What is Your Nonprofit Selling?

Money (bundle of cash) by 401(K)2012 via Flicker

I love a quote I read from Jessica Jackley, co-founder of the nonprofit, Kiva (www.kiva.org).  Jackley was speaking about her reaction to a speech from a founder of a microfinance bank.  She said “The way he talked about the poor was beautiful, respectful, and dignified. I didn’t have feelings of guilt and shame like I did after a lot of nonprofit messaging. Instead, I wanted to be there, listening to people’s stories and talking with clients face to face” (Article titled ‘The Profit In Nonprofit’, in the online Sanford Social Innovation Review at www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/the_profit_in_nonprofit).   This made me think about the manner in which many nonprofits share their message of need; their need for money.

The more I thought about this, I realized that nonprofits are not just ‘in need of money’ to assist those whom they serve.  No, nonprofits are also selling something.  Think about it.  What is your nonprofit ‘selling’ to your funders?  Do your funders know what they are buying when they contribute to your nonprofit?  I believe that this goes beyond thinking about the typical outcomes that nonprofits normally measure.  It has to do with a change in how we think about a nonprofit’s purpose to the community.  Tell me what you are ‘selling’ so that I can determine if I want to ‘buy’ it!

When I donate, what am I really buying?  Am I buying a more stable economy when I donate to a shelter who is trying to get homeless people back into the workforce?  Does that shelter have a sustainability plan for each person they work with to guide him/her towards self-sufficiency?  Am I buying new careers for dancers, artists and singers when I donate to a nonprofit arts organization?  Do these organizations launch and support such careers so that people are employed doing what they love and are good at while providing me with enriching cultural experiences?  Am I buying a strong future for America when I donate to a mentorship program?  Does this guidance and leadership organization give youth all the tools that they will need to become upstanding and productive citizens of our society?

There will always be critical aspects of nonprofit fundraising that cannot be ignored. For example: strategic planning to determine projected revenue estimates, appropriate and diligent budgeting to assess costs and financial needs as well as consistent networking to build and maintain strong relationships with donors (current and potential).  But we should add a new way of thinking to our repertoire of fundraising marketing.  Let potential funders know what they are buying.  Think about the measured outcomes that every donor and contributor is putting money towards.   Help encourage every potential donor and contributor to know what they are buying and want to buy it!

Photo credit to:

Money (bundle of cash) by 410 (K) 2012 via Flickr

Website: http://www.401kcalculator.org/

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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