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Nonprofits – Feeding in the Trough of Lack

Many, if not most, nonprofits feed at the trough of lack. They spend their time lamenting the lack of … whatever.  Food, housing, equality, care of the environment, resources, etc.

I saw a blog post by Emily Fitchpatrick, the Founder of Flagship Equip called “10 Things Major Donors Care about.” Without getting into all 10 items (go read her post!), it really made me think.

Nonprofits spend so much of their time “marketing” based on failure. “There are 500,000 people without adequate housing!” “There are 100,000 people in human trafficking in the United States!”

What would happen if they marketed with success? What if your pitch was, “Because of our efforts there has been a 20% decrease in children living on the streets. Help us do more!” “We house 135 dogs each night keeping them safe. With your support, we can house 100 more!”

Adding in cost-related information also presents success. “When we started, we provided meals to the homeless for $2.50. Thanks to our donors we have been able to expand and modernize and now the cost has been reduced to $1.00 / meal! Thank you! Your continued support will allow us to reduce that cost to $0.75!”

Instead, far too much material from nonprofits focus on the problem, often seeking to make the problem seem as large as possible.

I have seen several nonprofits who even understand this but fail to follow through. In the annual report, they talk about successes, but nearly all other messaging is about the negatives.

Focus on where you want to go. Putting this into practice, I have previously renamed “anti-human trafficking” to “Human restoration.” “Combatting homelessness” to “Ensuring housing for all.” Focus, market, and message based on the successes you’ve accomplished and seek to accomplish.

Everyone likes to support a success. “Failure is an orphan while success has many fathers.” [Not my quote and can’t find who created it: probably derived from Count Galeazzo Ciano]

I would encourage all nonprofits to review their messaging. Do they “feed at the trough of failure” or are they sharing the good news?

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Michael Barneshttps://awakened-innovations.com/
Michael Barnes is founder and CEO of Awakened Innovations, Inc. Awakened Innovations helps nonprofits to save time and money by connecting them with high-quality, vetted, service providers. Previously, Michael has been a business coach; Director of Lab Operations at, Assurex Health (a genetic testing laboratory); and built the Cincinnati Biobank and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Michael’s overarching passion is to help others succeed and fulfill their mission in life.

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