Beware of Veering Away from Mission

Superbowl Sunday.

The day when marketing and advertising people pop the popcorn and wait with baited breath for the annual lineup of new ads. Or in many cases now, skip the football and go straight to YouTube. Over water coolers and coffee pots, the ads are the Monday morning fare.

I like those ads. I do. But every year, I wonder the same thing ...

While these advertisers are busy entertaining us, what are they selling? Making me laugh is one thing ... getting me to pull out my wallet is another. Perhaps the added exposure is enough to remind people that "oh yeah, Oreos are really good." But does that always hold?

Nonprofits are often faced with a similar challenge in keeping the mission front and center.

Not long ago, Pepsi offered nonprofits a too-good-to-be-true chance to get a sizable grant for their nonprofits. It required nonprofits to go out to their base audiences to get "votes." Those who voted had to give Pepsi, you guessed it, their email address. In the end, a few lucky nonprofits walked away with a chunk of change, but the others had diverted attention, resources and eyeballs away from what they're all about.

Beware of any efforts or gimmicks that siphon attention from where it should be: your mission. The real goal should be in developing creative ways to highlight the work you do. The people who are attracted to shiny objects are far less likely to be your loyal, long-term donors.