Is your non-profit borrrrrring???


My new friend Rebecca Saltman (@OpenDoors4U on Twitter) had a really great point during our conversation the other day; she said that where non-profits fall short is the ability to effectively share their story. They don’t do a good job of sharing the story of who they are, why they came to be, and where they’re headed. They talk a lot about whom they help, but they don’t talk enough about WHY they help those particular beneficiaries. In short, they don’t show their PERSONALITY.

Whether you’re a non-profit or a brand, my question to you is: “What is your personality?” That’s where to start. Once you break it down to the basics, once you figure out what you’re TRULY all about, then we can talk about how to effectively share that personality via social media channels.

Get out a piece of paper and answer the five questions below. Take your time with them and really think deeply about your answers. If you’re not the founder of the company/organization, get in touch with them and do this together. It’s really important that the personality you portray is that of the one who is most passionate about the organization and the most enthusiastic about what the organization is all about.

1)   What are you intrinsically great at?

Not what you have learned along the way, but what is it that you’re able to do naturally without having to think about it? For example, I am great at pushing people to their next level. People come to me when they’re stuck, and I (naturally) just know how to push them past their rut. It just comes to me without having to think about it, as if I always knew the answer.

2)   What would you be doing right now if money didn’t exist?

You can think of it as if you had all the money in the world, but I like to just take money completely out of the equation, as if it never existed. Seriously, where would you be and what would you be doing?

3)   What gets you really upset?

Not when your car gets keyed or someone calls you fat, I mean REALLY upset. For me, it’s injustice. I can’t stand racist remarks, people with insecurities putting other people down, or any other form of people being unjustly mistreated. It gets to me at my core. What gets to you at your core?

4)   What makes you smile like you’ve never smiled before?

You know what I mean, that smile that somehow comes from within your gut and your heart and fills your soul. For me it’s when I see children laugh with their full out belly laughs. It’s pure happiness. They don’t care what people think and I absolutely love it! I can’t help but laugh myself when I see it, you know?

5)   If you had 45 seconds to live, what message would you leave for humanity?

Get out a timer and set it for 45 seconds. Take a few deep breaths and clear your mind. Imagine being in a small airplane that is going down and you know there’s no chance of survival. There are no redo’s here, just one chance. It’s best if you don’t cheat, just 45 seconds on the timer and that’s it. Really try to put yourself in the situation in order to get to the depths of what your message to the world would be. Other than telling your loved ones how you feel about them, what would you tell the rest of humanity?

This exercise (answering the 5 questions), if done correctly, will have given you a deeper look into who you truly are and what sits at the base of your soul. This is the personality that you should be sharing with the employees within your organization, the volunteers that help it grow, the generous people who donate resources for it to continue with its mission, and the beneficiaries who gain from their donations. The sharing of your true personality and the sharing of your story will take your organization to the next level.


6 Responses to “Is your non-profit borrrrrring???”

  1. Sandra Rivas
    February 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article. This article can be applied to almost any aspect in life. It is a good way to find direction and purpose in life. When I answered these questions, my answers served as foundation topics to help me mold what I truly want to do. One of my lifetime goals is to start a non-profit organization and help the community by providing resources and awareness of higher education opportunities. However, the direction I was heading towards was to “ONLY” focus on the kids and create marketing strategies that revolve around my purpose. I never really thought about marketing myself first and describing “my personal passion.” These questions simply helped me refocus and value how I do have control and I can make a difference.

    • jeffreyfriend
      February 8, 2011 at 2:26 am #

      That’s great Sandra! Once you set your destination you’ll be shocked at how everything unfolds. Some things go as planned, others are better than planned, and yet others are not as planned – but all in all everything works out as long as you stick with that destination. There’s a great quote that I’m going to completely mess up, but it goes something like this: “Without a destination, no wind is the right wind.”

  2. RewriteBeautiful
    March 5, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Sounds like somebody read Good to Great. Great blog. I am proud to say the non-profit I work with ISN’T boring in any aspect. However, I was talking to a couple of friends last night who work for a non-profit in India. A huge frustration they have is keeping American donors happy with updated blogs, pictures, facebook statuses etc… Today’s media age expects non-profits to be on the up and up with graphics and media however, funding doesn’t support doing the actual work with the peaople AND having a media savy communications and arts department. So their cause suffers with money going to the non-profit who has sexier graphics. I don’t feel sorry for them. I think that’s just the condition of today, but I think a blog on that topic on what a small non-profit in their situation could do would be quite timely!

    • jeffreyfriend
      March 8, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Thank you for your comment!
      I agree, nonprofits have a tough time finding volunteers who know social media/marketing and are willing to put in the time and effort on a daily, or even weekly basis. I’m glad that you took the time to write this because it gives me some direction on where this blog, or at least some of the blog posts can go :-)

    • Scott Overpeck
      May 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

      I would challenge the notion that sexy graphics are what donors are looking for. They are looking for impact. It is the job of an organization to account for what they are doing with investors/donors funds. 

      This is the power of new tools like blogs and other ways to tell your story. Where once would have to host dozens of events to share a great story, today it can be shared in real time, then aggregated into one location and cut up for use in half a dozen mediums. Does this take skill? Absolutely. But if fundraising for your cause is not that important to you, can the cause really be that important to you? For smaller orgs they can outsource to companies who specialize in working with non profits. For larger organizations they can add talent to the development department. But to view keeping donors in the loop as a negative strikes me as hubris that would concern me as a donor, volunteer or board member. Storytelling is supplanting nearly all other forms of fund raising in nearly every medium. To miss that trend is to doom an organization.

      • Jeffrey Friend
        July 4, 2011 at 8:11 am #

        I completely agree Scott, thank you for your input! Nonprofits are always talking about how they don’t have the money to hire creatives and developers, but I don’t think they realize that they don’t need to pay that much. They can easily find an intern who has the skills they need, and if the intern isn’t free, they’re surely much cheaper than a professional.

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