Warning: This is part of a ‘rant’ series of posts that are written in one sitting with minimal editing, linking and SEO strategy, attempting to share ideas quickly that are more human. You’ve been warned…

I have to be honest, I’ve been absolutely riveted by Donald Trump’s presidency. Maybe it’s easier to ‘watch’ as I’m in Canada and not as directly affected by the good or bad things that result from his administration but it’s just fascinating.

I’ll keep my personal views and beliefs on the sideline here (as much as I can) but throughout the election and now into his first weeks and months as President I think there are some interesting lessons for you and your nonprofit to learn. So here are…

3 Things Your Nonprofit Can Learn from Donald Trump

1. Donald Trump has a great understanding of his audience.

He knows exactly who his audience is, what they care about, and what he can say to fire them up. This innate skill he, and his team possesses is arguably the biggest reason why they beat the odds and won the presidency in the first place.

He was, and is, able to tune in on a core group of people and speak in a way that resonates with them. You may think his attack on media as ‘the enemy’ is scary, undermining of the judicial system dangerous, and rhetoric around immigration despicable but, if you do, you aren’t part of his audience.

And instead of trying to win over moderate conservatives or far right progressives, he focuses on his base, his people, his fans. And tries to better connect with them and get more of them.

And that’s probably what your nonprofit should do as well. Not everyone is going to care about you, support you, or give to you. So you can spend your time trying to get people to care or spend more time with the people who already care and get them to care more, take action, and recruit others like them.

That’s how communities and movements are built – not by convincing the unbelievers (at least not right away) but by stoking the fires of the already converted.

2. Donald Trump doesn’t care what ‘other’ people say and think.

And a key tenant of the ‘know your audience and speak to them’ point above is to not give a crap about people who don’t fit in that bucket. The majority media can discuss Donald and their disagreements all day but he really does not care. Well, I actually think he cares at an emotional level but strategically they don’t change their message because of feedback or pushback.

He is President. He has a mandate. He has a platform. And he’s going to do it his way. And whether you like him or his platform, I think our world is crying out for authentic, real, and straight talk and Donald has found a way to come across that way to his supporters. Impressive for a rich, celebrity, New Yorker.

You have a cause. You have a mandate. You have a platform. And you need to do what you know needs to be done. Advocating for the LGBTQ community, safe injection sites, or alternative methods of housing isn’t easy and not everyone is going to be on the same page. But you have┬áto know what page you are on, be true to it, and continue on your path even in the face of adversity.

Donors, like voters, want to stand for something and behind something. But you have to give that to them and not care as much about the people who are standing against you or sitting on the sidelines.

3. Donald Trump focuses on emotional impact over informational fact.

I loved the #lastnightinSweden hashtag that developed after Mr. Trump discussed an event that happened in Sweden “last night” when his source for that comment was actually a news story about a documentary done a few years ago causing mass confusion, and some ridicule, amongst the media and his detractors. And some nice trolling on Twitter from Sweden’s account which is managed by a citizen each week (also a neat idea by the way).

This is a good example, or bad example maybe, of how he doesn’t let accuracy trump (pun intended) intent. The intent is to stir up a sense of fear in an insecure and dangerous world where a strong leader is needed to take bold actions to keep people and America safe. The intent of the message comes through, and stays with his audience/supporters, even if the facts weren’t spot on.

I’m not saying ‘don’t worry about getting your facts straight’ but instead of starting with a fact and then building out an emotional case or story that means something to people, think about your message and the connection first and then use facts to back up and support that.

You can’t educate people into giving. They are inspired first and find the rationale and education they need afterward. And no, that’s not what a lot of donors will tell you but it’s how almost all of us actually approach giving.


Regardless of your personal and political beliefs, I think we can learn some things from Mr. Trump when it comes to audience, communications, and connecting with people in a powerful way.

What did you think? Hate the post? Love the post? Like the ‘rant’ idea? Think it’s dumb? Let me know by commenting below or hitting me up on Twitter.