1 min Read
July 18, 2017

Is your nonprofit competing against itself?

Earlier this year, our friends over at CauseVox interviewed me again for their Rally & Engage podcast series. We had a lively discussion about creating nonprofit communications plans (give it a listen here!) Toward the end of the interview, host Noah Barnett asked me a provocative question: “What are you seeing nonprofits invest in, and what they should stop doing in 2017?”

You can listen to the whole interview (and hey, let me know if you do), but here’s the gist of how I responded to that particular question.

I honestly wish nonprofits would stop competing with themselves. I might know your run, walk, or ride event, or I might know the program you do in a specific location, but I might not realize that it’s part of a larger whole. This happens because sometimes nonprofits over-brand programs to the point where now people don’t even realize they are part of the organization, and audiences get confused. As a result, we inadvertently end up competing with ourselves.

Nonprofits sometimes also compete with themselves by in-fighting. The marketing team or communications team doesn’t talk to the fundraising team, or the development department says, “this is our list, you can’t communicate to them.”. Or the marketing team controls Facebook, so development can’t publish a post there. Your donors don’t care whose list they’re on, what they want to do is advance your mission and get to that ultimate vision of what you’re looking to do. End hunger, bring peace to the world, create love and support and harmony, whatever it is you’re trying to do.

Organizations need to pause and ask: do we have too much in-fighting or are we competing with ourselves? Is there a better way to tell the story collectively and speak with a more unified voice?

I want to see more nonprofits use communications to advance their mission, not confuse their supporters. Don’t you?