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Have you ever found yourself in the position of having to justify advertising to your boss?

Have people ever looked at you sideways because you wanted to advertise in 4 newspapers, on the buses, on a billboard, on the subway, in a street banner, and on the radio and tv too?

Have people asked you, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you want to waste so much money that could be going to your cause?”

Common Misconception: Charities should not waste money on expensive advertising. It is money that could otherwise go to the needy.

When we discourage paid advertising, we are saying, “Our charity is not important enough to advertise.” Guess what, if you don’t advertise in the paper, on the radio, on TV, on the street, your competition will. And your competition is Coke, Nike, and Estee Lauder.

People spend their money on things that grab their attention. Coke says, “You’re thirsty.” Nike says, “You’re athletic.” Estee Lauder says, “You need makeup to look pretty.” And your nonprofit needs to say, “You want to help make the world a better place. Here’s where you do it.”

Advertising builds consumer demand. The more that charities are allowed to advertise, the better they can compete with consumer products for the consumer’s dollar, and the more money they can raise for the needy.

Does it make you angry that management is making it hard for you to raise money, hard for you to do your job? Are you frustrated that it’s your job to raise all of the money, yet you’re supposed to just make people hear about you by magic?

Say it quietly at first: “Advertising our nonprofit is not wasting money.”

Say it to your coworkers: “Advertising our nonprofit is not wasting money. This is how we get more donations and continue to do our work.”

Say it to everyone, shout it, “HEY! Advertising our nonprofit is not wasting money!”

Here’s an idea. Show your nonprofit boss how much success another nonprofit in your field is having, because they are advertising. Tell your boss you need to advertise your nonprofit, just to be heard.

Thank you to Dan Pallotta and his book Uncharitable, for helping me see that nonprofits need to have big advertising budgets to become more successful.

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