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The Beatles Guide to Becoming a Nonprofit Rock Star

By: Jessica Urgiles-- 2015-05-19 4:29 pm --

“I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

John Lennon famously said those words at the conclusion of The Beatles’ impromptu rooftop concert in 1969, which was the band’s final public performance. In less than a decade, they managed to change pop culture forever. The Beatles aren’t only one of the most legendary bands in history — their music is full of sage advice for nonprofit organizations. John, Paul, George and Ringo have a lot to teach us with their songs. Let’s break down some of their iconic lyrics to ensure your nonprofit passes the audition, too.


I get by with a little help from my friends.

The power of word-of-mouth marketing

In the nonprofit sector, supporters are everything. Not only are they your biggest advocates, but their passion for what you do is infectious. This tenacity can multiply tenfold as it attracts their like-minded friends to your organization. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing — it’s not nearly as hackneyed as it may seem. The level of dedication in supporters makes them a fundamental part of every nonprofit. Encourage the community you’ve built to tell their friends about your organization, which can result in more donations. And remember to show appreciation for your supporters because they are your organization’s best friends.


Take a sad song and make it better.

Learn to overcome obstacles

Inevitably, all nonprofits will face challenges. It’s critical to quickly examine what’s gone awry and find a way to overcome it. Perhaps donations were down, making it difficult to purchase outreach supplies. First, consider what could be preventing donors from giving to the organization. How are you requesting donations? People tend to be leery of providing their credit card information, regardless of how much they believe in a cause. Then, find a new solution. Online payment processors make it easy for people to donate safely on their own. PayPal even gives a generous discount to nonprofits. Lastly, counterbalance the financial loss by finding ways to save money until new donations are received. Buy outreach supplies from wholesalers to stretch every dollar. At DollarDays, we donate 5 percent of your purchase back to the nonprofit of your choice!


You say you got a real solution. Well, you know, we'd all love to see the plan.

Communicate clearly and concisely  

Whether it’s writing a mission statement or grant proposal, knowing how to communicate effectively is paramount. You have to prove that your nonprofit is as amazing as you know it is in a concise message that depicts what makes your organization different. Then you need to garner visibility for that message. While not every nonprofit can afford to hire a public relations professional, PR efforts must still be made. Cision, one of the largest PR and media database software companies, released a free 2015 Nonprofit PR Kit. The kit includes ideas on how to create content on a budget and an editorial calendar for nonprofit opportunities to help organizations lacking the funds for a PR department.


Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody.

Find the right volunteers

Any help is appreciated? Not always. As corporate social responsibility missions have overtaken corporate America in an attempt to recruit and retain millennial employees, nonprofits have been inundated with faux volunteers. The Boston Globe found that corporate volunteers can be a burden to some organizations as they feel forced to indulge them in what are essentially photo ops. It’s important to find volunteers that believe in your mission and are personally invested in its success. Even the most benevolent ones may not be a good fit. It’s okay to turn away someone if their strengths aren’t aligned with your needs. Don’t feel obligated to create projects for volunteers just to give them something to do — that’s not only a disservice to them, but to your nonprofit as well.


All you need is love.

Engagement trumps followers  

Social media is conversation on a global scale, but sometimes it can feel as if you’re talking to yourself. With Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms, it’s more important than ever to have a solid fan base that interacts with you. It's not enough to simply have a large number of followers if they aren’t liking and commenting on your posts. If your updates aren’t receiving much engagement, they will disappear into the black hole of Facebook. Focus on posting likable updates that will captivate your audience and make them want to like, retweet and repin your content. Gaining organic traction isn’t always easy, but it is possible with the right social media strategy.


What’s your favorite Beatles song?