Connection, the ability to connect may contain some elements that appear to be magic. But even the most skilled magicians have a ‘go to’ kit which enables them to wow audiences again and again.
How to create connection – PART ONE
One of the greatest mistakes not for profits make in marketing is assuming that people will connect with them because they are doing good stuff.
With over 600,000 not for profit organisations in Australia alone there’s just too much ‘good stuff’ for any individual to connect with.
How can your organisation stand out?
I’ll say it again, it’s about creating a connection.
The first question that springs to mind is WHO are you connecting with.
Look, I’ve got to tell you there aren’t many NFP managers nor small business owners that I’ve worked with who DON’T tell me that everyone would be interested in their service / cause if they knew about it.
Let’s get the point out of the way here, that’s simply not true.
But we’re not going into a target market or niching conversation right now, rather let’s start by dividing your potential donors into three segments. (1) Your inner circle (2) lived experience supporters and (3) empathetic supporters.
1. Your inner circle
Put simply people who already know you, your fan club. They are past service users, existing donors, current and past staff, board members, volunteers and local supporters. They have a vested interest in your success and they probably love you already.
This group is important to your organisation and needs to be nurtured. Too often I’ve seen not for profits engage supporters and then burn them out. This is the group that should be the ‘first to know’ – and not the first to know about an upcoming working bee, the first to know about the success of your work, your exciting news, your challenges, your stories.
Engage them, nurture them, invite them to dinner and you’ll have supporters for life.
If you want to look at this purely through a business lens the fact is these individuals are the easiest and most cost effective market of donors to engage. They may not have the means to donate cash to your organisation but they will certainly donate good will and positive word of mouth if you take the time to stay connected in a meaningful and engaging way. But be careful that you don’t burn them out (I know, I said that already)
2. Lived experience supporters
The next layer are people who connect via their own experiences. This is where your marketing content (apologies for the business speak) becomes very important.
Small, Loewenstein and Slovic (2007) write that people are more likely to donate to a ‘single, identifiable victim’. But be careful about how much and what information you provide as the more rational your message becomes, the less generous your audience will be. People connect with stories, not statistics.
Let’s not get stuck in contempt on words such as ‘victim’ just yet, don’t worry, we’ll get to that nugget in another post soon.
The main point being a compelling and authentic story about WHO the donation is going to help is essential. Drawing out case studies of the individuals and not getting bogged down in the prevailing data behind the broader cause.
Don’t waste your time focusing on the copy about what good YOU do as an organisation, people might care but it hardly breaks through the clutter. Your audience wants to feel. And the fastest way to get them to feel is by telling them a story about another person.
3. Empathetic supporters
The next layer out are those who haven’t had a lived experience related to your cause, but for some reason (probably your story) an emotion is sparked, which if you’re lucky will create a connection. Getting to these people isn’t always the easiest thing, somehow your message needs to be seen (note, not necessarily read or heard) through the clutter of today’s world. But it is possible, just observe the Ice Bucket Challenge which has already generated well over $100MILLION.
(The Ice Bucket Challenge is an interesting addition to this conversation as it wasn’t the story that was at the forefront of the engagement campaign, that came later after the emotion of happiness, fear and perhaps excitement was engaged through the fun of the challenge).
Engaging this supporter is where your campaign begins to become viral. You can do this with wads of money or, you can do this over time, or you can do it with an incredibly sexy online marketing campaign that REALLY evokes an engaging emotional response.
Engaging this layer is when your fundraising leaves the realm of hundreds and thousands to hundreds of thousands.
Stay tuned for Part two…