Making a name for yourself (or your organization) isn’t easy. During this year’s Olympics, we’ve watched as a handful of athletes rise to the top, overcoming steep competition from a large crop of talent. While all the athletes are capable of completing unimaginable feats (the last time I could do a backflip on a balance beam was – um – never), not all leave the games with a medal and their name in history books. So how do the select few make it to the podium?

Many health care nonprofits face a similar challenge. How do you stand out in a pool of strong competitors? With the right mindset and a few key tactics, your health care nonprofit can break through the pack.

Eyes on the Prize

The health care nonprofit landscape is full of organizations that have a real impact on patients’ lives. Some fund research while others advocate for policy change. However, even organizations focused on the same therapeutic areas (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) may take two very different approaches, operating with different goals and missions.

Making a name for your health care nonprofit can seem daunting, especially with so many big players out there already. But just because you’re up against Katie Ledecky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get in the pool. Focus on what your organization does well and where you fit in the broader landscape. As communicators, it is our job to communicate this to stakeholders, telling an organization’s story in an authentic, clear way. As you look for your niche, don’t copy the competition – stay focused on what makes your nonprofit unique, and share it with the world.

Stay Flexible

As we’ve seen over the last year and a half, being able to adapt as an organization can make or break you. Just as athletes stay nimble, it is important that your organization stay agile as well. You will undoubtedly face hurdles – a major donor backs out, your social media strategy isn’t gaining traction – but if things aren’t working the way you planned, readjust and try again.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many health care organizations to adapt and rethink how they function, where they direct funds, and how they support their clients and staff like never before. Now is a good time to look at what is (and isn’t) working within your organization. And don’t just assume you know what is best for your constituents, staff and donors. Instead, actively involve them in the process of identifying areas of improvement and creating change.

Be a Team Player

At the end of the day, the work your health care nonprofit is doing can change lives in meaningful ways, like funding research to find cures, offering financial support to families in need, or fostering community. Use your organizational knowledge and unique capabilities to bolster and support other groups who are also striving to improve health. Be a convener by bringing together talent from other health care nonprofits to share insights, or position yourself as a thought leader, offering interesting new perspectives on topics that affect the broader community.

Not only will your organization benefit, but you can help others make their way to the podium as well.

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