Five Myths That Will Hurt Your Nonprofit Success

There were 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States in 2016 and they all hope to have success in doing good.  Take a look at some of the myths which can doom your efforts.

Myth # 1.  My Nonprofit Doesn’t Need a Marketing Strategy.

What you do matters. Helping homeless people, improving the environment, or caring for shelter pets; it’s important.

You contribute to the well-being of others and need a strategy to let people know.

A marketing strategy helps prioritize your goals and defines how you will reach them.

Myth # 2.  We Don’t Need a Catchy Mission Statement.

In his book, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, Peter Drucker wrote,  “The effective mission statement is short and sharply focused. It should fit on a T-shirt.”

He then added, “It must be clear, and it must inspire. Every board member, volunteer, and staff person should be able to see the mission and say, ‘Yes. This is something I want to be remembered for.’”

A good mission statement tells what you do and why we should care. Put more effort into crafting a meaningful message than a for-profit business does.

Myth # 3.  Personas? Demographics? Market Research? Who Has Time For That?

You do- or you better find it! When you understand the people you serve, those who support your efforts, and the people who don’t know you exist; you can reach them.

People buy things (or develop loyalty to a nonprofit)  for a reason.  Your organization may help them reach personal goals, fill desires, make their lives better or solve problems. It is critical to know which needs you fill.

Even volunteers and donors have motives you might not easily recognize; they may be entirely altruistic, they may want to be part of something meaningful or to satisfy community service requirements. 

Myth # 4.  Marketing? But We Don’t Sell Anything?

Again, yes you do! In fact, you need to market to your board and financial backers, the users of your service, and those who can help by volunteering.

If you don’t reach people with your story- of needs and success- you will miss the chance to connect.  You have the ingredients that most businesses yearn for; a compelling mission,  changed lives, and a story to tell. Make the most of them.

Myth # 5.  We Don’t Have Time or Money to Spend on a Website.

When a person visits your website she has questions.

  • What you do and who you do it for?
  • Where does your money come from and what are your expenses?
  • Do you have a strategic plan to accomplish your mission?
  • How can I donate or become involved as a volunteer?
  • Who is on your board of directors?
  • What are your successes?
  • Is there social proof or testimonials?

I visited ten websites of nonprofit groups near Austin, Texas. Wow! There are plenty of great, committed people doing inspiring things.

Only a few of them answered most of my questions and moved me to become involved.

My favorites included TreeFolks. Their mission is wide-ranging, but I could tell what they do- community building, reforestation, education, and growing the urban forest.

Austin Pets Alive is also a winner. Their mission statement is clear.  “Austin Pets Alive! is not your average animal shelter. We maintain comprehensive, innovative programs designed to save the animals most at risk for euthanasia.”

The other organizations appeared to have worthwhile goals but left me with questions. You may only get one chance to gain a fan, so don’t lose the opportunity to connect.

In Conclusion

Boldly tell your board that marketing is an essential part of your mission and worth investing time and money. Don’t let these common myths erode the success of your organization.

If I can help you with the written content you need, please ask.

Crossroads Chronicles offers reduced rates for 501c (3) nonprofits and we can do some pro bono jobs, as the schedule allows.