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It's A Dog Eat Dog Nonprofit World - Articles Surfing
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;
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.*
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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