Can You Run Your Non-Profit Like A Business?

Many businesses don’t get it.

They don’t get why a website is different from their brochure and they sure as hell don’t know how to use this digital medium to help them market and promote their business offerings.

We’ve always ranted that Malaysian websites tend to suck. And rightly so.

They’re usually full of self-serving rubbish which is boring and full of cliches. I mean, how many times have you read a website that says: “We are a group of creative professionals who are here to help you…..” I bet you your eyes just glazed over and you wanted to yawn. Ya,ya, we click on the About tab to learn more about YOU, what makes you and your organisation special, not to read yet another spiel on what 10 million or so companies are doing out there.

If there is a prize for boring content on websites, you won’t have to look far. It’s all over the Internet!

So today, I want to clue you in on an amazing website and it’s not even run by a business. It’s run by a non-profit, a social organisation if you will. (My aim is to inspire you so you can improve your website!) Call it a Friday tip of the week.

Friday Tip of The Week

I first heard of The Kechara House when they came up to Penang last year to exhibit and promote their Buddhist products – books, DVDs, jewellery, Tibetan incense, prayer products and lots more.

I remember being quite impressed by them – I’m a Buddhist and for the longest time, I disliked going to the temple because most Buddhists forget how to have fun and live life. Everyone’s serious (I don’t know why!).

I say this with all honesty because we think we should be always serious because this world is full of suffering and we should try our best to attain Nirvana but in the process, we forget that we’re human beings. (It’s no wonder why some Buddhists become Christians? Coz Christians seem to have more fun. They have great gospel songs. They have fun camps. They celebrate LIFE!). We’re just thinking of dying and ending suffering in this life.

I remember speaking to the volunteers of Kechara House (they are based in KL) and feeling good that these people were fun and open. Nic and I had a great time talking to them, finding out about their master and teacher, His Eminence, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. These volunteers despite coming from KL and having had to man their booths for long hours were in high spirits and enjoyed sharing their knowledge with us.

I signed up for their website alerts during this time too. And since then I have been receiving their ezines regularly. And they’ve impressed me again and again via their work, activities and ezine. They have a well-maintained and updated website, always full of interesting news and superb photos (with captions too). They show the best of their organisation – enthusiastic and cheerful and I love the way their ezines well-written, without a spelling mistake! Hats off to the ezine team.

Business Lessons We Can All Learn

Here are some great business lessons we can all learn from The Kechara House:

1. Keep your website updated with interesting stuff. People are always keen to know more about you. Show your human side.

2. Give more information than needed. Most websites hate disclosing information. The Kechara House tells you so much that you come away very informed. You know exactly what’s happening even though you were not there. That’s brilliant marketing you know.

3. Take photos which say something. It’s great to pose for a photo but that is so 80s! It’s mucho better to have spontaneous photos of people in action, smiling, having good times.

4. Use technology well – did you know you can follow Tsem Tulku Rinpoche has his own personal website? That you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter as well as watch his Dhamma talks on Youtube? Plus want to donate? Do it via PayPal. The Kechara House makes it super easy for you to play your part as a donor or fan!

5. Use work to inspire others. There’s videos from The Kechara Soup Kitchen group showing the lives they’ve touched on their outreach trips in Puduraya, Pudu market, Central Market to feed the homeless and hungry. (Oh ya and their videos are done professionally without that home video feel.) And what impresses me is that they know what they want you to do once you’ve watched the videos.

6. They’re self-sustaining – they sell Buddhist dharma arts and crafts, they have their own vegetarian restaurant. their own video production house, their own media publication house. They don’t use pity to pull your heart strings; they sell products and services so you can help them help themselves. Isn’t that a cool idea?

The thing is, it’s easy to forget this is a non-profit social organisation. It’s run like a business.

How much better non-profit organisations would become if their leaders managed them like businesses? The Than Hsiang Temple in Bayan Lepas comes to mind of another excellent example of running a non-profit like a business.

Revolutionizing Religion

I believe they are revolutionising Buddhism in their own way because for far too long, Buddhism has been associated with older people who think having fun is blasphemous to the religion. And sad to say, the young generation who grew up speaking English (and not Mandarin) felt disconnected like I was during Buddhist gatherings.

I wanted to belong but there was no attraction. I am glad that Kechara House is bringing good old fun back into Buddhist activities because there’s nothing wrong with celebrating life and having good, clean fun with people who share the same religious beliefs as you (take a leaf from the Christian groups and you can see why they’re wildly successful).

In fact, they had so many fun activities during their recent Wesak Day – capoeira, line dancing, pet grooming, plant sale, clothing sale, secondhand book sale, massages besides the usual Wesak stuff – vegetarian food stalls, lighting lamps, selling Buddhist paraphernalia.

After all, spreading the idea of doing good can benefit us massively. And Kechara House has done it pretty darn well, I must say!

Another useful post to read:

Ideas for non-profit websites

1 thought on “Can You Run Your Non-Profit Like A Business?”

Leave a Comment