It’s a big country and there’s a market for your ideas, for your passion. The thing might be to let others know what that is and not hide it for fear of offense.
There’s an old saying, “If they think you are ‘a bit too much,’ then they aren’t your people.” Whether it’s friendship you are seeking or donations for your nonprofit, finding your people is critical.
And it’s hard to find your people if you’re sitting on the fence.
You don’t need the support of everyone to be successful. And there are only a handful of those organizations anyway that have national appeal and haven’t really been given a label. The Red Cross, YMCA, Goodwill are charities that have transcended politics and people. And they raise billions of dollars each year.
But you don’t need billions of dollars to make a difference in your community. You could probably do it with one million. And to get one million, you just need to find 1,666 of your people and get them to donation $50 a month to your cause. And in that collection of like-minded individuals, you’ll find those with the means and motivation to give $1,000 and $10,000 gifts.
But will you stand out from the crowd?
It’s not easy to do these days with 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. competing for the same $500 billion in charitable giving.
Get your message out there and take a stand. You don’t need to try to offend anyone, it will happen naturally if you are doing your job. Someone won’t like it, no matter what it is.
But your people will be inspired if the full force of your vision is put forth.
And that inspiration is the goal of getting off the fence.
Very few people give repeatedly to organizations or causes that don’t inspire them at some level. And private donors can be bold in their giving choices; they don’t answer to a board of directors or stock holders.
They are looking for a passion project, something that turns their small donation into a big reality.
Most Americans won’t spend their work life purposely bettering their communities. Even though their labor, production, and taxes all contribute, most of us want to be involved in something bigger. And that’s why we give so generously as a country.
Tapping into that need is the job of every nonprofit marketing or development department. Stay away from taglines like, “The Human Fund: Money for People.” If you are going to spend your productive years fixing a problem, advocating for some group or teaching, it’s not a leap to think that others will find your mission compelling enough to support it.
Finding all your people is the difference between moderate success, great success, or no success. Finding them means standing out from the pack and that means being bold and even edgy knowing that your people will “get it” and everyone else who doesn’t can go and find their thing elsewhere.
Pushing back against “slacktivism” in 2013, UNICEF Sweden wrapped a campaign around the slogan “Likes Don’t Save Lives” against the people who think hitting a “like” button is equivalent to a donation. That had the potential problem of offending the very people who seemed to support their work. Ads boldly stated, “Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio.”
From the pages of the for-profit world, Nike began an ad campaign around controversial NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the trend of kneeling during the National Anthem to bring attention to social justice issues. It was very controversial with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” It surely lost Nike a lot of business in some quarters. But its stock was $65 a share at the launch of the campaign and twice that today. Obviously, Nike found its people and they approved.
Is your nonprofit inherently controversial? Few are. UNICEF certainly isn’t but it was able to garner massive media attention with their bold ad campaign that essentially asked their people to do more.
You can find something that you can do to be bold and stand out.
Remember, your people might need help finding you, but you’ll both be glad when they do.