We hear so much about nonprofit organizations. They’ve been around for a good while, but there seem to be more of them with every passing year. You can’t swing a stick without hitting a nonprofit devoted to something like ending child hunger or helping premature babies. If nonprofits want to stick around, they need to get the word out about what they do and why they do. In some cases, that is far easier said than done. For as much as we hear about nonprofits, we don’t always absorb the information or really understand what makes them different than a typical business.
What they do
“Non” means “not,” and so a nonprofit organization is one that exists without profits as their primary goal. That frees them up to advocate for a cause or particular view. That doesn’t mean it can’t make money, but the money will be used to help the cause rather than line the CEOs pocket. Don’t confuse nonprofits with not-for-profits, although it’s certainly a very easy thing to do. The names are deceptively similar. Nonprofits spend surplus money on the cause or view they’re promoting, while not-for-profits may return some of that money to its members.
Nonprofits can be religious in nature, but they don’t have to be. We’ve all seen organizations with names that refer to God or some other religious entity. Some places have a more overt sense of religiosity than others. Samaritan’s Purse is a good example of a religious nonprofit. The group is rooted in evangelical Christianity and sends shoe boxes full of gifts to children around the world every Christmas.
Tax exemptions and fundraising
One of the most critical parts of a nonprofit is its tax-exempt status. Charitable nonprofits must apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status, a process that can take a lot of time and energy. An organization that loses that status will probably have trouble staying viable. Nonprofits must also spend a lot of time worrying about fundraising. Name recognition is critical for any group that relies on raising money to fulfill its mission. Think about the mail you get every day. Some of that mail will be pleas from nonprofits to donate money to their cause. If you’ve heard of the group and consider it to be reputable, you’re way more likely to break out the checkbook. People are busy and don’t often want to research charities. They just want to be able to look at a return address and decide whether or not a group is legitimate.
In the internet era, that means marketing and development teams must look up digital marketing tips for nonprofits if they want to ensure that people are hearing whatever message they’re trying to send. Many people looking to work for such organizations don’t think they’ll need to know much about marketing, but it’s a critical part of the game. If you don’t have a traditional degree in the field, you may need to look into obtaining an online marketing degree from a place like Linfield College before you start submitting applications to your favorite nonprofit.
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