Tuesday March 23rd 2010

Why “Raising Awareness” of Your Organization is Not a Strategic Goal


It is a common topic of discussion when I help an organization develop a strategic plan: how to raise awareness of the organization.  The assumption is that if only more people knew about them, then…well, what then?

The reality is that not everyone needs to know about your organization and the work that it does.  However, it is vital to the long-term viability of your organization that the right people know the right things about you.  Thus, my instructions to nonprofits engaged in strategic planning is to formulate specific responses to the following questions:

  1. Who do you want to know about you?
  2. What do you want them to know about you?
  3. What do you want them to do once they know this about you?

It is this last question that brings the issue home.  Awareness is but one part of an overall resource strategy.  In other words, if a group of individuals cannot contribute in a tangible way to the work of your organization, there is little value in having them know something about you.  That contribution could be in the form of time (as a volunteer tutor), talent (as a member of the board), or treasure (as a donor).

Through my work, I have become aware of many nonprofit organizations.  That, in and of itself, provides no benefit to any of them.