Often it’s gossipy things like, “Did you hear how much so-and-so raised at their gala?” Or, “I don’t understand how they’re doing so well when we have x, y, and z.”
During these conversations the participants are invariably comparing the wrong things. Things like how many auction items they had, who their auctioneer was, or whether the richest people in town were in attendance.
But, what is invisible is hardest to compare.
From outside of an organization you can’t see:
- How many hours they put into planning their event
- Their dedicated development team
- What their donor outreach looks like
Constant comparison is crippling for many nonprofits - and let’s face it, for life in general. It leads to copycat behavior and jealousy.
Here’s an example of this phenomena that is local to me.
If you know Wine Women & Shoes, you know that these events are incredibly successful franchise fundraisers. Every year where I live there are dozens of knock-off events run by people trying to recreate the magic of Wine Women & Shoes without the proper ingredients.
These events are so obviously knock-offs (even maintaining the distinctive naming scheme) that it is physically uncomfortable. The nonprofits that organize these events are clearly attempting to recreate the success of these wildly popular fundraisers, but they are failing to create a unique and meaningful experience for their donors.
My advice to nonprofits everywhere is: Keep your head down, stay in your lane, and work on creating memorable experiences that resonate with your donors. Do the work required (and it is work!) to connect your donors to your mission and you will find the success you’re looking for.
Or better yet, get in touch with other nonprofits in your area that are doing work similar to you. If your nonprofit focuses on job training for the homeless community, perhaps there’s a collaboration opportunity with a nonprofit that focuses on feeding or housing the homeless. Brainstorm ways you can collaborate to increase the reach of your organizations. By focusing on what you can do together, rather than what the other group is doing, you and your team will begin to approach the issues from a place of positivity rather than negativity.
Bringing related organizations together allows you to form a partnership that benefits both nonprofits. Your combined resources will benefit the community far more than petty jealousies and in-fighting. After all, isn’t that why we’re in this business?