What's In A Name?

It’s the silly season again. Every few years, someone gets the bright idea that the problem with nonprofit organizations is the fact that we are called nonprofits (or not-for-profits) and that connotes some sort of negativity. So new names are bandied about, lots of words are put to blog postings and nothing changes. Nothing changes because it is a non-issue. The non or not for profit designation is just that—a way we are taxed, much as an S corporation or a C corp designates a for profit company. It’s not the naming of our type of organizations that needs to change—it’s the way we describe why we matter.

Instead of changing our designation, why not add a tag line: Nonprofits—Making a Difference. Or, Changing the World or Providing Opportunities for Everyone. Let’s be clear about what we do and why what we do matters.

We need to do this both on a broad, sector-wide scale and for each individual organization. We have to stop haranguing people about our cause, our clients, our needs and stop telling them about the ways we go about doing whatever it is we do. We must start showing them why what we do matters; how it changes lives, provides opportunities, creates healthier societies. We must be clear about why this matters and what changes because of the work we do.

We need to stop worrying about what we call ourselves and concern ourselves with how we tell our stories, share our successes, and show why we do, really, make an important difference.

Janet Levine works with nonprofits (and proudly so!), helping them to increase fundraising capacity and develop stronger, more committed boards.  Learn how she can help you to fundraise more effectively at www.janetlevineconsulting.com.  While there, sign up for the free newsletter.