First things first: yes, morality and doing the right thing do come with a price tag more often than let’s say, working for companies with questionable, or worse: no corporate identity, buying mass-production items or raising your voice in the right moment to the wrong person. We all know this, have made our choices and dealt with the results…
However, feeling a moral taint when acting economically or opportunistic, doesn’t make us independent from the world outside.
The fact that we don’t usually make that much money and have to fight for every penny of it, doesn’t mean that a) is a good thing, b) is supposed to be that way, c) has to be that way.
Most of the lessons taught to prospective start-up owners can easily be applied to starting an NGO, business-models can be applied to running one and corporate leadership is still leadership. The fact of the matter is that NGOs ARE companies, just very social ones with a small profit-margin. So why is it, that when entering offices in companies there are usually shelves with books on management, branding and advertisement while in an NGO’s office, there are tourist-guides, language courses and books on mediation? (I’m exaggerating here for making the point’s sake.) Just because we avoided these topics in university/school and made it through by relying on chance, luck and other people’s good will, it doesn’t mean they are not important, the opposite is the case!
These things like branding and advertisement (“how to make a project sound sexy”), management and corporate identity (how to get the good people to work for me and stay/volunteer) are even more important, it might be argued. Our problem is that the one product we have can scarcely be measured in material/economic terms, so we better be good at selling it. Additional to that, especially in times of economic crisis, the sources of funding get fewer and thus competition (yes, THAT word) for them is getting fiercer with a lot of brilliant ideas and approaches for projects being sold to grant-giving organizations and institutions.
Living in the 21st century, there are lots of great tools, blogs and tutorials out there that can help you to deal with many challenges we face in NGO work on a daily basis. Check out the post Bunch of great nonprofit marketing and branding tips or Top 5 nonprofit bloggers to follow.
This Blogpost was originally written for and published by No Label Project