Fri, February 01 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
I was having lunch with some of my favorite web designers the other day, and we got to talking about the scarcity mentality. They were especially irritated with unethical web designers that create websites that nonprofits can’t access themselves, so they could generate more business for their firms in perpetuity. They told the story of one nonprofit that hired them saying their last designer wouldn’t even give them high-resolution electronic files of the logo they’d designed—so the firm could charge the nonprofit each time it needed to do something with their logo. It had never occurred to that nonprofit to beware of that in their contract. While this made the firm money in the short term, the nonprofit was so irate they hired a new designer (my friends) and doubtlessly spread lots of bad word of mouth about that awful firm.
Hoarding, secrecy and a spirit of scarcity are not good strategies.
Then I saw this excellent point made by blogger Terri:
The non-profit universe is set up so that everyone must compete for the same money. This prevents a lot of networking, partnering and coalition-building. I think this is a shame. Just as it is possible for me to invite you over for dinner without giving you my house, it must be possible for agencies and others to connect and interact in ways that increase the visibility, credibility and effectiveness of everyone.
I love the dinner/house analogy, Terri. Well said.
In addition to funding fears curtailing collaboration in our sector, I see information-hoarding as another bad phenomenon. I’m appalled by some funders, nonprofits and companies that serve our sector refusing to freely share what they know and learn.
They don’t get that scarcity mentalities lead to more scarcity.
I believe in giving away everything you can, in sharing information freely and in collaborating openly with others. While this sounds scary in a competitive world, it actually gets you more resources at the end of the day. When you’re generous with others, they usually end up reciprocating. You get absolutely amazing word of mouth and massive amounts of goodwill. When you join forces with worthy partners, you usually get more visibility and resources for both parties. When you act with integrity, you get more business. Really.
I’m not saying there isn’t competition in this world. I’m saying how we react to it is critical to our success. We can fight over the same small patches of territory or we can try to band together for a bigger land grab. The rare disease organizations have done this with great success with federal funding. Newspapers have done this to great success, making online content free - they then get more traffic and therefore more ad revenue. Network for Good does this too with our Learning Center and free calls - we share everything we know about fundraising. And we’ve ended up with more nonprofits using our services, which has led to more revenue.
Generosity has an excellent ROI.
Parsimony pays back accordingly.