Whether it be the latest TikTok dance, Instagram live conversation, or a Facebook Challenge, influencers everywhere are taking to their chosen social media platforms to highlight brand partnerships. Skilled influencers have their own style and can easily incorporate either products or brand ideas into their usual content to captivate and inform their audience.
Ambassadors can take many forms outside of just influencers who might be the first to come to mind. Tap into your unique audience and base of support to find well-respected and knowledgeable individuals already in your network who may be willing to become a face for your brand.
Working with ambassadors can be helpful for reaching audience demographics that aren’t as active in your direct supporter community. Consider partnering with a variety of ambassadors to expand your reach and increase awareness of your cause. You may be able to target younger audiences through a youthful ambassador’s passion for your cause better than with your primary marketing tools that may target older audiences. To get started, this article will answer three questions nonprofits often have about working with ambassadors:
- What are ambassadors?
- How do ambassadors help with recurring gifts?
- How else do ambassadors help nonprofits?
If your target audience is already on social media, then utilizing ambassadors is the next step for earning their support. Ambassadors can point your supporters in the right direction by reminding them of giving holidays, showing their solidarity with your cause, and encouraging recurring donations.
What are ambassadors?
Ambassadors are similar to influencers for your cause, advocating on behalf of your organization and helping you reach your desired goals. They leverage their own networks to drive additional support for your mission. They are an important part of any nonprofit marketing strategy.
Ambassadors serve the dual purpose of driving brand awareness and helping your organization raise more funds. Using ambassadors can help with the traditional word-of-mouth nonprofit marketing strategy. Ideally you would choose people who are knowledgeable and passionate about your cause.
Consider recruiting individuals such as:
- Nonprofit leadership and board members
- Local public figures
- Social media influencers connected to your mission
- Your major or mid-level donors
- Any well-connected supporters
Your chosen ambassadors can use their respected knowledge and experience to speak about your nonprofit to their in-person and online networks whether that be on event panels, social media, a blog, or their newsletter. Hearing your ambassadors speak about your nonprofit and watching them take initiative for your cause will encourage their networks to become a part of your organization’s community.
How do ambassadors help with recurring gifts?
Ambassadors for your cause are dedicated to helping you reach your goals. There are a number of ways your ambassadors can support your recurring gift program:
- They can share your recurring donation page.
- They can discuss the benefits of recurring donations with followers.
- They can post consistently, encouraging followers to continue giving on a regular basis.
If your goal is to increase funding through recurring gifts, explain that to your ambassadors! Train them on how to engage their followers and create opportunities to encourage them to sign up for your recurring donation program.
Keep in mind that attracting recurring gifts won’t fully fall on ambassadors. You’ll also need to make sure your recurring gifts are easily accessible for your supporters and that you’re stewarding supporters to drive retention.
According to Double the Donation’s guide to donor retention, it’s much less costly to retain donors than to acquire new ones. Have your ambassadors focus on speaking to your already established donor audience. Invite your ambassadors to speak at community partner events, in the nonprofit’s social media groups, or make a video showing the work your organization is achieving.
With a little extra training and their own insider knowledge, your ambassadors can speak to donors more personally while still providing information about your nonprofit. Talk with your ambassadors about your short-term and long-term goals. If you are trying to build out your monthly giving program by attracting recurring donors, ask them to talk about their own contributions to your cause.
Once a donor joins your recurring giving program, have your ambassadors switch from solicitation to cultivation content to support your newly upgraded donors’ interest in your cause.
This is a good time to put some boots on the ground and have your ambassadors show supporters the real impact of monthly gifts. They can talk about their “why” of getting involved with your cause and how they have changed since becoming part of the initiative. They can highlight information about what monthly gifts go toward and how they add up to a larger impact within your organization.
How else do ambassadors help nonprofits?
Some activities your ambassadors might help with include:
Serving as a Community Representative
Your ambassadors can connect with their community in a variety of ways, such as:
- Attending in-person events. If your ambassador is focused on in-person event support, encourage them to attend community partner events and speak about their work with the organization. Ambassadors can also call and motivate their personal network to contribute to your cause.
- Spreading awareness. Your ambassador’s work can also be awareness driven, and if they are already great at getting out and about in the community, encourage them to find ways to talk about your cause. This could mean attending partner events, posting general awareness content, hosting live cause-based discussions, or leading their own small events.
- Partnering with community organizations. Ambassadors can visit local schools, give guest lectures at colleges, or table at your next community festival. By showing up to events with the intention of spreading awareness of your cause, ambassadors demonstrate your nonprofit’s eagerness to make a change.
Wearing merchandise and advocating for your brand
Your ambassadors can promote your nonprofit with ease by wearing your branded merchandise whenever they go out. When people see them with the branded merchandise in-person or online, this strengthens your brand recognition and may pique the interest of inquisitive supporters.
Merchandise can be a great conversation starter, and everyone loves a free t-shirt! Don’t be afraid to send out some merchandise. The effect is passive, but the more people who see the brand the better.
Sharing your fundraisers with their social media followers
Rally new and dedicated donors through your ambassadors’ social media accounts. Sharing graphics with your fundraiser’s information can be great, but you can go the extra mile by having your ambassadors create and share videos of themselves speaking about the fundraiser to put a friendly face on your campaign.
They can post their personal fundraising page links to request donations, or inspire their network to start their own fundraising page for your organization.
Ambassadors can host a Facebook or Instagram live event answering questions or completing tasks based on donor pledges. Integrate ambassador posts into your marketing strategy, and have them direct donors to your nonprofit’s website and donation pages. Adding a link to your website in their bio is a great way to direct donors to your organization.
Ambassadors can also post social media challenges based on supporting your nonprofit, encouraging donors to interact with your nonprofit and post about it on their own profiles. Be sure that they are encouraging donors to tag the nonprofit, and conversely be sure to have share buttons on your donation pages that enable donors to share their contribution easily.
Keeping track of multiple ambassadors can be a challenge, but your CRM can help you monitor their efforts and stay in contact at all times. CharityEngine’s roundup of the top nonprofit CRMs recommends taking your upcoming initiatives into account when investing in a new CRM. If you’re planning to partner with your first ambassador, now might be the time to assess whether your CRM has the features you’ll need to make the most of this opportunity to further your recurring gifts program.
Ambassadors can help you show the heart of your organization and demonstrate the mission and core values of your organization. Nonprofit ambassadors can win over their own community by inspiring them with their passion for your cause and the effort they put in to help you achieve your goals, which will ultimately merge your communities into one.
About the author:
Philip Schmitz is the CEO and founder of cloud-services leader BIS Global, creators of the CharityEngine fundraising & communications technology platform. Founded in 1999, Phil has managed the vision and strategy for BIS’s suite of integrated business applications & hosting tools used by more than 400 businesses & non-profits.