10 Times Nonprofits Fooled Themselves
We’ll be honest and take the cat out of the bag (or rather, bunny out of the magic hat). We held a round table at the office brainstorming ways we can prank you tomorrow with outrageous claims and ridiculous accusations. But we still want to keep you around in our email list, so we decided NOT to jump at the opportunity of keeping you on the edge of your seat watching out for Whoopie cushions and rubber chickens.
We’re sparing April Fools’ Day puns to give you real examples of when nonprofits accidentally fooled themselves (and tips on how to avoid these in the future).
- They wanted to hire a Development Director with no marketing experience
There’s a lot of debate over how closely marketing and development ties together in the nonprofit world. Whether you strongly agree or disagree, there’s no denying that the two departments often work closely together (think fundraising events). If your first thought is that it isn’t necessary for a development director to have knowledge of how marketing plays a role in fundraising, you might be setting up the person you hired for failure. And how do we know? We do an organizational assessment as part of our recruiting process.
- They believed that a Board of Directors has no fundraising responsibilities
Aside from governance, fundraising is the second biggest duty of a Board member. This means that it would be part of your board's responsibility to attend (and pay for tickets to) the agency-standard fundraising events and drives. There are fun events, but no freebies here.
- They told us they were doing well on social media
With 50 Facebook likes and an ongoing stream of content, nonprofits like to believe that they’ve got it all figured out when it comes to social media, but it's not effective communicating if you're not using affective content.
- They acted like they had the best grant writer on staff
Writing a proposal for funding can be a tricky endeavor. Much like a publisher sorting through thousands of book proposals, program officers simply don't have the time to entertain every request they receive, and furthermore, they don't have the ability to fund every proposal. While there are many reasons that a proposal may end up in the reject pile, after speaking to several seasoned program officers, we've come to the not-so-shocking conclusion that oftentimes, a rejected proposal has the same fatal flaws.
- They pretended that DIY fundraising wasn’t a resource to tap into
We are in an oversaturated sea where organizations have to compete with individual fundraising platforms like GoFundMe and IndieGoGo. Your fundraisers are your cause ambassadors. Are you utilizing them wisely?
- They’re 100% convinced that their brand is fine as is
A brand is more than just a logo. If your staff members don’t have an elevator pitch or can’t fully recite your mission statement, you’ve got a problem.
- They thought that hiring a consultant would be the answer to everything
This might sound like a surprise coming from us, since we are consultants, but there are only some cases in which it’s better to hire a consultant than an employee. Are you familiar with what nonprofit jobs and services should stay in-house and what can be outsourced?
- They’ve denied ever being bullied
Bullying is a big deal these days. We see bullying everywhere; on the playground where children are barely learning how to share and make friends, in a busy parking lot when we’re all scrambling to find a parking space, and surprisingly, during Board meetings.
- They believed in the free value of volunteers
Let’s just be honest, when you’ve been charged by your supervisor to add “volunteer engagement” to your job description and performance goals, you can’t help but feel the need to crawl to a corner and cradle your body in fetal position. Why? Because although the work that volunteers perform may be free, the time it takes to prep and invest in them is not so free.
- They advertised the existence of their magical culture created by unicorn staff members
Ever heard of the term “elephant in the room”? We believe there’s a similar phrase for those who believe that “doing good” is all rainbows and sunshine. It’s called “the imaginary unicorn”.