Nonprofit organizations must work within the legal system and, often, are also held responsible for other professional standards of practice. The activities of nonprofit organizations are also constrained by another important factor: public perception. Why does public perception matter for nonprofit organizations? How does a nonprofit organization effectively educate the general public? How does a nonprofit organization earn the public trust?
To illustrate the seriousness of this issue, I have provided an example below. The following myths/facts about organ donation make a real impact on the nonprofit organizations that coordinate organ donations. These incorrect perceptions can cause real challenges for: the decision to donate (by an individual or a family), the choice to financially contribute to these nonprofits, and the political support for their work.
Myth: Organ donation is anti-religious.
Fact: All major religions in the United States support donation and view it as a charitable act.
Myth: If your driver’s license says you are an organ donor, the medical staff will not work as hard to provide proper medical care.
Fact: If you are admitted to the hospital for sickness or injury, the first priority is saving your life.
Myth: People who are brain dead can come back to life.
Fact: Brain death has been considered equivalent to the legal and technical meaning of medical death since the late 1960’s.
Myth: Rich and/or famous people receive donations before poor minorities.
Fact: The order of patients on the waiting list is dependent upon the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information.
In what other areas of the nonprofit world are there incorrect assumptions or poor perceptions that complicate the work of an organization? Please leave a comment with your ideas.