Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

What nonprofits can learn about donor development from Apple’s remarkable success at retail

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Using J.C. Penney’s hiring of Apple’s top retail exec, Ron Johnson, as a hook, The Wall Street Journal today has a front page story on some of the secrets of Apple’s success at retail. Most of the credit of course goes to innovative, quality product, but the article’s focus is on Apple’s 326 stores which now have more visitors in a single quarter than Disney’s four biggest theme parks last year.

Much of their philosophy is very similar to how we at share Our Strength think about creating real value for customers. It suggests a valuable perspective for all nonprofits regarding donor development and corporate partnerships. “According to several employees and training manuals, sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell but rather to help customers solve problems. ‘Your job is to understand all of your customers needs – some of which they may not even realize they have.’ One training manual says….”You were never trying to close a sale. It was about finding solutions for a customer and finding their pain points,’” said one former employee.

The article can be found @