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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Not-for-profits: Do-gooders always looking for money


At a speech last week I did some word-association drills with a room full of nonprofit leaders, board members, funders and development officers.

First up: ‘Not-for-profit’

Word Associations: Do-gooders, charity, ‘looking for handouts’, untrustworthy, poor business, well-meaning, ‘always wanting money’.

Mind you, I was with a room full of people that classified themselves as nonprofit professionals. Someone in THAT room said ‘untrustworthy’… wow. I wasn’t looking for that one… but okay…

Obviously we’re big on words and framing – hence ‘For Impact’. This was the first time I let a room do an open-word-association on ‘not-for-profit’. I was hoping to make the point that you need a better message than, “We’re a not-for-profit.” I was hoping to illustrate that funders are largely unresponsive when they hear about untrustworthy, poor-business-running, do-gooders, always wanting money. I think that point was evident as was one more point – a new message is equally (if not more) important to those IN the third sector.

Something to think about – Be For Impact. Be about Saving Lives, Changing Lives and Impacting Lives. Be about a really cool business that’s transforming the community. Be about a movement that inspires the best and brightest to get on board.