Would YOU give to you? Five tough questions to ask yourself

Pretend that you're outside of your nonprofit, looking in. As a prospective donor or volunteer, do you like what you see? Here are five questions to ask yourself honestly:

1. Do you understand the mission--is it easy to comprehend based on the nonprofit's website/materials?

2. Does the community seem engaged with this organization? Are friends or colleagues involved? Do they attend or volunteer at the nonprofit's events? Do they help fundraise? Have they "liked" the nonprofit's Facebook page and do they follow the org on Twitter?

3. Is there a track record of giving? When you visit the org's website or review their form 990 on Guidestar, can you easily locate a list of donors--or, more generally, how much the nonprofit raised last year in charity and grants?

4. Is the nonprofit responsive? If you were to call, email or FB message this group, how long would it take you to receive a response? Would that response be helpful, informative and courteous, or would it be rushed?

5. Does the nonprofit's work excite you? Do they talk about their efforts in a way that makes you feel inspired? Do you see pictures online that illustrate the good work they do and the people they serve?

If you can answer "yes" to all five questions, your nonprofit is doing great! However, I suspect that many organizations would not get a perfect score--not because they aren't doing excellent things, but because they may face more work in how they convey their mission to the outside world. Online presence (website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), elevator speech, customer service and presenting a consistent and easily understandable brand are critical if the rest of the world is to see just how wonderful your nonprofit is.

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