Why Your Nonprofit Needs to Build a Community: 3 Ways to Do It Right
So, you've been paying attention to the buzz about building a community, but you're not sure what that means for your nonprofit. Building a community is now essential to engage with your supporters, prospects, donors and more. Moreover, it’s what your nonprofit donors want to see.
As we see the rise of private label communities and the frustration with social media platforms, people are looking for more options and opportunities. Further, after the ongoing challenges with the pandemic, people reprioritized. Now most people want a sense of belonging and spending time with communities.
One of the best things about building a community is that it's all completely customizable to fit your organizational needs. For example, you can find prospects through social media campaigns and drive them to private online communities. Building a community is crucial to the success of any nonprofit, and the most important thing is understanding what makes your organization unique and tailoring the experience to your audience. The donor experience matters!
Building a community isn't easy, but it's worth it. It's something that takes time, consistency, persistence and engagement. Depending on your budget, you should also spend some money on ads to attract new people to your cause. However, building a community is one of the best ways to engage with prospects and donors and to create brand loyalty. Here are three ways to build your nonprofit’s community.
1. Create Partnerships With Influencers
One of the best ways to build a community is to find influencers in your industry who might be able to help spread the word about your brand. These influencers (including micro-influencers) can have a significant following on social media channels or blogs with a large readership. Influencers could, of course, be individuals; however, they could also be other brands that could help give you more exposure by developing a partnership.
For example, let's say a soup kitchen needs fresh ideas to expand its outreach. It could send a direct message via Instagram to an influential restaurant in the neighborhood, asking if it would like to collaborate. The pair could develop a strategic partnership and post photos on each other's social media channels. This gives the nonprofit brand awareness, and burnishes its reputation in the community with CSR. In short, not only does this nonprofit get the exposure it wants for its nonprofit, but the restaurant gets an opportunity to promote its content or business.
2. Find Prospects Through Social Media Campaigns or Content Sharing on Blogs
One of the best ways to build a community is to find prospects through social media campaigns or content sharing on blogs. These methods allow you to grow your community by targeting people already interested in your brand or mission. It also provides the opportunity to get feedback, which is invaluable for any nonprofit trying to attract more support.
For example, you might start with a series of posts on an influencer's blog, which could result in mentions of your organization elsewhere online. Those mentions allow you to get more exposure for your mission.
The other option is posting original content that resonates with potential supporters. This type of content often includes topics relevant to your mission or trending in the news. For example, you might post about what's happening in your community concerning housing, homelessness, etc., if you happen to do outreach services. Posts like this will help you gain followers and acquire new donors during outreach efforts.
3. Offer Incentives for People to Join Your Community
Another way to build your community is by offering incentives for people to join. It's a win-win situation because you will increase the size of your community while also providing valuable content for your followers. To do this, create topics and post daily content. This way, it's easy for others to see what you're all about and get involved. You can also offer incentives, like volunteer service days, e-books or exclusive offers for those who sign up.
Here are some other things you should keep in mind:
- Don't forget to handpick moderators to help you maintain a discussion and answer questions from your supporters.
- Remember that the more active your community is, the better! Encourage people who join to take an active role in discussions or regularly share content with other members.
- When possible, encourage users with special rewards (e.g., recognition, social badges, etc.) if they post quality responses and share quality content with others in your community.
One of the best ways to get people excited about your forum or social media channels is by offering exclusive content. Maybe you have a few bloggers who are aligned with your mission and willing to share their best posts with your community. Perhaps you could tap into your nonprofit's library of digital content. The key is to offer something that might not be accessible elsewhere. It will make people want to join your community and stay engaged in the conversation.
As we move beyond the past two challenging years, you'll see that growing demand for in-person events and community-building platforms. Start your community outreach efforts now if you want your nonprofit to be on the leading edge of this trend.
Kristy Fontelera 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.”