The digital revolution has brought about some big changes in how effective nonprofit branding, marketing communications and fundraising is done. If your nonprofit has not yet embraced these changes, you’re going to soon become irrelevant. That would be sad, because it’s eminently avoidable.
So… let’s examine three of the memes du jour – (1) content marketing; (2) storytelling, and (3) social media – and see how you can use them together to wrap up your nonprofit’s vision, mission and values messaging in one nice big bow.
3 Ways to Integrate Your Nonprofit’s Branding and Fundraising
Let’s begin with your gift of content marketing.
1. What is content marketing and what can it do for you? “Content marketing” is buzz-worthy because without it, you’ve got nothing. You’re just a box with nothing inside. Kids like to play with boxes; most folks — when they grow up — are looking for something of value inside the box.
That’s your content. Your brand. What you offer a potential constituent. What you’re all about. Figure out what you do that may be of interest to your target audiences. Develop a content marketing strategy. The content matters. A lot. You’ve no doubt heard the adage “content is king.” But guess what? The box also matters.
2. Put your content into a lovely storytelling box.
Too many nonprofits try to persuade people with facts. Guess what? This doesn’t work well. Feelings first, facts later. There are no exceptions to the rule that you must awaken the heart to arouse the mind. You must move someone emotionally before they’ll take in information – or act. You can’t spout information until you touch the heart. Speak to the soul so the facts have a fighting chance.
Stories get your message across. They’re the easiest way to solve your content marketing challenges. We’re all story people. I can cite you the research, and I do in my blog. Stories are the oldest form of human communication – before writing! We’re wired to understand the world through stories. If you can’t engage your audiences through storytelling, whatever you’re trying to accomplish will wither and die. So even if your message doesn’t start out as a story, find one to tell. Wrap your message in a story that your audience will empathize with and find stimulating and relevant.
Let me say that again, because it’s super important! If you want it to quickly connect and deeply resonate with your target audiences, put your content in the form of a story. Got it? Take your very best content and put it into the familiar structure of “once upon a time… there was a protagonist… who endured certain travails… and encountered various drams… until a hero could be found to swoop in and give the story a happy ending (with your donor’s help, of course).
3. Let’s wrap it up with a nice big social media bow.
Social media helps you disseminate your story far and wide. Think of the various social networks as different campfires around which your audiences are gathered – waiting to be captivated. Choose one or more of these networks as venues for sharing your stories.
What gives your gift cohesion in our digitally revolutionized society is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing means that once you’ve created great content that aligns with your constituencies’ values and will naturally pull folks toward your organization and mission, you then publish that content with your constituents’ interests in mind. You go where they are. And you engage with them in a manner in which they’d like to be engaged.
In other words, content marketing, storytelling and social media are your branding strategy, fundraising strategy and relationship-building strategy all rolled into one integrated package. What a lovely gift for your constituents!
Things used to be a lot messier, and a lot less constituent-friendly. Content used to be all about you. Very ego-centric stuff. Today, your content better channel the voice of your constituents. What they need. Who they are. How they feel.
You don’t write a newsletter article about your latest award or newest board member. Boring. Only you care. How, instead, could you put that type of content into a story format that would compel folks to gather ‘round your campfire? How can you create some drama? What value or impact that’s relevant to your reader caused you to win that award? What about this new board member might resonate with your reader? If you can’t find relevance or resonance, go someplace else for your content.
Your stories should be about your potential supporters. Lead them along a path that persuades them to join you on your journey. Give them hints about the roles they can play. Let them choose among several characters – ambassador, advocate, volunteer or donor. Or simply share their personal stories to make them feel super-engaged with your mission.
Serialize your story by repeating bits and pieces via social media. Then add new twists and turns that keep folks coming back for more.
Frequently engage your constituents so they become used to being active characters in your story. Don’t stop with your first piece of content. Offer more content based on what folks seem to like most. Engage people by asking them what they want or asking them to share what they like. Thank them when they do what you ask.
Do you see how simple this is? It all begins with a shift in thinking. From outbound to inbound. From pontificating to sharing. From ego-centric to constituent-centric.
Ultimately, you’ll achieve success when you align your values with your constituents’ values. When the content you offer is content they can use. When you make your story their story.
If You Want Gifts You Must Give Them
The digital revolution has made it possible – even easy – for nonprofits to offer their constituents gifts on a regular basis. Gifts of useful content. Gifts of inspiring stories. Gifts of ways folks can become involved in becoming who they really want to be in the world. Use these three memes du jour in this manner and you’ll not only stay relevant; you’ll become more and more relevant with every post, tweet, pin and group discussion. Now that you’ve thoughtfully selected your gift, placed it in a lovely box and wrapped it up with a bow, sit back and watch folks open and enjoy your gifts!
Your brand is your promise. Promise folks a meaningful place on the world stage.