Non Profit Success Principles

Posted by on September 29, 2008 in Business Management, Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

Many Non-profit organizations enact in an egregious manner. It perplexes me that non-profit organizations believe that there is a significant difference in performance, reporting and business methodology. This myth is not only untrue and must cease. Fact, Non-profit organizations require bureaucracy, goals and accountability. More importantly non-profits must always be marketing.

While reading a national periodical I read that a fairly prominent non-profit was preparing to cut as much as one-third of its headquarters staff, up to 1,000 employees, and pare regional management due to fundraising issues. Is this a lack of money, or simply a lack of selling and a lack of accountability? I am often intrigued when management cuts staff to raise profits and even more concerned when issues arise because organizations fail to remain committed to its only rational goals- retain and gain clients.

Organizations and their managers emulate children; they will find an excuse for anything. The real issue is accountability. Some non-profits fail miserably at marketing and sales. Recent research for this article indicates that many non-profits focus attention on operations rather than an outward focus.

Currently, examples of fund raising efforts involve galas and unfortunately notoriety following a disaster. Most organizations are staffed with volunteers uneducated in closing sponsors and requesting money. The means to an end for many organizations is to implement a professional selling force that is 1) hungry in the hunt and enjoys searching for dollars in precarious places, 2) enjoys networking to uncover possible donations and 3) will not hesitate to ask for the business.

Secondly, many firms believe that internal training augments large spending. Not true. From over 25 years with clients around the globe I typically get calls from organizations to conduct training for two vital reasons, 1) there is a bias within the organization that disavows market trends. 2) Organizations fail to provide proper motivational and productivity tools that create a competitive sales force. Managers are not well versed in compensation, goal matrices etc. Sales people are driven by proper goals and compensation. 3) There is a systematic approach to selling and many internal trainers use books and tapes rather than practical experience. Sales take longer to close and professionals as well as executives get frustrated with lagging revenue. 4) Internal training is myopic. In recent research 76% of firms that internally train do so once per year, then speculate why production and profits fail. 5) People go into sales because they hunger for money and the thrill of the hunt, non-profits tend to instruct service and fail to create the panacea. 6) Internal training fails in how to close business.

Finally, there is a horrendous disconnection between, clients, staff and at times boards of directors concerning marketing intentions. On a recent journey to train a non-profit there existed a variety of interpretations with the firm’s marketing message. Staff and executives could not agree on the external message to clients. Worse yet many staff were unclear why the organization existed. It is imperative for organization to develop a solid value proposition. A pithy statement focusing on output and client values transcends purpose for staff and focus for clients and donors. An example statement- “Transforming lives on the road to independence”. With all working in concert the organization operates with a joint purpose. All staff are then involved in the selling process. The outward focused message creates interest and conversation while illustrating how sponsorship is utilized.

Clearly not all non-profits are dysfunctional and many do not have these issues. Yet many do and fail to realize that success hinges upon the ability to raise funds- continually. Rather than use perfunctory fundraising methods, organizations should use methods employed by for profit institutions. With changes in market conditions and the economy specifically, donations become slimmer and competition increases. Currently, 850,455 public charities and 104,276 private foundations are registered with the IRS. (Source: The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Business Master File 01/06) In addition, 463,714 other types of nonprofit organizations, such as chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues, are registered with the IRS. (Source: The Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Business Master File 01/06) This creates a highly competitive enviornment with many organizations vying for similar dollars. Even for non-profits the world flatten with globalization and competition requiring a thirst for differentiation.

©2008 Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.

About Drew Stevens PhD

Drew Stevens PhD is known as the Sales Strategist. Drew assists organizations to dramatically accelerate business growth. He is the author of seven books including Split Second Selling and Split Second Customer Service and Little Book of Hope and is frequently called on the media for his expertise. Drew was recently nominated as one of 50 Top Sales Experts. Download a FREE copy of Drew’s White Paper on “Selling Effectiveness” or “Business Building” e-book at

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