Be Real with SupportersPeople don’t want to support 501(c) nonprofit organizations – they want to support passionate people who are working on causes they feel passionately about too. And yet, as nonprofit communicators, we often hide behind the façade of the organization.

It’s time to be real – to show your organization’s personality in your communications.

But the idea of your organization having a personality of its own can be a tough concept to grasp. You might be more comfortable thinking of it as your brand. No matter what you call it, it's essential to strong and meaningful communications, especially when you consider your social media strategy, where personality goes a long way.

Here’s another way to think about this: How do you want your organization to be perceived? Whether or not you think your organization embodies a certain kind of personality now, what would you like it to be?

The content you produce and share has a great deal of influence on the kind of personality traits your supporters would attribute to you.

Want to be known as helpful? I would focus my attention on understanding what’s hard for people, what bugs them, what problems they have, etc., and focus on content that directly addresses those needs.

Want to be known as caring? Create content with lots of storytelling that shows how your staff interact with people.

Want to be known as optimistic? Talk often about your hopes for the future and what you are doing to make that future brighter.

Want to be known as trustworthy? Be transparent about where you get your money and how you spend it, and even when you have bad news, share it in a timely, forthright way. Use testimonials from others to talk about the impact of your work.

Want to be known as friendly? Use the first and second person (I and You) in your writing, ask a lot of questions, and smile (even in writing).

Maybe you’d rather be known as competent, opinionated, rational, or tenacious. I blogged a list of 50 positive personality traits you could apply to your nonprofit, and suggest that you pick at least three words to describe your organization’s personality. You can share your three words in the blog post’s comments or on Facebook.

Once you know what your personality is (or what you want it to be), how do you show that personality in your communications? I offer seven ways to show off your nonprofit's personality -- including expressing opinions and making us laugh -- on my blog.

Want More?

Join us for these two webinars:

June 9: Funny Ha Ha! Using Humor in Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising

June 14: Get Real! Use Your Org's Personality to Build Rapport with Supporters

This article first appeared in Kivi's weekly Nonprofit Marketing Tips newsletter on June 6, 2011.