This week’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher featured Cornel West and Mos Def, and it was one of the most entertaining and interesting episodes this year. At one point, they talked about the complacency of the media and how many mainstream reporters want to fit in with and be liked by the people they cover and to be seen as well-adjusted people, which makes their reporting on tough issues go soft. West said something like “We need a maladjusted media, with courage, vision, and sacrifice.”
That’s also the role that many nonprofits should play. If you are trying to bring important, difficult issues to light in your community, it often takes courage, vision, and sacrifice to do so. In your quest to obtain funding from large institutions like government agencies and foundations or even from individual donors, it can be tempting to soften your voice so as not to offend.
But always keep your real mission in focus and speak the truth. It pays to be somewhat maladjusted, because that’s what makes your perspectives interesting and voice loud in the crowd. That’s how you get people’s attention and create real change. Don’t water down your message for the sake of fitting in with the power players. Always hold on to some of your maladjusted edge and let it shine through in your communications and marketing.