Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are most nonprofits paralyzed in fear?

Marketing expert Seth Godin has a wonderful post today, specifically discussing non profits, "The problem with non".

Here are some excerpts:

"Non as in non-profit.
"The first issue is the way you describe yourself. I know what you’re not but what are you?
"Did you start or join this non-profit because of the non part? I doubt it. It's because you want to make change. The way the world is just isn't right or good enough for you... there's an emergency or an injustice or an opportunity and you want to make change.
"These organizations exist solely to make change. That's why you joined, isn't it?
"The problem facing your group, ironically, is the resistance to the very thing you are setting out to do. Non-profits, in my experience, abhor change.

"...If you spend any time reading marketing blogs, you'll find thousands of case studies of small (and large) innovative businesses that are shaking things up and making things happen. And not enough of these stories are about non-profits. If your non-profit isn't acting with as much energy and guts as it takes to get funded in Silicon Valley or featured on Digg, then you're failing in your duty to make change.
"The marketing world has changed completely. So has the environment for philanthropic giving. So have the attitudes of a new generation of philanthropists. But if you look at the biggest charities in the country, you couldn't tell. Because they're 'non' first, change second...."

There's a lively discussion about the post in today's Chronicle of Philanthropy "Give and Take", mostly defending non-profit use of social media. I posted the following comment:

The focus on social media is mistaken; that is one example Seth uses to make his larger point: “If your non-profit isn’t acting with as much energy and guts as it takes to get funded in Silicon Valley or featured on Digg, then you’re failing in your duty to make change.”
This is why the concepts of social entrepreneurship and social innovation are eclipsing the non profit sector, in terms of attractiveness to highly creative, risk-taking folk; the former appear to put equal emphasis on both “mission” and “driven”.

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