Nonprofit vs. Non-profit: Does a hyphen make a difference?

Businessman tearing the word Nonprofit for ProfitEver wondered whether you should use “nonprofit” or “non-profit”? If you’re in the U.S. or Canada, the answer is: non-profit.

With the hyphen.

I confess I’ve never liked the hyphen in there. It looks clunky. Or sloppy. Or something. So I’ve been a long-time fan of the visually tidier “nonprofit”.

Boy oh boy, was I wrong. At least if my goal was to use a term that would make it as easy as possible for people wanting to market their non-profit to find their way to us here at Claxon. (In my defense, if visual tidiness was my goal, I would’ve been totally justified in eschewing the hyphen.)

Here’s the deal: Using Google Trends, we learn that people search for “non-profit” way more than they search for “nonprofits”. Adding that little hyphen ups your search engine results which, in turn, ups your odds of someone making their way to your website.

Now, what if you’re interested in attracting folks abroad? The hyphen/no-hyphen debate isn’t even relevant. That’s because in places like the U.K., they don’t use either “nonprofit” or “non-profit”. Nope. They use “charity”.

In the U.S., the word charity has a somewhat antiquated feel. It conjures up images of Oliver Twist asking in his most adorable little boy voice if he can please, sir, have some more. Charity connotes a hand out, rather than a hand up.

Not so in the U.K. They have charities. Lots and lots of charities!

So if you’re a U.S. organization or Canadian organisation wanting to grab the attention of donors in the U.K., charity is your term of choice.

This handy dandy chart shows which terms are used most often in each geography.

US Canada UK
Nonprofit 40 7 1
Non-profit 100 63 6
Charity 23 39 100

 

The graph below will reinforce that if you have a global audience, your hands-down winner is “charity”.

Nonprofit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease 69.3, Grade Level 6.4

Consistency isn’t boring!

Being consistent doesn’t mean being boring. In this short video, you’ll learn the two reasons you should nurture consistency, and hear about an organization that consistently hits the mark (Kaboom!) and one that had a consistency hiccup (Seattle Symphony).

 

“Top 5 Words to Avoid” Featured on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

Kivi Leroux Miller

Kivi Leroux Miller is one of the leading voices in DIY nonprofit marketing. Her blog, Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, is full of practical, do-now tips for do-gooders.

Two weeks ago on her main site, Kivi wrote a piece on the pitfalls of wordiness in messaging and how to fix lengthy writing habits. I got down in the word weeds with a guest post outlining the top five words to avoid in your messaging.

Learn why these words should be booted from your messaging vocabulary:

  • Provide
  • Just
  • Trying
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Thriving Communities

Pick the one you use too much and then take the One Less Word Challenge. How will you replace it?

The Inspiration Sector

It has always irked me that our sector is defined by what it is not, i.e. the ‘non’ profit sector. Even more irkesome is when you go back to the roots of the word profit, which Dan Pallotta does in his book Uncharitable, and realize ‘profit’ means ‘progress’. So we’re the non-progress sector. Hmmm.

Last time I checked, we were very much about progress. Progress on education, poverty eradication, sustainability, public health, the arts. You name it, we’re pretty much in it to make progress that will lead to a healthier planet with happier people living on it. It’s pretty audacious to think we can achieve this type of  progress given how challenging the issues are that we’re tackling. Like President Obama, we have the audacity of hope.

I think this type of audacity is inspiring.

Many alternatives to ‘non profit’ have been floated–third sector, social change sector, social sector. [And as Chanelle Carver pointed out in the comments below, there’s a logical extention of Hildy Gottlieb‘s concept of Community Benefit Organizations to Community Benefit Sector. Thanks Chanelle for making this connection!)

I’d like to add an alternative to the list: the Inspiration Sector. (And, if someone else has already floated this, then I’d like to second the submission!)

I realize it’d take time for us to adjust to an entirely new name and that there are pragmatic implications (think of all that web copy we’d need to update!), but I, for one, would love to wake up every day and say, “I’m off to work in the Inspiration Sector!”

Want work in the Inspiration Sector with me?

Lady Gaga on Nonprofit Marketing

Whether she knew it or not, Lady Gaga offered some great advice to non profit marketers in a recent interview when she said, “There is magic in reality.”

Here’s how this relates to you: the reality of the person doing the marketing (that’s you, if you’re reading this) is different than the reality of the person to whom you are marketing. If you want to be able to engage people who care about your cause, you’ve got to figure out what the magic of their reality is. As forward and uncomfortable as it may sound, you’ve got to get in their heads.  

If you are the one in charge of marketing your non profit, you–by definition–lack perspective. (No offense. It’s just how it is.) You’re thinking about, reflecting upon and proactively doing something about getting people’s attention. The person on the receiving end is wondering if they should have a second butterhorn for breakfast. They’re in a different head space. Your job is to get into their  head space.

Here are two resources for helping you get into the heads–and hearts–of people who want to help you advance your mission:

Have you made personas for your organization? Any other ideas for how to get in the heads of people who care about your cause?