Nonprofits are all about selling

When I think of the motivators considered to be the driving forces and characteristics of the stereotypical Saleswoman/man, what first comes to mind is: Money.

In other words, Provision: the ability to influence the numbers on your paycheck. Which promotes a competitive mindset as well as “Walking over bodies to get the deal” and “every man for himself” mentality.

The driving forces for the stereotypical Nonprofit professional would then sound like the complete opposite: Mission. Really meaning: You don't get paid.

Teamspirit is vital, uniting and feeling committed to the mission is absolutely essential for a Nonprofit. Asking for people to give you things - often with “nothing” to offer in return, which means there is really no “deal”.

So how does Sales have anything to do with Nonprofit organizations?

In “To sell is Human” by David Pink, Mr Pink is writing from the thesis that everybody is selling something, and that requiring skills in sales is beneficial for everyone, whether you are pursuing a career in sales or not. And from that perspective Nonprofits are ALL ABOUT selling.

As a representative for my organization, even though I am not trying to sell you a product or a service in the traditional sense, I am trying to persuade you to partake with your time and/ or your money in our mission. Without good salesmanship, Nonprofit professionals can’t learn how to better persuade others of the value of their organizations, nor of the change or value their organizations wants to create.

As a Business Development Coordinator I get to design initiatives based on the needs identified in the conversations with our members and present them to our ED, Committees and Board.

As a Fundraiser I am selling my mission to donors and foundations and pitching the initiatives of my organization to sponsors for funding our events and projects.

Simon Sinek says in his famous talk about the golden circle “ People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Having nothing to sell but the commitment and belief in the mission of your organization I think is a very valuable lesson for anyone in Sales.