The Influencer Effect: An Immune Booster to Help Grow Your Nonprofit
What do U.S. nonprofit donors have in common with The Beatles’ song, “When I’m 64”? Answer: That’s donors’ average age. The consequences will be severe for any nonprofit if demographics don’t age down. Program delivery, employees and infrastructure will shrink — and an increasing number of organizations will cease to exist.
The Influencer Effect is an economical and simple way to imbue all facets of your organization with the supplements needed to regain the energy to fulfill your mission. The Influencer Effect is the exponential impact of influencers throwing their popularity, social capital and platform behind a particular cause or brand. This amplification raises awareness, support and funds, inspires people to act, and drives programmatic success.
The Influencer Effect is both psychological and social, with the intended, often hard-to-reach, but highly desired, audience mimicking the actions or recommendations of the influencer. Research shows that Gen Z and younger Millennials will trust an Influencer way more than an advertisement or a brand's reputation.
Look how Global Citizen has emerged in the last decade as a leading advocacy organization attracting young audiences through its strategic use of Influencers, especially music artists, to highlight philanthropic and social justice causes and pressure elected public officials to act.
The Influencer Effect doesn’t always need to involve an A‐list celebrity. An influencer is a public figure who is culturally appropriate for your desired audience and stakeholders, whether a social media influencer, athlete, local news anchor, author, icon or even an Instagram dog.
Take Senegal-based international medical organization ALIMA’s 2022 U.S. awareness-raising campaign, “We Are the Solution.” Here, influencers were U.S. and international doctors with social media followings of fewer than 30,000 (known as micro-influencers) who authentically connected to the work. The result was a sevenfold-plus increase in ALIMA’s social media followers, video views and visits to their donor landing pages at a cost that was less than half the average cost for such a campaign.
The benefits of the Influencer Effect are identifiable and measurable and will benefit your entire ecosystem. Externally, your marketing and communications, development, and program efforts will garner more awareness, support, and funding.
Several Influencers, such as A. R Rahman, Angelique Kidjo, Itzhak Perlman, and Ziggy Marley, joined Rotary’s “End Polio Now” vaccination campaign. These Rotary Polio Ambassadors promoted the campaign through concerts, music videos, social media, and earned media. Consequently, thousands of donors and millions of people became aware of and acted to help support polio eradication efforts across the globe. The campaign was part of an ongoing effort by many wonderful and brave people and organizations worldwide over several decades that caused India and Africa to become polio-free.
Internally, the Influencer Effect has many benefits for nonprofits. The Rotary’s polio ambassadors re-energized Rotarians to volunteer and donate several million dollars to vaccination programs. Often unforeseen favorable consequences arise that benefit the organization, such as an invite for March of Dimes leadership to a prestigious, highly selected conference on premature births.
One of my favorites was the American Diabetes Association “Diabetes Dance Dare” where Influencers, initially including Shaquille O'Neal, Mark Cuban, Camila Cabello, Kelly Clarkson, and Usher, danced, dared others, and donated to diabetes research and awareness. The highly successful campaign had two unintended but important consequences. Employees and volunteers reported an increased pride in and commitment to the organization, and organically diabetes organizations in several other countries embraced the campaign.
Did I mention that 99% of the influencers I have worked with in more than 100 campaigns were not paid? Nor did I know the vast majority of them beforehand. They donated their time, services and equity because our research discovered their passion and authentic connection to a particular cause.
The Influencer Effect is open to every nonprofit and social justice organization, regardless of size. Use the Influencer Effect to give your organization’s immune system the boost it deserves. Your organization's health and quality of life will improve. I look forward to learning your results.
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.
Paul M. Katz, author of “Good Influence,” is a veteran music industry executive, multi-Grammy nominee and thought leader in the cause influence field who has guided nonprofits, companies, high-profile artists and other influencers in driving meaningful social impact campaigns for more than two decades.
As CEO and founder of social impact agency Entertain Impact, Katz has led marketing and advocacy campaigns that have raised awareness, support and funds for philanthropic, social justice, and purpose-driven organizations over the past two decades — including the African Wildlife Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Trust For Historic Preservation, Rotary International, ELMA Philanthropies, and WHO Foundation. These campaigns have been supported by hundreds of influencers, including Kevin Bacon, Ziggy Marley, Angélique Kidjo, John Legend, Lupita Nyong'o, Mark Ruffalo, Annie Leibovitz, Usher and Desmond Tutu.