I read with interest recent comments by Bill Gates, formerly of Microsoft and noted philanthropist/founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Speaking at Concordia College's rededication of their Grant Center, Gates said: "The private sector has a certain discipline that comes from wanting to stay alive," adding that if companies make products people don't want, they will fail. "Philanthropy is dangerous because we don't have the same life-threatening problem."It's key for philanthropists to focus on areas that private markets "don't own for some reasons," or in which governments won't or can't be involved.
Those comments have me wondering if donors - especially institutional and major private donors evaluate a non-profit in this light: "Is this work already being done, and if so, what's the incremental impact that this organization has on the cause, disease or mission?"
It's a rare non-profit that truly has no competition, no other organization focused on the same cause. NPO leadership should be constantly evaluating the strength of their brand strategy in the light of ever-present competition for the same, limited dollar:
- Is your value proposition clearly articulated with the least amount of fluff?
- Does your message set you apart from other organizations - or are you saying the same thing they are?
Brands: they're not just for the enterprise any more.