Take Off Your Nonprofit Hat This Holiday Season

Picture by gia_s
12.05.2011By

Picture by gia_s

Take off your nonprofit hat. (Off, take it off.) You’re just plain ol’ Jane or Jim, mother or father, wife or husband, daughter or son, or friend.

You’ve got groceries to buy, bills to pay, people to see, and stuff to do. Outside of the office, you’re like every other person with the same worries, long to-do list, and lack of time.

So tonight, you’re making a quick run to the grocery store. On your way in, you see the random Salvation Army guy ringing his bell, standing next to his bucket. You may or may not have change in your pockets to give, and you may or may not walk all the way over to him—depending on the time you have—so you don’t think twice about it. “I’ll catch him next time,” you think, and that’s that.

But what if random Salvation Army guy was Jack, a guy who you know personally somehow.

Well, if you like Jack, it would be different. You’ll go out of your way to see him, even if it was for a quick hello, right? And of course you’d pitch some money in the bucket because you like Jack, and you like how he believes in that cause. You make time for the things you like.

Now, put your nonprofit hat back on.

You can’t expect your supporters to react differently than you would in this scenario. I was at fault with this when I worked at a nonprofit. I’d think to myself, “The work we do is amazing! So why isn’t everyone flooding our inbox to be part of it?”

It took me a while to realize that the work we did didn’t speak for itself. It was great work, don’t get me wrong, but the world we live in is overwhelmed with information . . . more than there is time to take it all in. But because I worked day and night for the cause, I made the mistake of thinking that everyone else was in the same state of mind.

And obviously, I was totally wrong.

If they don’t really know me, like me, or have a personal connection with me, then how could I expect people to do anything for me if I never did anything for them?

It’s hard to stand out from the noise, especially during the holidays, but because most organizations don’t take the time to get to know people, you have an advantage.

When your supporters get to know you and grow to like you, then your possibilities grow. But to get there, you need to take the time and be yourself (without your nonprofit hat) and see how you can give back to your supporters so they can give to you when you need them. (Check out Tip #3 in this list by DoJiggy.)

Have you ever felt the same way? What are your thoughts?