An interesting notion is the concept that nonprofits are in competition with one another – just like any other for-profit company…
“Well…” – you may be thinking – “there are a limited number of people willing to donate and when they do, they typically donate to a select few organizations, so if I don’t snatch them, someone else will!”
If this is your line of thinking, we’d like to shift your perspective a little bit… okay, a lot a bit.
It’s true that people who donate typically do so for a limited number of causes, however, there are NOT a limited number of donors out there. There are people who give more readily than others, but anyone can become a donor – whether they only donate once or do so repeatedly!
As a nonprofit administrator, your focus should always revolve around the passion for your mission. There are many people out there who already resonate with what your cause is all about, but they need to know you exist and see how passionate you are about your mission – otherwise, what’s the incentive for them to donate to you?
Being passionate about your nonprofit’s mission requires putting in the effort necessary to reach your goals. And we’re here to tell you that this should definitely include collaborating – on some level – with other nonprofit organizations for the following reasons . . .
1. Increased Exposure to Tools & Resources
There are so many tools and resources available for nonprofits today, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear from a fellow nonprofit which ones have or haven’t worked for them? Customer reviews are helpful, but not always available, and not nearly as valuable as what you can glean from others’ first-hand experience.
Learning how to use new tools also becomes easier when you have access to the expertise of others within the nonprofit sector who are more than willing to help you out! All too often, nonprofit administrators will avoid taking on new tools or will not succeed at using a new tool after acquiring it because they don’t know how to use it, don’t have time to get help, and/or don’t know anyone who can help them.
Even if your nonprofit peers don’t know how to use a new tool that you’re interested in, they can help inform your decision and possibly try out the tool along with you – so you can motivate each other during the learning process!
2. Increased Credibility & Public Exposure
When people see that you’re associated with other organizations, it helps validate who you are in relationship to others within your community. It can also help solidify your staying power by showing that you have a support system beyond the confines of your organization.
You probably have a plan in place to help expose your organization to more potential donors, but joining forces with other nonprofits can only amplify your efforts! You should be sharing your outreach ideas – what’s worked and what hasn’t, new plans of action, and any other success stories and strategies.
This doesn’t mean exchanging your donors’ information with other nonprofits – this would probably be counterproductive and potentially drive these donors away. The point is to understand that sharing your successful strategies and ideas with other nonprofits isn’t going to decrease your personal donor base, especially if you’re exchanging great ideas, so both parties are of benefit!
3. Increased Passion for Your Cause
After being exposed to more successful outreach and fundraising strategies and implementing them – you still need to bring on the passion! Remember, no one will care about your mission if you don’t.
There are many ways to show that you care and they shouldn’t be news to you – such as having an active online presence that’s informative, up-to-date and full of energy, urgency (i.e., passion!), along with showing heart-felt appreciation to your supporters and holding events and campaigns that resonate with both them AND your mission.
4. Leading by Example
Getting involved with other nonprofits shows that you’re passionate about your cause to the extent that you’ll do whatever it takes to survive and thrive in your community.
You’re exchanging valuable resources (knowledge, experience, etc.) with other nonprofits when you collaborate with them, which is the same reciprocity expected from your supporters; they give to you, trusting that you’re giving back to the community in a way that they care about.
In the nonprofit world, giving, receiving, sharing, and team work (i.e., caring!) are the primary characteristics that help attract supporters in the first place. The more you collaborate with others in the areas that are most beneficial to all involved, the more successful you’ll be!
And if you’re worried about the potential of depleting your own resources, keep this ancient piece of wisdom in mind: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness (or in this case knowledge) never decreases by being shared.”