Commentary

Clever Ways Nonprofits Can Gain Local Support

As markets become more fragmented and the charitable landscape grows, a critical part of staying relevant is fine-tuning the way nonprofits gain local awareness to drive donations. Without doing so, an established nonprofit runs the risk of losing its share of voice to others who prioritized transformation.

This proved to be especially true for the local chapter of Make-A-Wish® Central and South Texas. Although part of Make-A-Wish America, the central and south Texas chapter is its own 501c3 and operates almost independently from its larger foundation -- attempting to fund 300+ wishes for local wish kids who are battling critical illnesses.

The “Donate Your Birthday Wish” campaign was organized around the following insights: Personal connection helps increase people’s likelihood to donate, September is the most-populated birthday month, and Facebook remains one of the highest-used social platforms of the target demographic. The concept encouraged people to donate their birthday wish to fund a wish for a Wish Kid.

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From this experience, here are a few tactics other organizations with slim budgets can adopt to deploy a successful local outreach strategy.

Lean heavily on digital and social platforms to reach your consumers.  The latest tax legislation reduced incentives for individual giving, which will likely have a larger impact on nonprofits’ bottom line going forward. To get around this, offer your donors multiple ways to give back by using social and digital tactics that offer personalized and simplified ways to donate and help optimize your fundraising goals.

Understand your target audience’s behaviors and intent/motivations to find relevance on social platforms, much as we did for the Make-A-Wish “Donate Your Birthday Wish” on Facebook.

Leverage influencers and local partners to spread awareness.  Another way in which nonprofits can transform their brands and elevate crowdfunding tactics is by enlisting the support of influencers or brand ambassadors. Influencers can be anyone who is considered credible, from well-known local news or political personalities, rising celebrities, or even donors and volunteers. It’s these rising stars who will likely have more bandwidth, be less constrained by contractual agreements, and resonate more with an organization’s audience to offer a more fruitful partnership.

Tap into donated media to amplify your message.  We’ve all seen the ASPCA TV spot showing abused animals in a shelter with a Sarah McLachlan’s song playing in the background. It’s heartbreaking but effective because of its strong message and because it runs frequently. If an organization has a larger mass-media message to share, consider asking local broadcast stations or publications to run or post content on slower news days or in local programming. Knowing what local and regional media your organization has to leverage will help inform your scope of work and broaden your reach.

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