I am a volunteer, and I am a donor. I donate to Christopher and Dana Reeve’s charity for spinal cord injury and research. Why? Because my father has a spinal cord injury.
See the connection? It’s personal for me, which makes it fairly easy for me to choose where my time and money is spent. But there are several other charities doing similar work, why not those? Well, because along with my dad, Superman was my hero growing up.
But it isn’t personal for everyone and not everyone’s childhood heroes suffer traumatic injury like mine did. A majority of people donate for other reasons, such as seeing a charity that makes a big impact or one that gives back directly to their community.
So how do you make your cause known? How can you take your organization to the next level and stand out among the thousands of other charities that are just a click away?
Charity Republic has compiled a list based on loads of research and we're sharing it here with the hopes of sparking some inspiration.
1. Tap into a younger demographic
We know that Millennials define themselves by their causes and that their caring extends beyond brand power and clever marketing. Eighty-seven percent of millennials give financial donations every year and are beginning to earn a reputation for being “The giving generation”. The Millennial Impact Report has proven that younger citizens build their lives around charitable giving.
Another reason to start looking at a younger demographic now is that, as the Bank of Montreal reports, there is an estimated $1 trillion in the intergenerational transfer of wealth that will fall safely into the wallets of Millennials over the next several decades.
If you lack the resources to build awareness among this demographic, then it might be time to look at the next tip, strategic partnerships.
2. Partnership, partnership, partnership
“Even niche markets, such as the nation's college students, now show a striking preference for brands they believe to be socially responsible. According to a newly released College Explorer study from Alloy Media, nearly 95% of students say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand's partnership with a cause,” writes Kim T. Gordon, the Marketing coach at Entrepreneur.com.
Companies know that in order to be effectively seen as a caring brand, they need to do more than just donate dollars to a cause. They need to walk the walk. This often means that corporate sponsors will donate their staff’s time and expertise to advocate for a nonprofit, or will create a cause marketing campaign that benefits a nonprofit greatly.
When was the last time your organization spoke with the PR or management level representative at a corporation who would be a good partner for your organization? If the answer is never, stop reading; start calling. Create a win-win situation for you and your future partner.
Not sure who to partner with or how to run a cause marketing campaign? Check out this piece on entrepreneur.com to understand what a corporate partner is looking for, and then check out the 10 best cause marketing campaigns of 2014 to fire up your creative kiln!
3. Stay up-to-date with the internet
We're not talking about regular updates on social media, either. We mean that you need to know what’s new with the social media platforms you use to connect with your targeted audiences. Did you know Facebook recently allowed charities and nonprofits to add a “Donate Now” button to their pages? This is the definition of call-to-action, and hopefully you’ve just opened a new browser tab to double check that your page has implemented this.
Know what else works on social media? Images and videos. Graphically designed quotes, thoughtful videos, and well made infographics are among the most clicked and shared media in the entire world. Don’t have a designer or the resources to hire one? No problem. Just go to your search bar and type www.pinterest.com and start curating some already made content!
Remember to add Google Analytics to your website to see how it’s being used and how many people are viewing which pages. This information is important when deciding which audiences to leverage when planning donation campaigns or events. Don’t know much about SEO? Ask someone. People love to share their expertise, and there are also a lot of websites that offer free advice regarding marketing and SEO tips. Just give it a Google!
4. Be eventful
Literally. Have an event. But not just any event, have the event. Plan and execute events that bring your community together and put your organization face-to-face with potential and existing donors (call us old fashioned, but we believe face-to-face will always have the most impact). We understand that organizing events can be resource intensive (we’ve organized a conference or two) and an organization must definitely weigh the pros and cons of taking on an event, which is why we recommend using technology to help.
There are so many ways to promote your event and connect with attendees, and chief among them is Eventbrite or Ticketfi. Both offer a fantastic and easy-to-use event ticketing platform.
5. Speak from your heart, to your audience’s hearts
You’re a nonprofit and you exist to help people in need of support. You got into this industry because you want to make a difference. You are driven by the need to help, by the passion deep inside that makes you want to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
You. Are. Driven. To. Help.
So why not let the public know why your organization matters? Don’t you work at solving an important societal problem? Don’t you have stories that would make a poised adult weep like a child and then jump for joy when you recount the ways your organization has solved the problem? Share those stories often and share them where people are likely to care.
Chris Norman, strategy director at The Good Agency, has this to say on the matter: “People are by their nature communicative and inquisitive; storytelling is ingrained into our DNA. Digital channels allow people not just to engage with compelling stories, but be part of the story; interacting, sharing and influencing the outcomes. This sense of influence and belonging drives loyalty.”
6. Give all donors a moment in the spotlight
Got a big name donor? Tell everyone. Seriously. Grab that guy walking past your office window and tell him. Right now. Go! What are you still doing here?
We know that humans connect to heartfelt stories and that can be a powerful ally when trying to stand out among thousands of charities, but how often do you hear other nonprofits talk about their big donor?
There is bonafide research stating that when donors were informed that Bill and Melinda Gates donated to TechnoServe, the rate of donations skyrocketed to 22%. Those who weren’t told about Mr and Mrs Gates had a 0.9% likelihood of donating.
Don’t have a big name donor? That’s fine too. How about getting to know some repeat donors and first-time donors alike? Send an email and thank them or write a short, special thank you note that gets published on social media (with permission, of course).
These are just a few of the underutilized ways charities and nonprofits can help themselves stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape. The nonprofit space is undergoing changes, and I hope that some of these tips can help you and your cause stay ahead of the curve and thrive in order to keep building the support your cause deserves.
Chris Martin is a former social support worker who now works as Marketing Coordinator for Charity Republic, a company specializing in promoting volunteerism and community engagement via accessible and efficient technology solutions.
Please note: While we ensure that all links and email addresses are accurate at their publishing date, the quick-changing nature of the web means that some links to other websites and email addresses may no longer be accurate.