The Pitfalls of Non-profit
Lisa Witter is the chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country. She heads the firm's practice in women's issues and global affairs for clients including Women for Women International, MoveOn.org, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and many others. She is a co-founder of the award-winning website SheSource.org, an online brain trust of women experts to help close the gender gap among commentators in the news media. She was honored as an outstanding activist and expert on women's issues by Oxygen.com for her work on a national campaign against privatizing Social Security during the 2000 presidential election. Lisa is a blogger and political commentator with her work appearing on MSNBC, Fox News, The Huffington Post, AlterNet and Anderson Cooper 360. In 2004, she was a contestant on the Showtime reality show American Candidate. Witter is co-author of The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them.
She is on the advisory board for Indianapolis University's Women and Philanthropy Institute, Pop!Tech, Momsrising.org, Women for Women International and Climate Counts.
Question: Where do non-profits go wrong?
Lisa Witter: I absolutely think that the largest mistake that non profits make is they think that the facts are the most important thing. They say “As long as people know John McCain’s voting record, as long as people know that if we don’t pass this environmental bill, as long as people know that if we vote for a supreme court justice this is gonna happen,” you know, that’s not enough, you also have to talk to people’s hearts and minds, you also have to tell compelling stories, you also have to connect with people emotionally. So I think a lot of people running non profits, I think we’re so earnest and wanna change the world and we know the facts and if people just knew the facts, but that’s not enough, you have to connect with people emotionally too. Ronald Reagan was great at this, he knew, he didn’t make ads about the facts, he connected with people emotionally and this is why Barack Obama is doing so well, you know, people say “Oh he leaves out the details” yeah there’s some details that I think he’s gonna fill in as he goes on but he understands that the first thing you have to do is empathize and connect with people emotionally and that’s making him such a powerful candidate.
Facts and passion a crusade do not make, says Lisa Witter.
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