When I sat in a room of public relations officers for colleges and universities and suggested that, in certain situations, they might want to let their students know about events happening on a rival campus across town, they all looked at me like I was a complete idiot.
When I suggested to a Girl Scout troop that they might want to mention other leadership and community service activities targeting school-age girls in their city on their own Facebook page, there was an uncomfortable silence on the phone, followed by throat clearing and a quick change of subject.
Why on earth, they were both thinking, would a nonprofit want to promote what another nonprofit — one competing for participants and funding — is doing? Why would we ever want to “send our people” elsewhere, is how others have phrased it.
Here’s why: Because people will come to know and love you as a trusted source who understands them and their needs, and who puts them first, rather than as a self-absorbed and selfish organization living in some imaginary bubble world where you are the only nonprofit working in your field and the only one talking to “your people.”
OK, that’s a little harsh, but some of you need a wake-up call.
This idea of knowing your target audience so well that you are able to sift through all the information, resources, and events out there produced by other nonprofits (and businesses for that matter), and recommend the best of it to your participants and supporters is, I believe, an essential part of your role as a professional marketer today. When you do that sorting, sifting, and sharing, it’s called “curating content” in today’s marketing language.
When you do it well, people love you for it, because you save them time and effort. You lead them places they would have never gone themselves, and they are grateful for the passport.
It also subtly lets people know that you are so confident in your own work, and in your position within your field or community, that you have no qualms about highlighting the good work of others.
Of course, you don’t want to spend all of your time sending your supporters elsewhere. But measured doses of promoting other people’s stuff is very, very good for you for the reasons I’ve mentioned above, and many others (like it saves you time, because you don’t have to create all the content yourself).
If you want more on curating content right now, skip on over to Beth Kanter’s Scoop.it page on Content Curation, the best single resource I’ve found so far on the topic for nonprofits. And yes, curating is just what I did there. I found something great, and shared it with you, and now aren’t you happy with me? 🙂