Out of the Mouths of Babes ...
Be a storyteller
Over and over, the leaders of successful young nonprofits tell you that they are storytellers. Why? Because facts and statistics alone are not enough to motivate passion to change the world. It must come from the stories of people caught in circumstances we would find intolerable — and that creates energy that motivates us to act.
Not surprisingly, younger charities have found film and video to be the most powerful way to tell their stories. Invisible Children, Charity: Water, Falling Whistles and others have video at the heart of their communications strategies. Video is shareable and faster than almost anything else at moving someone to action.
Storytelling is an easy principle for many organizations — especially older ones. Every organization that’s been in existence for a while should have a wealth of stories about its impact. Yes, it takes time and investment to find your stories and tell them well. But it’s worth it.
Invest in the brand experience
The most successful young nonprofits today put a great amount of thought and effort into how their supporters experience their brands. They craft their websites, social-media interactions, events and branded merchandise with one goal — to create a compelling user experience.
Is it expensive? Is it hard to do well? Yes and yes. But it’s critical for building the energy and momentum that a movement needs to spread rapidly. Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, states that the organization wants its branded merchandise to be better than what for-profit companies produce because its cause is more important.
Of course, what is an appropriate brand experience for a new organization like Invisible Children may not be appropriate for your organization. Younger organizations tend to be supported by younger donors who have different expectations. The key is to create a consistent brand experience that will resonate with your audience.