Since many organizations are preparing for or are in the midst of their annual giving campaigns, it may be helpful to understand how nonprofits are viewed by the general public. While you may know that your organization is resourceful and stretches every dollar to get the most “bang for the buck,” you must battle the perceptions held by many in our society.
According to a recent study, just 13% of those interviewed said that charities do a very good job of spending money wisely; however, 25% said they do a good job helping people and 18% said they do a very good job of running programs and services. The people who gave nonprofits low marks for spending wisely indicated that they felt salaries and administrative costs were unwise spending. Others felt that advertising was an unwise expense.
Interestingly, the survey also broke down the results of the study by demographics. Women had more confidence in nonprofits than did men; college graduates had more confidence than those without college. Younger people were more positive than older people-65% of those between 18 and 29 years old had a great deal of confidence in charities while 54% of those age 65 and older did.
So, what does this study mean for your nonprofit?
First, the study tells us that nonprofits are not doing a good job of “tooting their own horn.” In many areas, I find that nonprofits are really the best kept secrets of the community. Unfortunately, this often means that only those individuals accessing the services provided by the organization are aware of what they provide. Nonprofits can do well to develop a public relations educational campaign. The goal of the campaign will be to get the organization in front of as many people as possible. This can be done relatively inexpensively. Write a regular blog. Your blog post can be posted on your website as well as on your social media outlets. Focus on the accomplishments of the organization, who you serve and perhaps even the challenges the organization faces.
Attend networking events including those hosted by Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, etc. By attending and developing relationships with individuals who are members of these groups, relationships can be developed that provide you with an opportunity to share exactly what the organization is doing in the community. Offer to be a guest speaker…these groups are often looking for speakers for their events.
Develop low-cost outreach efforts to the broader community. Think about those efforts that can reach the greatest number of people. This might include taking out space on a bill board or using targeted Facebook ads.
Second, make an effort to talk about the money that comes into and out of the organization. Many organizations never talk about money except for the money that they don’t have. Instead, share what you have accomplished with the limited money you have had. How many people have you served? How much does it cost you per person to provide the services you provide? For instance, if a program costs $100,000 annually and you serve 100 people per year, the cost per person is $1,000 annually. Then you have an opportunity to talk about the services that you were able to provide for that amount. Above all, don’t be afraid to talk about money.
Third, the study reveals that younger people have confidence in nonprofits. It is going to be important to keep this confidence, so organizations will need to find ways to stay connected with young people, throughout their lives. While they may not have the financial capacity to give significant amounts right now, they have many years ahead of them. On the other hand, older individuals often have more discretionary dollars available to them and have a greater capacity to give to nonprofits. Find meaningful ways to connect with these individuals….generally speaking, technology is not the way to connect with older individuals.
Nonprofits and ministries usually do many things within the community that are never measured or tracked; and quite often, these things represent some of the most important work being done. Share these intrinsic actions with those in your community. If you never share them, no one will ever know who does them.
How can we help you become more recognized and valued in your community? Send us an email, we can help you put a plan into place.