“Nonprofit marketing” is an interesting concept. Unlike traditional marketing, where you have to convince someone that your brand or product is the best, strongest, or fastest, nonprofit organizations are “marketing” a social cause or need.
Nonprofits have an obligation to tell the stories of the individuals and communities they serve, not only to raise awareness about their cause but also to give a voice to those individuals and communities. Telling your nonprofit story creates an emotional connection between your audience and your organization, which can directly translate into new supporters, volunteers, and donors.
Your nonprofit story goes far beyond the mission statement or facts about your organization. It’s a narrative of feelings that a brand creates which inspire an emotional reaction in their listener. Companies work tirelessly to develop their brand and customer story and identity. Nonprofits have a beautiful opportunity here: since you exist to create positive change in the world, you already have a beautiful story! Now you just have to tell it.
Like any story- you’ll need a main character. One of the best ways to immediately draw in your audience is with someone they can identify with, relate to, or empathize with. Research shows that what inspires the connection to a cause is a single, named person that your audience can invest in. It’s this human connection that ultimately motivates them to want to help.
It is important to provide detail around where your cause is focused. If you are a community based organization, you’ll want to highlight this to encourage and inspire volunteers and donors that want to get involved in local initiatives. If you support or provide programs somewhere distant and unfamiliar, such as another country, you’ll want your staff and supporters to be able to vividly and visually understand your service area. Whether local or international, establishing the where is the next step in helping your audience understand and connect with your cause.
As a nonprofit organization, you probably exist in some way to solve a problem or make an impact. In other words there is likely some powerful and pressing need you are addressing. Highlighting a shocking or inspiring fact about your issue area or the population you serve will immediately grab the listener’s attention and engage them in your story. Get creative with these metrics and statistics, providing those that demand explanation and attention.
Now the moment you’ve been waiting for. Your audience has met the character, they can understand and visualize the setting, they know why something needs attention: now you get to introduce what you actually do. Tell them about your organization, your mission statement, and exactly what you are doing to help people like your main character. Make sure that you are using your brand’s voice and tone in how you are communicating this information. The more you can use quantitative and qualitative support for your work, including impact and service metrics as well as testimonials, the more you gain credibility.
The “Why” has created a sense of urgency, and you don’t want your audience to wait too long for you to get to the point or you might lose their attention. Now is the time to tell them exactly what you need. Present them with a volunteer opportunity or a donation ask. If you want to cultivate these supporters, start by giving them the opportunity to share your cause with their friends and family. Tools like Social Press Kit make this social sharing and engagement as easy as possible for your supporters.
Once you have your nonprofit story, start telling it! Find influential individuals in your network, from board members to volunteers to celebrities, and make sure they have the tools and information to tell it too. Everyone in your network should feel comfortable and equipped to talk about your mission, programs, and impact, so be sure you’re constantly sharing new and valuable information with your staff and supporters.
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Bre is marketing and sales professional focusing on technology tools for nonprofit organizations. When she’s not at the office, you can find her on a long run on the beach or watching a Yankees game.