Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Turning your cause into a community: Is this the way to nonprofit success?

Mark Rovner recently wrote about how ineffective nonprofits are at using digital media to acquire new donors. He poses that people have tuned out nonprofit marketing in the same way they've tuned out commercial messages. "Shock and awe" message techniques show diminishing return and just come across as inauthentic--not exactly the kind of feeling that retains or attracts supporters of your cause.

Like commercial companies, nonprofits do have to think of their supporters as consumers. Maybe it's a callous thing to say, but there are a lot of causes out there and there has to be something in it for a person to become not just a supporter, but a member of the cause. In this era where every ad is trying to engage the consumer, how do you make your cause not just a human-interest story but a user-driven story?

OYFP has sort of addressed this problem from the start, by forming long-standing partnerships with very local Boston nonprofits to create fundraising, awareness, AND volunteer opportunities. If we were to take that one step further along, maybe we can figure out a way to create more of an online community for our members after events through Facebook photo gallery re-caps, for example.

If you're a nonprofit looking to stir some interest, think about what value you provide and ways in which your members can gain a sense of ownership over their contribution, whether that's their time or money.


Casey said...

Great post, Liz. Very insightful. You do need to create a community around the non-profit - engage people, not just ask them for money. OYFP has had some success with this, particularly in the
Yelp community.

Liz said...

Another related article: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1005859&src=dp1_newsltr

Of the 15% of Internet users who use social media, 94% said in 2007 that they learn about social causes from their online communities.