Non-profits: Get Militant or Get Out

 In Blog Post, Tactics

I need to have a conversation with my friends in the  non-profit world. It may not be pleasant to hear but someone has to speak truth to your power.

This conversation really began many years ago when I began attending chamber of commerce networking breakfasts to promote my marketing business. At an event like that, you are supposed to create and develop relationships. The way you can build those relationships is to not only be on the lookout for customers, but, and here is an important thing, to be on the lookout for vendors that you can buy from and connections that you can make between other attendees.

The most successful of us at that game were the ones who were able to master that second part of the networking game.

The companies who were the worst at this game, invariably, were the non-profits.

And with that last sentence, I just lost a bunch of the most important readers of this blog, the non-profits. Want to know why? Because they are answering me with the sentence, “But we are a non-profit, we don’t have the budget to buy things from you for-profit businesses.”

I’m going to get on my soapbox here for a moment when I say “Are you freakin’ kidding me?  WAKE THE HECK UP!”

Here are my 4 POINTS to back up this diatribe to try and wake up non-profits:

  1. Non-profits have to operate their business, which means they need products. These products include everything from office supplies to furniture to alarm systems, etc.
  2. Non-profits also need services. These services include everything from buying insurance, to  accounting and graphic arts, etc.
  3. Non-profits can get involved in events other than their own.
  4. The non-profit tax status is just that, a tax status. It does not mean they cannot make money or have a teeny tiny budget.  You may make money and spend that money to improve your surroundings. What you can’t do is make money to the benefit of any one person.

Part of the challenge is that non-profits send people out into the community who, as the Eagles sing in Hotel California, are programed to receive. This means that they do not have any authority to put money into the community, just to take money OUT of it.

Yes, Miss Non-profit executive who is pretty pissed at me right now. You are different. But… if you are willing to listen to these 3 questions and my answer, I may be able to assist you to reach higher levels than you have previously.

Do you want to be more successful?

Do you want to raise more money?

Do you want to do more good for your community?

I have good news, I have the answer for you to make this happen for your non-profit. Let me show you how.

Most of you non-profits send your people into the world to walk about with your hand out like that scene from Oliver where Mark Lester holds out his hand and says “May I have some more, sir?” Non-profits are begging for table scraps.

So, you say, what SHOULD we be doing? We are just a non-profit.

One word: Militant. You have to be militant!

You have to go into those meetings with your hand UP, not out. You have to hold your hand up and have that sheet of paper (real or figurative, your choice) with all the things you do in the community and say “HEY! Without US… all these things are not getting done in your community.”

Make people feel it.

Make people relate to it.

Make people know that when they get on your band wagon, they are doing great things within their community.

Here is the other side of it. It is my opinion that each business owner must, MUST find at least one non-profit and get involved. We have to find a cause and support it. What non-profits need to do is share that feeling. Get business owners in your area to buy into it. They may not buy into YOUR non-profit, but when you are militantly sharing what YOU do for the community, you will get more than your share.


I am stepping down from my soapbox now.

If you want help becoming militant, I strongly suggest you sign up for a free 30-minute Get Focused Call at www. Free Marketing Consultation .com   Sharyn has a master’s degree in non-profit management and between the two of us have sat on several boards of directors of non-profits.  We speak your language and are in your corner. Reach out. Now!

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