Nonprofits Are Not Special

Surrender Flag Paperwork Act Like a Business

That’s right. Being a charity doesn’t magically change business, economic, or marketing realities. So think like a business. Not like a nonprofit.

Because the biggest problem among nonprofits is the “non.”

There are quite a few people in the nonprofit world who do not want to hear this. In fact, our least popular webinar has consistently been the one that Jeff Comfort and I presented titled, “The IRS Considers You a Business. Act Like One.” We focused very much on finances, P&L (profit and loss) statements, setting goals, and accountability. Apparently, no one wants to think like a business.

I cannot emphasize this enough: If you truly want your nonprofit to succeed, you need to think like a for-profit. Focus on these first:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Personal Relationships

Too many nonprofits drive their prospects away before they’ve even had a chance to get started. Here’s what I recently saw on a nonprofit’s pledge card:

“We need the funds now to maintain our property today.”

Talk about giving off a bad impression. What does the donor hear?

“Give us some bucks now to take us out of our misery.”

Can you imagine if a business used that same tactic in its advertising? “We need you to shop our electronics sale today, because we need to repair our leaky roof and still have enough left over to pay our employees.”

How can you say it better?

“We’re working on securing our future, so we can continue doing what we do today even better tomorrow.” This presents a much better image of your nonprofit to the public — and it simply builds trust and respect.

According to Stanford Business, “When nonprofits act like businesses, transparency improves … a 12-year study reveals that charities that adopt modern strategies are more likely to share and collaborate.” A survey found that nonprofits that were early adopters of managerial practices have been able to adapt quickly to become more transparent and collaborative. And of course, become more sustainable.

Finally, in critical times mission positioning is important. So is tact and prudence as words carry emotion.

This blog post may carry too many topics, but it’s all interrelated and critical for your organization, and personal success.

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