Its A Dog Eat Dog Nonprofit World

Its A Dog Eat Dog Nonprofit World



You would not be working at​ a​ nonprofit if​ there was not a​ passion for your mission that compensated for the​ sacrifices in​ salary and other benefits you​ could probably earn in​ the​ commercial world. That says something about the​ kind of​ people we are. Most of​ us are:

* Trusting. We cannot imagine that there might be bad people in​ our idealized world;
* Optimistic. How could we survive if​ we did not believe we really could make a​ difference?
* Sympathetic. We are mostly attracted to​ needy causes or​ people;
* Non-confrontational. We mostly like consensus and seek agreement.
* Collaborative. Our comfort level is​ with working as​ a​ team rather than going it​ alone.

These are admirable and useful qualities to​ have in​ the​ nonprofit world. However,​ there are other people in​ your industry who do not fit this description. They operate more like they were in​ competition with everyone. Instead of​ trusting,​ they are wary. Instead of​ being optimistic,​ they are fearful of​ failure. Instead of​ being sympathetic,​ they are self-promoting. Instead of​ being non-confrontational,​ they fiercely stake out and defend their turf. Instead of​ being collaborative,​ they prefer to​ work alone isolated from their colleagues.

These people see their nonprofits being in​ competition with every other nonprofit – and they are absolutely right. However,​ the​ qualities they bring to​ the​ contest can often be disruptive and ugly. if​ you​ do not acknowledge this,​ you​ will lose donor dollars,​ volunteer commitments,​ membership,​ and patronage.

This article will describe the​ competitive environment in​ which nonprofits uncharacteristically find themselves. a​ subsequent article will deal with the​ strategies you​ need to​ consider in​ order to​ meet this challenge.

Where is​ the​ competition? it​ is​ coming at​ you​ from all directions:

* Geographic – Look at​ the​ other nonprofits in​ your town. Are some of​ you​ competing for the​ same resources? the​ problem is​ that if​ a​ donor decides,​ for example,​ to​ set up a​ charitable trust in​ favor of​ the​ hospital,​ it​ is​ unlikely they will consider a​ similar commitment to​ you. if​ the​ local library sponsors a​ town fair for their benefit,​ it​ means that you​ should not expect great success duplicating the​ experience. if​ a​ national charity prevails in​ a​ time of​ particular need,​ be it​ a​ tsunami or​ Katrina,​ people will channel their beneficence to​ them rather than you.

* Category – if​ you​ are a​ museum,​ you​ are in​ competition with other museums. For example,​ if​ you​ are a​ local historical society,​ your constituency may reduce their aid to​ you​ if​ they spend a​ weekend in​ Washington,​ DC at​ the​ Smithsonian. you​ are also in​ competition for support from your County Museum,​ State Museum,​ etc.

* Perception – as​ other nonprofits promote themselves in​ newspapers,​ magazines,​ newsletters,​ tv,​ and radio,​ you​ will find their name recognition increasing at​ your expense. Nonprofits need to​ recognize the​ importance of​ promoting their brand.

* Economic – if​ other nonprofits can outspend you​ on​ technology,​ lure talent with higher salaries,​ extend their markets by advertising and public relations,​ and spend money on​ consultants,​ they are positioning themselves to​ enjoy the​ dividends of​ these investments.

There are some ways that you​ can beat the​ competition,​ and create a​ better environment for the​ entire nonprofit community. We deal with these in​ the​ article “21 Things you​ Must do to​ Stay Competitive in​ the​ 21st Century.”




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