A characteristic that donors and supporters rank highest when considering contributing or joining a social causes is ‘authenticity‘. Individuals want to invest in the original, the trustworthy edition, the organization committed to meeting the needs of the cause with values that match their own. All of this sounds basic. But, how many enterprises deviate from being authentic by taking some of the following actions?

  • Adopting strategic plans that are full of unrealistic goals and lofty language
  • Creating a culture that makes patrons uneasy when they engage with the organization
  • Programs that are not consistent with the organization’s mission
  • Hiring an Executive Director or key personnel that do not embody the organization’s values
  • Accepting donations/grants from individuals or foundations that represent values that conflict with the nonprofit
  • Building a board with members who do not appear committed to the organization’s strengths
  • Launch a branding effort that looks nothing like the organization everyone has come to know

Would you prefer to visit the Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas or New York? Do you prefer to view the Declaration of Independence housed in the Archive Building in Washington, DC or a framed version hanging in your City Hall? Is your preference to meet your hero in person or take a picture with their facsimile at the wax museum? In which of these experiences would you be willing to invest more of your resources?

How do you remain authentic as an organization? Can you define it? Have you asked your supporters? How is it represented daily in your organization’s decision-making?

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