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Digital Giving Expert
Posts: 791
Registered: ‎04-15-2011

The Mission Myth: Building Nonprofit Momentum through Better Business

Recently Jocelyn Harmon, Network for Good's own VP of Sales and Marketing, highlighted a new book that underscores the importance of applying business savvy to nonprofit marketing and management for real results. Here's Jocelyn's take on this insightful read...




The Mission Myth: Building Nonprofit Momentum Through Better Business draws on author Deirdre Maloney’s experience as Executive Director of the Colorado AIDS Project. The Mission Myth is her excellent attempt to show that it takes much more than passion (i.e. mission) to run a successful, thriving nonprofit. According to her, it takes passion and The Four Ms: Management, Money, Marketing and Measurement

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:

Your mission may inspire you to get up in the morning but it won't make you or your team a success!  Don't be fooled by the image of the charitable sector as a poster child for peace, love and happiness.  Running a nonprofit is running a business and it's really hard work. If you don't find a way to scale your passion through good leadership, efficient processes, stable funding and transparent policies you won't be in business for long. 

Be explicit (in your communication).  This is one of the best pieces of advice I've heard lately.  Be explicit, i.e. say what you mean and mean what you say.  This is so hard for many of us as nonprofit leaders.  We don't want to deal with hurt feelings. We long to be liked.  We're nice people. (We work for nonprofits after all!)  Unfortunately, it's not possible or reasonable to expect other people to read your mind (or mine).  To lessen the confusion, frustration and inefficiency at your nonprofit, strive to be clear, succinct and timely in your communication.

Fundraising is sales.  "When you, as part of your organization, engage in fundraising, you engage in sales.  Good sales.  The money you bring in goes toward a cause that matters. You need to understand and embrace this.  If you are unwilling to believe your job is sales, if you think this is an organic process, one where the prospects merely need to hear about your great work and will hand over their hard-earned money, you are kidding yourself."  Amen!


Whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or new to the sector, Maloney's honest and practical advice on getting real about fundraising, enhancing your communication and using data to make better decisions will help you to mitigate your own managerial mistakes and find true success as a nonprofit. Thanks to Dierdre for a solid book that will help us all to do good well!


Love this topic and want to hear more? Dierdre Maloney has signed on to host one of our free Nonprofit 911 webinars in early May. Be the first to find out how to register for this event by adding your name to the invitation list.