With more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., the struggle to stand out is uncomfortably real for many, if not most, organizations. And beyond the sheer number of nonprofits who are reaching out to the same prospects, this struggle can seem heightened when your work addresses a more local or inconspicuous need, rather than an issue that’s top of mind for many across the country or around the world.
Regardless of your mission statement, there are steps that all organizations can take to capture people’s attention and hearts. Here are a few ways your nonprofit can make sure it stands out, appeals to its audience, and attracts donors.
1. Make Your Story Relatable
To attract donors, you need to implement good storytelling to capture people’s hearts and minds. No matter your mission statement, a well-crafted story can help people relate to your work, core values, and the people you serve. This relatability is the first step to getting potential supporters to invest in your brand and take up your mission as their own.
As you craft your storyline, think about why you started your organization in the first place. Ask yourself:
- Why do we do the work that we do?
- How does our mission directly impact the people, things, and communities it serves?
- What would happen if we didn’t do our work?
For example, let’s say your organization cleans and restores rivers. When asked, “Why do you do the work that you do?” Your answer likely goes beyond, “To provide the local community with access to clean rivers.” What’s possible when people can access clean rivers? What’s impossible when they can’t? Perhaps families and children wouldn’t be able to access clean water and entire ecosystems would be negatively impacted—not to mention, the inability to spend time at these sites would cause favorite family traditions and local activities to be lost.
When your story helps potential supporters identify with your work and beneficiaries, you have a better chance of helping your cause become personally meaningful to them.
Another good example comes from the Global Heritage Fund (GHF), who works to preserve cultural heritage sites in developing areas. Their website does a great job of showing how their cause goes “beyond monuments” to actually create economic opportunities, teach job skills, and power sustainable change within disadvantaged communities. By demonstrating how their work extends to impact real people, GHF makes their cause relatable to those who may not be as passionate about history.
2. Prioritize Design
To attract donors and keep their attention, beautiful, intuitive design is an absolute must. As people are continuously inundated with content, it only takes a few moments for them to glance through your website, emails, or other communications to decide whether it’s worth their time.
In fact, when readers are given only 15 minutes to consume content, 66 percent would opt to look at something beautifully designed rather than plain. Thirty-eight percent of people will stop engaging entirely if the content’s layout or imagery is unattractive.
Make beautiful design a priority and build a website that’s easy to navigate, and carry that attractive, branded look and feel throughout your social media assets, emails, and direct mailings. And if you’re nervous that good design is only possible for nonprofits with tons of design resources, it’s time to put that self-doubt to rest. Check out our infographic on design myths to learn how any organization can create an awesome visual experience for their supporters.
3. Show Off Your Personality
Beyond your hard work and mission, a great way to stand out among the crowd and attract donors is to show off your brand’s personality and sense of humor. When you let your fun side show, you can delight current and potential supporters and create positive emotional associations with your brand that encourage long-term loyalty.
Consider crafting a humorous email campaign, lighthearted social media image or post, or a video that highlights the real people behind your brand and their personalities.
Barbells for Boobs does a fantastic job of putting a delightful twist to their staff page on their website. By showcasing each team member’s personality in their fun personal blurbs, the entire brand leverages the power of humor and creates that personable connection with supporters.
4. Get Creative With Your Fundraising Events and Campaigns
A wild, unconventional fundraising campaign idea can do wonders to generate buzz and attract donors. No matter your mission statement, you can spice things up by thinking outside the box for your next campaign or event.
Take this creative example from Episcopal Retirement Homes (ERH), an organization that offers senior living communities and community services to older adults. They drummed up excitement and donations with their 2015 “Over The Edge 4 Elders” event, during which fundraisers rappeled down the side of a 10-story building. One of the star participants? A 94-year-old senior.
Get your team together to brainstorm unique fundraising ideas for your next campaign. As the conversation kicks off, don’t be limited by what you’d expect to be impossible or improbable when it comes to your audience or the people you serve. Sometimes the ideas out of left field are the winners.
Whether your organization addresses hunger or cancer, or works to solve a more localized issue, there are strategies you can use to attract your target audiences. Bring your organization’s story to life, hunker down on design, and start thinking outside the box when it comes to your communications and campaigns. With dedication and creative ways to engage your audience in the way they want, you have every possibility to expand your reach and connect with new supporters.