Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nonprofits should give without trying to get

Nonprofits can learn from marketing guru Seth Godin's father who has been a successful manager and entrepreneur and he's always given without expecting in return.

In a recent blog post Godin notes that most companies and marketers give in order to get. The same can be said for nonprofits.

But I think nonprofits should give without expecting to get. In fact when I started Evergreen Leaders in 2003 I wanted the organization to adopt a policy of giving 10% of it's income away.

The attorney helping us to apply for our 501c3 was dubious that the IRS would approve such a plan. Our by-laws state clearly that we practice giving away 10% as a way of showing gratitude to God our Creator who we believe provides all we need. We also have a clause that says we'll give the money only to other 501c3s.

The IRS approved our 501c3 application.

Last fall I delivered a check to a charity for their capital campaign that the EGL board decided to give to. No organization that we have given to had ever used our services but it turns out that the organization had lost their campaign consultant in the middle of the campaign. They contracted with EGL to serve as their consultant for the remainder of the campaign.

Did we give to them to get?

No, we gave because we are grateful for a generous God.

As Seth concludes in his post, "Now, more than ever, it's easier to give even when it seems like you're not going to get. The happy irony is that this turns out to be a very effective marketing approach, even though that's not the point."

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