We recently started working with a healthcare nonprofit that wanted to take a fresh approach to its communications and marketing content.
The nonprofit had seen attendance at its community events slip over the past two years — and its fundraising revenues had declined.
After a quick review of its website, marketing materials, and social-media accounts, it was easy to diagnose a major reason why the organization had been struggling.
The nonprofit was positioning itself — not its donors, or volunteers, or even its doctors — as the central figure in almost every piece of communications.
In turn, it was failing to capture the imagination of the people it relies on to provide life-saving services in its community.
This well-meaning nonprofit had all of the right tools to successfully market its programs and solicit donations. It had a consistent and well-constructed content calendar, a segmented email list, and a top-notch CRM.
But its communications were falling flat because it was casting itself as the hero in its own story.
This is a common problem at nonprofits large and small — and it’s easy to understand why.
The people who work at nonprofits are often quite heroic. They’re fighting diseases, feeding the hungry, and addressing injustice.
And when they try to convince potential donors to support this life-changing work, it’s only natural that they will talk about their important work and the impact they are making.
However, this approach is often ineffective on its own.
The nonprofits that are most successful at building a base of passionate supporters do so because they are adept at positioning these supporters as the real heroes.
These organizations understand that their work is about much more than them. It’s more about their audiences — the donors, activists, and volunteers they rely on.
They don’t use their content to promote themselves. Instead, they use it to build connections with their supporters.
If your content isn’t getting the desired result, it’s likely because your materials are focusing too much on yourself — and not enough on the people you’re trying to reach.
The good news is you can fix this problem.
Here are 3 simple things you can do with your content to take the spotlight off your organization — and place it on your supporters.
Tell Their Stories
Your donors and volunteers are extraordinary people. And, quite often, the story behind why they support your organization is inspiring.
Find ways to highlight these amazing stories in your communications.
Make a donor story the focus of your next fundraising email. Spotlight a volunteer on your blog. Share a photo of a supporter on Facebook and thank her for making a difference.
If you’re producing content, make sure you’re weaving stories about your supporters and volunteers into that content regularly.
This simple step will change the tone of your content — and send a strong signal to your supporters that they matter!
‘Because of You’
A simple phrase can make a big difference when you’re talking about your nonprofit’s impact.
Most nonprofits talk about the number of meals they’ve provided or the number of lives they’ve touched. But they often do so through their own eyes.
But consider the subtle, but important, difference that comes from changing this sentence:
“We provided healthy meals to 2,500 people in our community in 2017.”
“Because of you, 2,500 people in our community had healthy meals in 2017.”
Selectively injecting this phrase into your content can help take the focus off of your organization — and place it on the reader.
Help Them Share
Your supporters are you best ambassadors.
A simple Facebook message or peer-to-peer fundraising ask from a donor or volunteer on your behalf can inspire their friends and family to take action on your behalf.
But many supporters don’t know how to help.
To encourage them, think about creating content that shows them how they can take action on your behalf.
For the healthcare nonprofit mentioned earlier, we’ve been creating email marketing messages that show how they can use personal stories about their experience with the nonprofit to inspire their friends to contribute to an upcoming fundraising walk.
These instructional messages are helping these supporters think about their connection to the organization. In turn, they are inspiring walk participants to share touching stories about how the organization has helped them or a loved one.
No matter your mission, it’s important to take a fresh look at your content from time to time to ensure that you are positioning your supporters — and not your organization — as the hero.
Remember, it’s about your audience. It’s not just about you!