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Dare to Differentiate

Do you spend time focusing on showing people that your organization is better, instead of different? At Rescigno’s we spend lots of time telling our clients not to brag about how great their nonprofit is. That tactic doesn’t work very well and results always bear it out.

I have no doubt that you and your staff work hard to meet the needs of those you serve—for example, implementing programs for those taking care of an ill loved one or giving kids living in poverty an opportunity to dream about what they can do if they stay in school. Maybe you inspire young people to become engineers, doctors, lawyers, you name it, and you motivate first-generation Americans to apply for college. These, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.

But what if I told you that none of the above matters?

What if I told you that what does matter is your donors?

What I’m suggesting to you is that instead of talking about how great your organization is, you should be talking about how great your donors are. You should be showing your donors that everything you do—the programs and the life that was changed because of the program and the brand new building that was just built to offer those programs in—is as a result of their generosity.

This may be hard to hear, but donors care very little about the number of tutors who spend hours with kids. What they do care about is if their gift has helped one child who has had to go to school hungry and tired because he or she works late to help mom pay the bills. They care that you tell them that the money they gave you instead of your competitor has been or is being used to address an issue they care about in a passionate or personal (or both) way.

And they really care and greatly appreciate when you invite them to see for themselves their support being put to good use. So don’t talk to them about statistics. It goes in one ear and out the other. This is where daring to differentiate comes in. Dare to stop mimicking what other nonprofits do. Talk about all the good work your donors make possible and tell stories about your beneficiaries and your mission to prove it.

I promise you that if you dare to be different in just this one way, you will build stronger bonds of trust with your constituents than you ever thought possible.

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