How to Use the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Fundraising
Imagine being overloaded with marketing messages from all channels from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. Oh, it's not hard to imagine, right? We all live that reality. Today's donors are savvy, skeptical and well-informed. As a result, they know when someone is trying to sell them something — including donating. So how do you motivate people to support your cause in a world of mass messaging that's led to skepticism?
One way to do it is to go old school with word-of-mouth and align it with your fundraising. You know that consumers trust family and friends more than they do brands. I don’t need to tell you that, but it's why your nonprofit should lean into creating word-of-mouth marketing efforts. To stand out in this competitive environment, you need an edge, and that’s what word-of-mouth creates if you add it to your marketing mix of strategies and resources.
What Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Fundraising?
Word-of-mouth fundraising is when a donor shares your cause by word of mouth, resulting in more donations and expanded donor bases. Word-of-mouth marketing and fundraising rely on trust. So, your nonprofit must create a solid online reputation before donors leap to donate to you. Word-of-mouth fundraising also helps your nonprofit raise money by encouraging existing donors to share your mission with their networks.
A successful word-of-mouth fundraising campaign is one in which your donors feel personally connected to your nonprofit. Achieving this requires your organization to focus on authenticity, transparency and personalization. Your donors shouldn't just give money because you asked them to — they should want to give because you made them feel like you’re the best option for their contributions.
How to Use Word-of-Mouth Fundraising to Attract New Donors
Before attracting new donors through word-of-mouth fundraising, consider establishing a solid donor relations program. A donor relations program is your nonprofit’s strategy for cultivating donor relationships. It’s what makes donors feel personally connected to your organization. And it's what convinces donors to share your mission with their friends, family members and colleagues.
To create a donor relations program, you must first define your target donor. What are their interests? What are their passions? How can you engage your target donor through their passions? How can you make your nonprofit’s cause relevant to your target donor? Further, to attract new donors through word-of-mouth fundraising, you must create engaging content that informs and inspires your target donors.
Develop a Compelling Story and Content Strategy
Your nonprofit’s story and content strategy, including in your annual fund campaign, inspires donors to support your cause. It's what makes donors feel personally connected to your nonprofit. A compelling story and content strategy involve authentic storytelling that appeals to donors' emotions. Authentic storytelling means telling your nonprofit's story in a genuine way that doesn't feel scripted or forced.
For example, let's say you work at a nonprofit that aims to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness. You could tell the story of how your organization was founded. You could talk about the challenges your nonprofit faces and the progress you've made. By telling an authentic story, you inspire donors to support your cause. They'll also feel like they're part of a community working together to achieve common goals and overcome challenges.
Grow Your Network of Donors by Leveraging Your Donor's Friends
The best donors are the ones who are already supporting your nonprofit. These donors will likely become strong advocates for your organization because they're already positively influenced by your cause. You can use these donors to grow your network of donors by asking them to share your nonprofit's mission with their networks.
Again, word-of-mouth is the best way to attract new donors. And people trust people they know more than they do a brand, including a nonprofit brand. So, by leveraging your existing donors, you can effectively grow your network. How? Simply ask. Make it a point to ask your donors to share your cause with others regularly.
Help Donors Stay Engaged and Become Long-Term Relationships
Attracting new donors is only half the battle. Once you’ve got them on your donor list, you should keep them engaged and make sure they remain loyal to your nonprofit. This can be challenging because you're asking donors to provide ongoing support for your nonprofit instead of one-time gifts. You're asking them to commit to your organization and its mission for the long term.
As a result, you need to share the very fact that achieving your mission is not a short-term goal. It’s a long-term strategy. One annual gift does not end poverty, improve education or save the planet. It requires consistent giving and support. So, share the idea that what you're asking of them is a long-term commitment. State it from the outset and set expectations high, but couple it with an outstanding nonprofit vision of a better world.
Word-of-Mouth Is a Great Strategy for the Long Run
Word-of-mouth marketing and fundraising is an excellent way for nonprofits of all sizes and types to grow their donor bases and have deeper relationships with donors. It’s an activity that involves creating trust with donors through authenticity, transparency and personalization. But the more your nonprofit makes your potential donors feel like you care about them, the more likely they are to donate. Word-of-mouth fundraising also establishes trust through your storytelling. As a result, the word gets out about your nonprofit's mission and what you do to accomplish your critical mission in society.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Kristy Morris is a creative professional in corporate and nonprofit social media advertising and brand strategy. As the chief marketing officer at Funds2Orgs and Elsey Enterprises, she works with a suite of global fundraising brands and manages national campaigns for her clients. She hosts a monthly webinar with Funds2Orgs, teaching nonprofits how to make an impact with their social media strategy. Kristy is a passionate individual that loves nothing more than to help others make an impact in their market and the world.
Kristy also contributes monthly to her NonProfit PRO blog, “Marketing IRL.”