During last week’s National Philanthropy Day in Connecticut workshop, my colleague Jessica and I spoke to nonprofit marketing and development professionals about the importance of developing strategic, creative and compelling communications that drive audiences to take meaningful action. As nonprofits continue to work within tight budgets, we realize it is vitally important to develop highly targeted communications that move the needle and ensure marketing, communications and development teams are helping the organization to achieve its strategic goals. The following are highlights and best practices from our workshop:
Build a foundation of awareness before driving action
It’s not just about who you are (name recognition) it’s also about what you do. For people to take action, they need to feel motivated…and connected. How does one know if appropriate levels of awareness and connection exist? Surveys, focus groups and third-party research can go a long way in providing valuable data that can help to set a realistic baseline for marketing and development campaigns.
Define meaningful ways audiences can take action besides donating money
Nonprofits often get stuck at the bottom of the sales funnel, asking target audiences to lend financial support while overlooking other valuable ways that people can support the cause. Whether it’s hosting a book drive/coat drive/food drive in their own community, organizing a community walk or serving as a cause ambassador, there are meaningful ways that folks can lend support – and increase their familiarity with and connection to the cause – before they become a financial supporter.
Deliver meaningful experiences
The first. The only. By invitation. Be our special guest. Exclusive preview. What experiences can your nonprofit offer supporters that money cannot buy? While a handwritten ‘thank you’ goes a long way, incentivizing audiences to engage in your organization’s social media communities and attend events can go a long way in fostering deeper relationships with the cause.
It’s not just about showcasing the work your organization does in the community. It’s also about showcasing the role your donors played in helping you complete that work and meet your fundraising and organizational goals. Whether it’s quantifying specifically what $25, $50, $100 and so on funds, or providing photos of / an opportunity to visit a new program their generous donation funded, it is important to let donors know their individual contribution is valued and appreciated.
It’s all about relationships
Donor/constituent loyalty is about more than that individual or business’ loyalty to the cause. It’s also about the cause’s loyalty to the donor. How does your organization make supporters feel valued…and unique? During our National Philanthropy Day workshop, we highlighted charity : water’s donate your birthday initiative and how volunteers are engaged in making a personal ‘thank you’ to those who donate the occasion.
While charity : water’s model is a great example of showing donor appreciation, it also important to build relationships with key funders beyond the one or two times a year your organization seeks financial support. Whether you make introductions to key players in the community that your funder would like to meet or send personal updates on the program(s) they fund, there are many natural and meaningful ways to build relationships with loyal supporters to help ensure longevity of these important relationships.
Developing compelling, relevant and actionable communications that consistently motivate audiences to engage with the cause are critical for helping nonprofits achieve their marketing and development objectives. As you reflect on the marketing and development campaigns your nonprofit executed during 2013 and plan for the year ahead, develop a strategy that harnesses what worked best while identifying additional opportunities to engage target audiences in meaningful ways – be it hosting a food drive in their own community, volunteering a day of service or leveraging their social media communities to help your organization reach new audiences and increase its impact. Click here to view Co-Communications National Philanthropy Day in CT presentation in its entirety.