NCNCF Nonprofit Center

Cultivating Support, Growth & Community Awareness
For Nonprofit Organizations

Overcoming the myths about Nonprofits

November 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm

by Tiffany Manning and Kari Brill

It’s time to face reality and stop buying into myths plaguing nonprofit organizations. As a nonprofit professional, you are most likely experiencing immense challenges on multiple organizational levels from fundraising to program development. One way to combat these challenges is live by the truths of nonprofits; not the myths. Read on to face the truth.

 Myth 1: A high percentage of a donation should go towards your programs and services

Truth: Nonprofit organizations are made up of the same services as businesses. The difference is nonprofits do not make a profit to pay for staff, technologies, research, etc. Let your funders know that without qualified staff and administrative functions the organization would not succeed. Everything, including overhead costs, contributes to making the organization better, stronger and more effective.

Myth 2: Nonprofits can do more with less money and still be successful 

Truth: “Something is NOT better than nothing” because the truth is you need the amount you are requesting from a donor. Nonprofits have the stress of distributing funds between programming, materials, administrative costs and more. Politely and gently explain all of these costs to your supporters and ask them to make a more generous donation. If they cannot afford it on their own, encourage them to co-invest with fellow funders or ask their employer to match the donation.

Myth 3: Nonprofits can start a new program or service that does not align with its mission or strategy

Truth: If a donor is offering a fat check in exchange for a program that steers far away from your goals, reject it. No amount of money is worth losing your values.

Myth 4: A nonprofit organization can grow without additional staff or other resources

Truth: Nonprofit organizations have a history of doing more with less, but it is time to end this trend. Be honest with your funders, let them know when the organization has reached its capacity because eventually programming will begin to suffer and donors will receive less for their investment.

Myth 5: 100 percent of your board members are committed to your organization

Truth: Every organization would like to believe that every board member is dedicated and committed 100 percent but the sad reality is that is usually not true. Telling your funders the naked truth about your organization will make them feel specially connected to your organizations and its board members. Explain to them that you analyze each individual’s contributions – financial, time and intellect – and have a clear plan for slackers.

It will take a collective effort of nonprofit professionals and board members alike to overcome these myths. Organizations like the Nonprofit Center and Social Velocity are here to help you start seeking the truth.

 This blog post was inspired by a webinar written by Nell Edgington, president of Social Velocity.
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