I'm in a very privileged position.
In my role consulting with organisations and supporting individuals working in organisations I get to see behind the scenes of hundreds of organisations every year.
In the last few months alone I've spoken with a new local community centre, one of the oldest nonprofits in the Ireland, a global mega org, a social enterprise working on consent and healthy relationships, churches, schools, circus companies and more.
I love it.
My innate curiosity (nosiness) means I'm genuinely interested in how different people go about their work, what structures they use, the skill sets of teams and of course the problems they face.
One of the most common phrases I hear from these organisations is:
"If only people could see the benefit of our work we'd have no problems getting support"
"If people could see whats really happening on the ground they'd be outraged"
"People just aren't interested in hearing about xyz"
or some similar version of the above.
My standard answer to these statements is this.
"Whose fault is it that they aren't interested?"
Answer? - Its yours.
I'm not trying to be mean or even flippant with this response. The truth is that for some reason many nonprofit organisations want to only address small parts of their role.
Imagine a Formula 1 team saying "All we need is a great driver to call us and say they'd like to drive our car and we'd win more races."
or Tesco saying. "We have amazing shops that sell great food we just need people to find out about us and they'll become customers"
If you're a homeless organisation
Why are you saying "We need money to provide services to our clients. If people could just hear about us we'd get the money?"
Too many organisation think they have a right bestowed on them to "just do the work" and that some other entity (government, media, general public) should just give them the money, support and publicity they need to do it.
This is your cause.
You have chosen to take on whatever issue your organisation focuses on.
Therefore it is your responsibility to:
Generate the money.
Build public interest.
.....Solve the problem.
For over a decade I've been asking individuals.
"Tell me about your organisation"
"What does your organisation do"
I'd be lying if I said more than 3 or 4 of those individuals were able to, in a clear, concise and engaging way, connect me to their cause and their work.
and I'm already interested in them.
This doesn't mean those individuals weren't outstanding in the roles or that the organisations weren't amazing.
Its just that we never stop to think how we present ourselves to others.
Here's a simple test.
Ask your granny, your child or your friend what your organisation does.
If somebody who cares about you and has a good sense of what you do finds it tricky to define your organisation, its importance and its work how well do you think others would do?
Answer these questions in way a child could understand:
Why is there a need for your organisation?
What does your organisation do?
What impact does this have?
What help do you need?
Now compare your answers to how you talk about your organisation on social media, your website, grant applications, printed materials and public appearances.
Which version is clearer, more concise and impactful?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.