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Elizabeth Chung
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What Earth Day Teaches Us About Engaging Supporters

Earth Day is 44-years-old and still making new strides. According to an online survey of over 900 US workers conducted by Harris Poll, 75% say they would insist upon change if they saw obvious wasteful practices at work. Nearly half (44%) said, “I would rather be unemployed than work for a company that’s knowingly harming the environment.” Clearly, people are interested in being greener.

But while these findings speak to the rise of environmental awareness, they also align with a much broader discussion circulating the social sector, no matter the cause or mission. People have charitable inclinations and are willing to rally around a cause. But how can nonprofit organizations respond to this eagerness to do good?

To help you get started, we’ve pulled together some pointers from these Earth Day findings.

Expose the “Villain”

The survey’s findings confirm that people are ready to fight for a cause if they see that a problem exists. People need to know what they’re up against. Millennials, especially, are firm believers they can save the world, and they are quick to respond to a clear, tangible enemy. But they first need to know the enemy is out there.

Whether it’s the global water crisis, poverty, or human trafficking, expose the adversary and tell your organization’s story in a compelling light. Hopefully by now, most organizations know that when it comes to eliciting an emotional response, visual storytelling is the ultimate way to connect a supporter to your cause. You can:

  • Show photos of the crisis on your blog
  • Upload photos on Instagram or Twitter of your program’s impact
  • Create and email a Youtube video of volunteers on the field
  • Film interviews with your program’s beneficiariesNo matter your organization’s story, bringing the villain to life will help people know what they’re up against and motivate them to attack the problem.

    So How Are We Going to Win?

    Back to the survey. In regards to environmental activism, it affirms that when people are aware of the scarcity of natural resources, they will feel empowered to demand greener solutions. This reflects a greater truth across the fundraising board: the more informed supporters are about your mission, the more motivated they are to get involved.

    And this information goes beyond educating people about an adversary. It’s one thing for supporters to know what they’re fighting. It’s another to know how they, with the help of your organization, will stay in – and win – the fight. Being transparent about fundraising efforts can make or break a supporter’s choice to donate or create a fundraising page. How are the funds being utilized, and how are they going to help move the needle for your organization?

    It is also critical to demonstrate the progress being made, whether on a specific campaign, on the ground, or towards your overall mission. Visual storytelling can apply here too. You can use photos, GPS, and real-time feeds to validate your organization’s advancements. And when people see that other supporters have already contributed to your mission, the desire to be part of a success story can motivate even your unlikeliest fundraisers to hop on and help score the winning goal.

    Move to Action

    Now that your supporters know what they’re up against and are more educated about your organization and its mission, you can sit back and watch the donations roll in, right?

    Not exactly. If you take a look at the environmental survey, while employees are keen to insist upon change, 46% still say they feel guilty that they’re not doing enough to help the environment. As with many aspirations in life, willingness doesn’t always translate into action. A lot of times this is because we don’t know the next step to take, and the excitement to act can eventually fizzle out. This is why it’s critical for you to get supporters excited, and then quickly provide them with ways to get involved.

    Offer a clear call-to-action across your communication channels, including your website, emails, and social media posts. Aside from a one-time donation, you can suggest year-round fundraising opportunities like pledging a birthday or holiday event, becoming a volunteer, or registering for the next race. These asks allow supporters to personalize the cause, deepen their emotional connection to your organization, and become a part of your empowered, year-round fundraising community.

    We were pleased to find the Earth Day movement could offer us some insight into engaging supporters, no matter the cause or mission. Your donors and fundraising community are ready to be engaged. Now’s the time to ignite their emotional connection to your cause, demonstrate how your organization is making waves, and show them how to get involved.


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    Image Credit: Unspalsh

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