with our clients and gave our staff basic scripts to work from, would it improve our service to our clients?”

Most likely the answer is “Yes.” Scripting means the right information gets collected. Scripting means consistency of messaging to clients. And, ultimately, scripting leads to better outcomes for more clients.

The next key question is: how structured and detailed should a script be? (In other words, just how much room for ‘improvisation’ do you want to give your staff?). This will vary based on the particular needs of your non-profit. If you are a larger non-profit with tons of clients, more detailed scripts will likely be appropriate. You’ll have lots of staff and get better consistency with detailed scripts.

On the other hand, if you are a smaller non-profit, something along the lines of a checklist script might be the better choice. Instead of a full-blown script, you have something closer to a checklist to make sure NO KEY INFORMATION is left out of the process.

How To Use Technology To Increase The Power Of Scripts Exponentially

At the most basic level, the best way to create scripts is to walk through the typical client interaction from first contact through final outcome.

Script creation comes down to these 3 steps: 

  1. Take each touch point and write down what an ideal interaction would look like. This will serve as the basis for your script.
  2. Figure out just how detailed a script is best for your staff. It pays to be honest with yourself in this step. If lots of room for improvisation is the best, that’s great. But if giving your staff more detailed and structure and training them to do it will make your service better, than do yourself a favor and create them.
  3. Create the scripts. Remember, they don’t need to be 100% perfect to be effective. Just like with the fundraising scripts, you can refine and hone them as you use them.

Once these scripts are created, it is time to think about the best ways to implement them.

This is the point where the right technology can be the difference between success and failure.

Good non-profit software can be the perfect complement to scripts. For example, each part of the script could be associated with a required field on a computer form. As the information is conveyed, or as data is collected, this could be entered into the necessary field.

If any field is not filled out, then your staff knows immediately that part of the script or checklist was missed and it can be corrected on the spot.

If you don’t currently use software (or the software you do have is not flexible enough or easy enough to use), you will want to carefully analyze your options.

Here are some key points to look for in software:

Flexibility
Is the software a one-size-fits-all, or does it have enough customization options to make it truly useful? When implementing fields and data collection that complement your scripts, you must have software that can match your needs.

Scalability
This is often overlooked, but very important. You want software that fits your current size – this way you do not pay for more than you need. But you also want to find software with the ability to easily grow with you. There are few things as painful as outgrowing your technology and having to start all over from scratch.

User-Friendly
When comparing software, dig into the details of how it actually functions. Ask for a demonstration. And be sure to ask direct questions about training and support. Ease of use and good training are essential to any smooth addition or change to your technology.

Cost
Many non-profits, especially small to mid-size non-profits, drown in paper and files or put up with old, cumbersome software because they are afraid the price tag of new software. And there is no doubt that budget constraints are real.
A solid step forward is to at least explore the options. There is no-risk to getting free consultations and quotes to better understand what is possible. Now that ‘cloud-based’ software is a reality, the ability to get powerful tools at an affordable price is actually possible.

If you want to read more about software solutions specifically tailored for non-profits, there is a free report available, The Unofficial Guide to Electronic Case Management. You can click here to download the report.

Topics: Special Reports, FAMCare Tips and Tools

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