How to stand out amongst other nonprofits
We have a problem.
With a high degree of certainty, I’m confident that we share a common daily challenge: There’s so much critical work to do and not enough time to accomplish it all. As such, efficiency in our professional lives is a major issue that we’re constantly wrestling with.
As my fellow copious note taking and list making brethren will attest, while documenting and perpetually organizing, prioritizing and adding context to our thoughts can contribute to effective time management, it can also become sludge to productivity – especially if you work in a hybrid environment where digital platforms are primary for communicating with everyone but ourselves.
Case in point – my office is a graveyard of notebooks, spiral pads, post-its and folders of folders of papers filled to the brim with “mind gold” that I just can’t seem to retire or (gasp!) toss out.
MT, you say, aren’t you an early-adopting technophile who loves a great gadget? To which I respond, Indeed! Why then the trouble?
From laptops to iPads to mobile devices, there’s no shortage of products aimed at going digital with written notes. But here is where the effectiveness breaks down for me: my notation and thought capture processes don’t transfer well when I am just typing into digital devices. I scratch notes faster and include drawings and non-character notations, pictures and circles and scribbles that all have meaning – a shorthand developed over years.
So, I’ve remained chained to my legacy process with the inefficiency of engaging both my physical notes and digital files, and I spend hours each month transcribing, interpreting and cross referencing between them.
Thanks in part to some effective online target marketing, I stumbled across reMarkable 2, the self-proclaimed “world’s thinnest next-generation tablet.” It’s a device designed to replace physical notebooks and printed documents with a digital device that feels like writing on paper – and importantly – brings to the productivity table the many efficiencies of being integrated to the Internet, connected with Wi-Fi, and organized by folders, text and PDF document formats. It offers document templates, sends via email, and is backed up in the cloud. All the while, writing on the device tangibly feels and sounds like working on paper. You can even select preferences of pencils and pens, highlighters, calligraphy, erasing functionality, and it has full digital image manipulation.
One of reMarkable’s most compelling features is a really slick and robust conversion functionality that transcribes handwritten notes into digital text with shocking accuracy. It’s a snap to send notes, sketches or whole folders via email as text or as PDFs. The battery lasts days at a time without requiring recharge, and the unit itself weighs not much more than my mobile phone. In short, for me it’s the answer to my problem.
But this isn’t a product review and that’s not what I wanted to discuss with you today.
What’s more interesting has been the phenomena I’ve experienced since securing and using my reMarkable 2 tablet.
It’s nothing special to look at. It’s about the size of a standard book, less than ¼” thick and features a brushed aluminum finish. It looks like every other digital device. Heck, it’s not even brightly backlit, thanks to the fancy way it electromagnetically draws powder ink to the surface to display writing. However, whether in meetings, in airports or in planes, trains and automobiles, this little rectangle is a showstopper, like a shiny new red Ferrari amid a sea of primer gray ’85 Honda Accords.
Never before have I been asked as frequently and with such interested energy, “What IS that and how can I get one?!” On a plane recently, a passenger sitting a few rows away commented, “Man, I was mesmerized watching you fly on that thing. And it transcribes? And you email from it? And it captures your notes and sketches?” Other than being slightly creeped out by being observed at length, I was impressed by how clearly this otherwise ordinary looking device addresses not only my needs but solves the problems that so many of us mutually battle.
When I share the name of the product, reMarkable, I can almost see the lightbulb appear above the head of the inquirer.
And here I turn the corner for my encouragement for you today.
Why? What is so compelling about this product and what can we learn from this novel example in the world of representing our nonprofit organizations and securing MORE FUNDS?
It starts with identifying what is remarkable about the tablet. It’s a cool tool that saves time, fulfills its brand promise, is multi-featured and delivers a wholly unique user experience.
*More importantly* This product refused to be lost in the field of its peers. It does what other similar products do not. It stepped into a gap of functionality scope within its market, and it solves significant problems that widely exist for its community of customers and potential customers.
Said another way – it IS remarkable. And that – what is wholly unique and special, the problems it can solve is how the reMarkable team sets its value prospects apart from the sea of also-ran products.
We suffer similar challenges when trying to capture the attention and support of supporters of our mission. To many people, we look very similar to other nonprofits.
Our missions, similar. Our approach, similar. Our outcomes, similar.
All good, mind you – wonderful and life transforming, in fact. But without dedicated and focused strategy to communicate what is different – what is remarkable about who we are, what we do, the problems we solve and why donors should be part of this remarkable ministry – we’re leaving the breakout connection opportunity behind like scribbled notes deep in the margin of one of MT’s many dust-gathering notebooks.
Enough of what not to do, here’s what the reMarkable 2 experience is emphatically reminding us is vital TO DO when breaking through a crowded field and lobbying for fans and new, discerning “customers,” i.e., supporters of your ministry.
Focus our outreach communications and support appeals on how we:
- Solve current, compelling problems
- Make our case in a “Real Life” way
- Go and shout about it from the mountaintops, don’t hope and wait to be found
- Make non-obvious promises and fulfill them
- Be of quality and boldly charge (ask for more support, not less) accordingly
Remember! We believe in ABUNDANCE not SCARCITY. There are always ample supporters and resources (money) for REMARKABLE MINISTRY.
Don’t marginalize yourself or your ministry.
Don’t “undercharge” (be timid in the ask) for the value and impact you bring.
Don’t be just what they, the public in your community, might expect.
Express how much more can be accomplished if you’re properly equipped.
Believe you can change the game – because you can!
Don’t believe the hype that you should adopt a competitive position for resources with other nonprofit organizations or missions in your area that are also seeking support.
Where there’s need, there are resources.
Where there are questions, there are answers.
Where excellent servants pour themselves out – there are partners to refill them.
Be reMarkable and you’ll NEVER lack for support.
So write it down now. Convert it to text. And send it to everyone!