Nonprofits Competing for Funds: How to Stand Out (If Necessary)

We’ve all heard that we’re supposed to be the change we want to see in the world. Did Gandhi actually say that? It’s up for debate. Regardless, the concept is one we’re sure he could get behind.

But what happens when you decide to be the change, and Betty down the street also decides to be the change, and even Paul across town? That’s a great thing. There’s no such thing as ‘too much good.’ But if you all have the same idea and separate organizations, we’re raising a red flag against your efficiency toward reaching the mission.

If your organization needs to stand out, we can help you do that. But first, let’s make your organization more efficient. Then we’ll focus on getting your NPO to stand out in a world where you’re undoubtedly competing for donation dollars.

Establish a Need

As Inside Philanthropy’s David Callahan pointed out, “The nonprofit sector has too many small organizations that are just getting by, and too few big ones that can really solve problems.”

So this begs the question—does your mission have that special spark? You might be excited about the idea and the mission, but does it make sense to other people? Can you get them on board? And even then, is there somebody doing the same thing already?

There’s a simple solution. Just ask. Host a focus group. Ask your friends. See if anybody else has been talking in the world about your mission. And if you can’t find anything, see how many people you can get on board.

Pool Your Resources

With the right motives at your NPO, it shouldn’t matter how you’re achieving your mission. If you’re in the beginning stages, put your feelers out there and find organizations that have the same or similar missions. Contact them. Find out if you can somehow join forces to make a bigger and better organization. Even if your mission slightly differs, there might be room to maximize your impact. A little compromise can go a long way.

If you can find an organization doing it right but that isn’t close in proximity to your NPO, see what you can learn from them or how you can aid each other.

This Will Make You Stand Out

It seems straightforward, but there’s also an art to making your organization stand out. Now that you’ve established a need for your organization and looked into pooling your resources, it’s time to compete for those dollars. Unfortunately, that’s the reality when there are so many great NPOs out there asking for money.

It all comes down to how you reach out to donors. Telling your story the right way is incredibly important. If you want to get donors to give to your cause, you’ve got to identify with them. Strike an emotional chord. Use language and stories that they understand.

And if you’re still looking for a way to stand out with your fundraising, check out our Fundraising Boot Camp at Nonprofit Hub University.


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

January 20, 2015

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