The nonprofit trap: More is more, so here’s even more

It is a cold reality that most nonprofit organizations feel a relentless pressure to raise funds. And when they’re not raising funds, they’re pursuing donations. Having worked in the nonprofit world for over twenty-five years, I have personally felt that pressure and all that is included in the perpetual need for finances and sufficient cashflow.

Unfortunately many nonprofits allow the pressure to dictate their communication processes. They feel that they may not get another chance with a prospective donor, so they want to get as much information in as they possibly can. Every newsletter is crammed full of as many stories or testimonials as is humanly possible. Web pages contain events, appeals, thanks, hopes, goals, reports, staff updates, biographical sketches, requests for volunteers, and anything else the organization wants to communicate to each reader. And that is frequently all on the same page!

Quite frankly, it’s far too easy for the reader, who is also the prospective donor, to get buried under the avalanche of information. The organization’s mission, purpose, and philosophy can easily get washed away in the flood of details, and the reader leaves not really knowing what the organization is hoping to accomplish … or why.

The best thing a nonprofit can do in communicating its purpose and process is to remember that most readers are initially interested in the “big picture”–the why and the how. The who, what, and when are important, but no internet browser wants ten minutes’ worth of reading on every page of a website.

Any nonprofit organization can improve its communications and effectiveness by reducing the text, focusing on its key points, and drawing the reader into its vision and purpose. This will create an interest that may often turn into action.

More isn’t always more; sometimes it’s just too much. It’s better to avoid the trap.


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