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Marian Starkey, Population Connection


Mysamaris: My Samaritan Internet Solutions, a trusted online expert and technical solutions provider.



From fundraising strategy and consultation to web design and development – including responsive – Mysamaris has the experience to help you succeed.



Are there web projects you didn’t have the staff or budget to complete in 2015? Let Mysamaris lend a hand.


Partnerships & Associations

Mysamaris partners with a range of technology partners such as Artez, Blackbaud, Constant Contact, Kimbia, and others.



So you want to start a nonprofit?

Maybe you are a nonprofit professional currently between jobs or you have a great cause you feel isn’t being championed well enough; there are many reasons to consider founding a nonprofit organization. We will address the actual process of founding a non-profit in our next post; however first let’s dispel some myths.

If you come from the for-profit world you may have some misconceptions however:

1. Nonprofits don’t make money
This is a serious misconception, being a 501(c)(3) doesn’t mean there is no profit; it means that any profits go toward the work the NPO does. There are major nonprofits that make significant profits. You may have heard of the New York Stock Exchange, the NFL, or Harvard.

2. A nonprofit should have low or minimal overhead costs.
This is likely one of the most common misconceptions about how a nonprofit functions. The fact is a nonprofit has the same overhead as any other business. Rent, clerical supplies, computers, etc. All these cost money. Though there are programs that can result in significant savings, the fact is there will be a significant cost to running a business and a nonprofit IS a business.

3. Nonprofits get most of their funding from foundations.
Donations and grants from wealthy private and corporate foundations represent a small portion of the funding for most nonprofits. Individual gifts, those made by independent people actually makes up over 71% of the annual revenue for nonprofits nationally. Don’t count on a grant to carry a new organization, they are hard to get and can dry up through no fault of your own.

4. Nonprofits don’t need staff; they can use volunteers.
Nonprofits actually employ over ten percent of the US population. That’s not because they are run poorly; that’s because nonprofit employees need skills and real time to dedicate to the causes they support. Though some tasks are available from volunteers, these are usually unskilled labor type work. Some companies will donate time for marketing or accounting skills, but in the end it will not be a priority to them, expect to have to pay those costs eventually.

5. Nonprofit employees are those who couldn’t cut it in the “real world”.
This is probably the most offensive stereotype we have come across. Nonprofit professionals chose careers in the sector because they care about making an impact. Some may be a bit outspoken on the causes they support, but that’s what drives them to do what they do. Most people don’t realize that the nonprofit sector employs a significant number of MBAs.

6. Nonprofit work environments are informal and relaxed.
Though this is true in some cases, it is no more accurate than the description of the software industry, every workplace is different. If you expect casual attire you clearly have never seen the general staff of a large nonprofit in DC. Some organizations can be downright draconian in their adherence to the chain of command. Make no assumptions about what works in the nonprofit space.

Now that we’ve cleared a few of these up, stay tuned to this Facebook for more on starting a nonprofit, if you are still sure you are willing to follow that road.

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Fundraising is Not a Sin

After many years of experience in the nonprofit sector and years of collected data to prove its value, we are always astounded that so many organizations do not optimize their online activities for fundraising.

If we think about why this may be the case there are a few answers:

-Fear of Alienating the Audience-

Some leaders make decisions based around a fundamental belief that those who are interested in a cause are repulsed by fundraising asks. The problem here is that if this is the case, how exactly are they planning to help? There are several ways an individual can help, primarily they can volunteer, socially champion the cause, take political action or donate. Although all of these are to be encouraged, only donation makes the others possible. This is the “story” that has to be told.

-Fear of Appearing Needy/Weak-

Let’s be honest, successful leaders do not want to appear like they need help. Sometimes these drives carry forward to their first impulses about running an organization. The fact is nonprofits exist by tapping into the philanthropic impulse. Yes, nonprofits exist to do good, but they do that good with other people’s money. It is not a sign of failure to follow that model.

-Fear of Distracting From the Cause-

The best asks incorporate the cause and highlight the need. A good ask is a case statement. A well-crafted campaign MUST highlight the cause if it is to be effective.

-Lack of Knowledge of Best Practices-

Designing a web presence or communicating for a nonprofit is a specialized skill set. Sometimes nonprofits contract independent firms to design a web presence who do not know “the rules” or are being run without the budget to bring in experienced nonprofit writing experts. Sadly this can be a recipe for trouble. Always consider the long term costs of these decisions. Loss of email list names is permanent; lifetime donor value will decrease. An ineffective website will cost money in lost donations and eventually need to be redone, do it right the first time.

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