The challenge every nonprofit faces

Chris Esh


Reposted Feb 17, 2023

My work tends to be split evenly between nonprofits and small businesses. Both of these are fundamentally the same in a lot of ways when it comes to things like marketing, websites, and an online presence. Both are trying to connect with their audience, build trust, and retain followers who will support them in their mission–whatever their mission may be.

That being said, there is one big fundamental way in which they’re different. Businesses make their money from the people they are helping. For example, I provide a service to clients, and the clients pay me money in return. The people I help are the ones who support me monetarily and are the ones who keep my lights on.

However, nonprofits are often working with two different groups –the people funding their work, whether that’s individual donors or foundations or governments, and the people benefiting from their work. In some cases, the gap between the goal of helping those two groups of people can cause serious problems. Sometimes, it forces nonprofits to go after the money at the expense of the people they’re trying to help.

I worked in nonprofits for several years before starting my company. At least a few of these led to quite a bit of disillusionment. Particularly, after it became apparent that they were so dependent on keeping funders happy that they sometimes had to sacrifice what we all thought would have been the best way to serve the people that we were initially set up to help. However, this is the reality of nonprofits.  It’s not something you can completely get away from, although there are some ways to mitigate the pain of this discrepancy.

How to Face These Issues As A Nonprofit

First, be crystal clear in your mission, and trust that the people who believe in this mission will find you and stick around to support you. The smaller this niche is, the better this will work.

Second, resist the temptation to chase trends if they require you to water down your mission to find these funds. Keep your mission at the forefront first and foremost. Unless the trend truly and authentically helps you amplify your mission, then it’s probably best to skip it.

And third, focus on getting better instead of getting bigger.

This approach may require you to sacrifice potential funding opportunities. But if it means that you can consistently stick to your mission and if your real supporters can continue to see you as the most genuine organization in your field, I believe that is the path to long-term sustainable success.

In short, the closer you can keep your supporters to your beneficiaries in terms of the vision for what you’re doing, the better your nonprofit will be in the long run.

Don’t like reading? Check out the video version here:


Join our email list!

Tips and tricks to bring your marketing inline with your values, delivered to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.