Can (or should) small nonprofits compete with the big guys?

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 1:45PM

Hardy Smith Nonprofit Consultant and Speaker

In the world of auto racing there are several different forms of motorsports; however, NASCAR events with their highly popular drivers attract the most attention and largest crowds.A lesser known entity, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA), could be considered the David of motorsports when compared to NASCAR, which is definitely the Goliath.Although the two organizations have been in the racing business for about the same length of time, ARCA’s drivers don’t have the name recognition that the NASCAR drivers enjoy, and they struggle for sponsorship dollars and media respect.There are thousands of nonprofits across the country in the same situation.

Nationally known charities and causes can have a public relations or fundraising blitz that dominates all publicity outlets. Thousands of volunteers respond and huge amounts of money are collected.

Meanwhile a local nonprofit with a purpose that is equally worthwhile can struggle to get the support it needs just to keep going.

My longtime friend Ron Drager is president of ARCA, which was founded by his grandfather. Ron’s lifelong exposure gives him a good perspective on the business’s ability to operate successfully for more than six decades in spite of being overshadowed by better known racing brands.

He follows a business philosophy that can benefit nonprofits that may feel not as appreciated as a much larger Goliath-sized organization.

“We don’t get caught up in being the biggest. It’s not so much about competing as it is about understanding who we are and how we fit in. We know we serve a constructive purpose and we focus on that. We want to be as solid as possible on what we do and that takes continuous polishing and trying our very best.”

So rather than worry about battling Goliath, nonprofit Davids may find greater success by following a strategy that focuses on the value they represent and doing the best they can with what they have.


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