In honor of the return of the best reality show of all time, the fabulous staff from M+R’s RuPaul’s Drag Race email group — what, doesn’t your office have one? — has crowdsourced a round-up of the best advice RuPaul’s queens have ever unintentionally given to nonprofits.
If you’re afraid of failing you will never succeed. Most people are afraid to fail, and because people work at, volunteer for, and donate to nonprofits, organizations are often afraid to fail, too. To find success, you need to step outside of the ordinary and take risks. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t — it’s just important that you learn from them and keep growing.
If your audience loves what you’re doing & saying, no one else matters. Nonprofiteers have a bad habit of catering to their enemies. “What will X group say? Will this turn away Senator Y who has never been supportive of us, but might come around this year?” Yes, cooperation is an important part of progress. But you can still cooperate and be true to your cause and your base. The next time you or a co-worker gets cold feet about a press angle or email subject line ask yourself: “Do the oil company executives sitting in their corner offices give 2 f*cks about what the enviros will think?”
Let your hair down and be yourself. (Even if that means being Laganja Estranja). Take a look at your social media copy. Are your followers learning something about you they didn’t know before? Are you serving them content they can relate to and want to dish out to their friends? It’s not enough to be on brand…if you want to keep up with the other cool kids of Instagram you need to be engaging, too. Get it, mama! C’mon ::click click click::: okurrrr!
Dare to reach for the sky but don’t let your strategy float away while you do. Yes, it would be amazing if your ED got that op-ed in the NYT and if Queen Latifah wrote your end-of-year fundraising appeal. But those kinds of opportunities don’t come around that often, so you know what else would be amazing? Using your time to place 3 articles in regional newspapers that matter to your cause, or working with an awesome supporter to author your December email instead. Build your campaign credibility over time, and maybe someday Queen will be asking YOU if she can come on board.
Sorry Chad Michaels: We’re calling it — 99% of the time, perfection is not worth it. You know when you have that super urgent, super timely message that you need to get into those supporter and reporter inboxes? Well, don’t edit to death — just get it out the door!
Remain calm! If you’re prepped and ready for a big event that you know is coming, you can be cool as a cucumber. Things didn’t go your way? Well, you’ve got a rapid response plan for that too.
Know your weaknesses & play to your strengths. When you work on a nonprofit campaign with limited resources, you must adopt the mindset that you can do anything but you can’t do everything. Instead of getting bogged down trying to overcome your weaknesses, focus on how your strengths can work to your advantage.
For the love of Gaga, stop sounding like a nonprofit machine because we can’t handle it anymore. When people (reporters, supporters, funders) hear from you, they don’t want to “maximize your strategic impact” and read perfect grammar. You know what people want? They want REALNESS. Stop the buzzwords. Start talking like a real human again.
Take a step back. Sometimes you’re too close to a project, and it’s just not making sense anymore. Go to bed, and come at it with fresh eyes the next day — for your own sanity and for the quality of the work. Even better: Get someone else to take a look.