Raising Your Nonprofit’s Profile to Generate Support
Often nonprofits feel they need to raise awareness and get more supporters, clients, partners and/or media to take notice of all the good work they’re doing. Most are already sharing their stories on social media or in emails and newsletters. But while these tactics worked well for them in the past, now they seem unable to break through.
These organizations do excellent, important work. Each one deserves support and recognition. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get there, but they do need to refine and update their communications strategies.
Here are four tips to break through to get your organization the recognition it needs.
1. Keep It Simple
There are different opinions on what the pandemic has done to our brains and attention spans. But the increased stress and uncertainty we’ve faced in the past several years has unquestionably impacted our ability to take in new information and complex ideas.
In the audience tests I have conducted in the last year as part of messaging development, there has been a shift where people miss key points when they’re just a few sentences into a paragraph or narrative. They understand the first point; after that, it seems, they reach their limit for new information. The new reality is that it’s even more critical to keep your communications simple and direct, and put your most important information at the front.
2. Deepen Your Relationships
It’s always easier to convert someone who knows you, even if only a little, into being a bigger supporter or a stronger partner more engaged with your cause. Look at your email lists and see if you can create even more targeted segments to personalize your message and make them take notice. These days, people expect greater customization in their communications.
If there are people on your list who donated a couple of years ago but haven’t supported you again, send them an email thanking them again for their help. Talk about what their contribution made possible — especially if it was around a specific campaign — and share stories.
Instead of making another ask right away, offer other, easy ways of engaging with your work: Link to a short update video or a short success story, invite readers to share a social media post, or answer a short survey. The idea is to develop a communications funnel where you start moving them from a one-off donation into ongoing supporters or even advocates for your cause.
3. Leverage Your Networks
I often hear that people choose to donate to a nonprofit, volunteer or partner with a group because a colleague, friend or family member introduced them to the organization or cause. Word-of-mouth marketing usually makes up for its limited scope because the people it converts tend to engage more deeply.
Ask your most loyal supporters to request birthday gift donations to your nonprofit. Ask one of your partners to introduce you to another organization or business associate. Conducting a peer-to-peer campaign can be a great way to break through and connect to new supporters.
4. Invest in Great Design
Visuals can often set you apart, especially on social media. Having a strong visual identity is critical to boosting your credibility, building trust in the organization, and making your brand stand out: whether they’re conscious of it or not, people make judgments based on your visual storytelling. Good design can also help you communicate complex ideas in a clear way. In the very visual online space, it can make people stop scrolling and pause to take in what you’re presenting.
Programs like Canva can help you develop your own designs, and that is fine, but we’re not all great designers. Hiring someone to create compelling Canva social media templates, a stunning one-page flier you can email or a rich data report with infographics can be worth the investment.
We’re all constantly bombarded with images and information. According to research, most of us are responding by shutting a lot of it out. What does get through? Messages that are easily grasped, personal and visually striking. For nonprofits looking to raise their profile and generate more support, this means treating their communications strategy as a work-in-progress, updating and refining their approach to meet their supporters where they are.
Leeann Alameda has more than 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, branding, communications and advertising in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, which provides marketing strategy and branding services for nonprofits, foundations and mission-driven businesses.