07/30/2014 03:09 am ET Updated Sep 28, 2014

Nonprofits: Are Your Clients Integrated Into Your Organization?

This week I am in London helping St Mungo's Broadway Recovery College develop a video program for their clients. When I arrived, I was met by Andy Williams, Head of Client Involvement and Personalization. Being from Hollywood, I am pretty used to hearing some interesting job titles, but the words "client" and then "involvement" don't normally go together, so I asked Andy to explain.

Andy's job is to make sure their clients are integrated into every level of the charity. Andy explains that clients are included in the hiring and the performance review of staff. That alone is a game changer! He told me they are working on a new building and clients are even involved with the architectural planning!

By including clients in every aspect of a charity, the organization is transformed immediately into a nonprofit that can adopt to the real needs of the people they serve. Plus, clients will develop self-worth and ownership in their own lives and the charity.

From what I was told, integrating clients is not necessarily just a St Mungo's Broadway thing, but how charities operate here. Can you imagine if homeless people in the U.S. were actually involved in the hiring process of all staff (even executive staff) at homeless nonprofits? Oh how wonderful that would be. Seriously, if you're reading this and you work for a U.S. based homeless services of some kind, I DARE YOU to start integrating homeless people into all levels of your organization.

I just had to rant about client integration, yet the Recovery College is also beyond awesome too! When they first asked me to help create a video course obviously I said yes, but then they told me why and I got excited. The goal of the soon-to-be video digital storytelling class is not to create the next Steven Spielberg, but to help people build self-esteem. Many of the courses are simple creative classes that anyone can complete and feel good about themselves. The person holding the camera for this interview is a client, and after this video we went on and the clients produced their very first video. It was a day I'll never forget!

How do you engage with the people you serve?