10 Lessons from The Breakfast Club for Nonprofits

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the theatrical release of The Breakfast Club.  A movie that revealed as much about the high school caste system as it did the actual goings on of a unique, all-Saturday detention behind closed doors.

Sure, it may very well be the 80’s-phile in me, but I think that the film is just as relevant today-and not just for high-schoolers.  I think there are lessons that can be applied to just about any nonprofit.  Here are the 10 lessons from The Breakfast Club for nonprofits:

Sincerely yours,  The Breakfast Club

1. You Don’t Know Me

Facts: Donors are people. People like doing business with people. So, as much as we love using technology to stay in touch with our constituents and reach more new potential donors- never neglect the need to keep it personal.  Face to face meetings cannot be replaced.  Need help getting those meetings? Check out these 9 Amazing Secrets You Need to Getting a Major Donor Meeting from Claire Axelrad.

2. Set Clear Goals to Score

By starting with a clear vision statement and mission statement, you are setting your cause up for a better chance to succeed.  It makes communicating to everyone- from donors to volunteers to funders- much easier and it helps to always keep you and your team focused on what really matters.

3. We Need More Sleep!

Working ourselves to the point of exhaustion is not only unsustainable, it’s downright unhealthy. This leadership-focused  post from Beth Kanter puts to rest the myth that staying awake longer makes us more productive.

4. We Care!

And so do the millions who are members of the Millennial generation.  But, probably in different ways from other generations. The Millennial Impact Report has been studying the ways that they engage with causes and the corporate world. Here are some generalizations:

• Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.

• Millennials support issues rather than organizations.

• Millennials prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause.

• Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers.

• Millennials treat all their assets (time, money, network, etc.) as having equal value.

• Millennials need to experience an organization’s work without having to be on site.


5. Identifying Trends is Vital

Technology changes every moment and consumers are fickle. It’s valuable to identify trends and prepare your organization for adapting to them in advance.  The National Council of  Nonprofits published this very handy list of trends they have identified for 2015.


6. The World IS an Imperfect Place

But when we focus on the Greater Good, we can make it a better place.  Well constructed cross sector partnerships can help.  Learn how to develop a Business Value Proposition, that can provide your organization financial stability, with this advice from the father of cause marketing, Bruce Burtch.


7. You Can Learn a Lot When You Open Your Mind

The world is going mobile- but that doesn’t mean you need to focus on apps and devices. To truly grasp the impact mobile has on your organization you must approach with a new mindset and try to understand the new expectations for the user from her perspective. This post from Forrester Research helps demonstrate how you can translate activity into design that will benefit your objectives. Or check out this post from Social Media for Nonprofits, with some eye-opening statistics.


8. Praise is Important

Recognition and praise for work well-done can go a long way in keeping your staff engaged! Check out these creative ways to thank your staffers or volunteers- without spending a dime- many of which can also be used to thank loyal donors. Conversely, you’ll want to make sure you steer clear of comments that will drive a wedge between you and staffers— check out this post from Kadi McDonald which includes some real life examples.


9. Emails Can Get Ignored

It’s O.K!  According to M+R and NTEN’s 2014 Benchmarks Study, even though response rates for nonprofit emails continued to slide, online giving was up as email and social media audiences and web traffic continue climbing. Check out these 8 big trends that emerged from the study.



10. Bragging is Good

When it comes to marketing, nonprofits finally have an advantage over for-profits! While for-profits may win when it comes to budget, the nonprofit advantage lies clearly in its impact.  Hone in on your organization’s impact and share it in a way that only you can.  Check out this post features great advice given by Jamey Heinze, CMO, CDS Global.


Have a lesson that you’d like to add? Please share it in the comments below!

  • http://ivolunteeruniversity.com/ Deanna Cole

    Fun article! This always comes to mind when I watch this movie…Movie
    Lesson #11 An unlikely group of people coming together, CAN learn from
    each other. As volunteers, and as managers we sometimes overlook the
    talents and motivations of those we volunteer with. If we’re open,
    listen and ask, we might surprise ourselves and become a dream team.

    • http://www.thirdsectortoday.com/ Amy DeVita

      So true, Deanna! Thanks for pointing that out- so important to break down stereotypes that limit our ability to learn from others…and be agents of change. Thanks for reading and commenting:)

  • Pingback: 8 Ways to be More Productive - Top Nonprofits()