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How to Rally Donors Around Mental Health Awareness Day

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By Robert Carnes

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Published September 5, 2022 Reading Time: 5 minutes

World Mental Health Day falls in October each year. This year the global opportunity to acknowledge our growing mental health crisis will fall on October 10, 2022.

Even if mental health isn’t a natural part of your nonprofit mission, we have a number of ideas for how you can engage your donors on World Mental Health Day this year and beyond.

Why Mental Health Matters for Your Nonprofit

Mental health impacts everyone. This is not a single nonprofit issue—it’s a challenge for all people, across all backgrounds. It’s been shown that 20% of American adults experience mental health issues during their life, and that number is only increasing. Here are a few reasons why mental health should be a priority for any nonprofit.

  • You can increase mental health awareness. There’s a reason the word “awareness” is in the name—because the goal is to let more people know about how important and prevalent the issues are. When your organization joins the conversation, it’s only strengthening the cause and helping spread helpful information to people who need to know it.
  • Staying aware helps you prevent burnout: Too many nonprofit leaders and volunteers leave their mission because they’re too exhausted to continue. Keeping mental health at the forefront of your organization helps to keep that from happening before it’s too late.
  • You can facilitate important conversations: One probable cause for mental health becoming such a prominent focus is our long-held stigma surrounding it. It wasn’t long ago that talking about depression or seeing a therapist was considered unusual, or even a weakness. Taking mental health conversations into the mainstream helps normalize the experience.
  • It helps you prioritize your team’s retention: Talking about mental health doesn’t just benefit the people your nonprofit serves, but also the leaders within your organization. Odds are that some of your team members or volunteers might be feeling the impact of mental health issues. According to research, 52% of people who need mental health care don’t seek out help. Lead by example by holding some of these conversations internally and providing your team with a safe space to ask for support.

World Mental Health Day is also an opportunity to learn from the example of others. Watch what other nonprofits are up to and how other community leaders speak on the issue. For example, Classy embeds mental health and wellness directly into their culture to lead by example. Joining a larger cause connect you to other great organizations with a common mission.

7 Ideas for Nonprofit Donor Engagement on World Mental Health Day

Eager to dive in, but unsure of how you can help? Follow this list of suggestions for starting small and growing your efforts. Don’t try to tackle each one this year. Pick one or two and see which one works best for your organization.

1. Plan a Meditation Event

Meditation is one way to help relieve stress and anxiety. Studies show that about 14% of US adults have tried meditation—meaning that another 86% of people are new to this practice. It may take some effort to get your team or beneficiaries used to meditation. Think about organizing a community meditation gathering with an expert to show your supporters how to meditate. There are many online meditation courses you can share with others digitally.

2. Write Letters of Encouragement

Since most of our communication today is digital, analog messages like handwritten notes mean a lot to people. Gather your volunteers or staff to write notes of gratitude for those who need it. When you’re thinking about who would love to receive such a note, think about your donors, your community partners, or those your nonprofit serves. Let them know you’re thinking about them and that they’re not alone in what they might be experiencing

3. Challenge Donors to Unplug

The National Day of Unplugging is another important day that prioritizes mental well-being in March each year. But you don’t need to wait until this day to challenge people to unplug. Take time away from your devices and the internet to give yourself time to rest and recharge.

Technology and social media usage are one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety across generations. Intentionally limiting mobile devices and internet access can foster better well-being in all people.

Like meditation, unplugging is a simple idea to understand, but much more difficult to put into practice. Challenge your team, donors, and community to follow this practice with better mental health as the goal. Go beyond just sharing on social media—since that sort of defeats the purpose.

Host an unplugged event where you briefly confiscate phones and other devices at the door. Partner with a local park to plan a community hike. Recommend good books that people could get from their local library to enjoy reading.

4. Partner with Mental Health Experts

There are a number of nonprofits working specifically in mental health. Your organization may have the opportunity to  partner with them to lead healthier habits. These nonprofits are likely in high gear during World Mental Health Day, and they’d appreciate your help to spread the word about their mission.

Cross-promote mental health charities on your social media channels. Share their resources with your community. Find any local mental health leaders, therapists, or counselors who could offer their expertise. Invite to speak at an event or webinar. Elevate their work and knowledge to benefit everyone in your community.

Need help finding these people? Search relevant hashtags on social media like #MentalHealth or #MentalHealthAwareness. Here are a few examples:

 

Instagram will load in the frontend.
@btwfoundation

Our communications intern, @ioanna shares how she practices forgiveness + self-compassion for #MentalHealthAwareness Month! Learn how to support your own + others’ mental health by earning your #BeThereCertificate today. 💛 (Link in bio!)

♬ Lazy Sunday - Official Sound Studio

5. Pack Donor Care Boxes

Take the idea of the thank you note to the next level with a mental health care package. You can send your donors boxes as a surprise after a recurring donation, at a live event, or as part of a giveaway for Mental Health Awareness day. Fill the box full of things supporting better wellbeing, like:

  • A stress ball
  • Herbal teas
  • A healthy snack
  • A mental health-related book
  • A QR code to a relaxing Spotify playlist

You can certainly add your nonprofit’s swag, but the goal isn’t to promote your organization. It’s to make your donors (or volunteers) smile and remember that they’re appreciated. Then mail these boxes out to the people in your community who could use it the most.

6. Host an Educational Event

Invite a local therapist to lead an educational event to share helpful tips to cope with everyday life stress. They can invite their audience and clients to join the event for networking, and you can provide funding through corporate sponsorships. The event’s goal should be to provide useful tips for better mental health practices. Awarness for any topic starts through education.

7. Share Mental Health Resources

Provide your community with resources they can use or give to friends and family. There’s no shortage of this content online if you’re willing to put in the time to look.

  • Find helpful resources (like tips or checklists) from mental health organizations
  • Collect ideas for relevant blog posts, books, podcast episodes, or videos
  • Share these with your network on social media, your blog, and through email marketing
  • Promote local events (either in-person or virtual) that people can attend

Contextualize each of these resources for your audience. Mention why these resources could be valuable to them and how it ties back to your nonprofit mission.

Here are a few more specific mental health resources your nonprofit should check out:

Is Your Organization Ready For Mental Health Awareness Day?

Mental health is an essential mission for any nonprofit because mental health impacts people everywhere—including your staff, volunteers, and donors. Leverage the annual awareness day as an opportunity to spread your mission in an empathetic and sustainable way.

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