How many sentences of this introduction will you read? How long can this paragraph hold your attention? According to Treetop Therapy’s attention statistics, the human attention span is eight seconds, dropping by 25% over the past few years.
Between volunteer recruitment, community partnership appeals, spreading awareness, and donation and follow-up requests, your nonprofit practically revolves around effective communications. The trouble is, almost every nonprofit is highly communicative.
In a time of heightened cell phone and social media usage, it’s no wonder brains are filtering out marketing messages, including those from your nonprofit—there’s a mess of them!
So how do you make your marketing efforts stand out? In this guide, we’ll explore four ways your nonprofit can make its messages unforgettable:
- Choose the right marketing channels
- Market to a target audience
- Promote your nonprofit’s story
- Advertise relevant and valuable information
When you adjust your marketing efforts to capture more than eight seconds of a supporter’s attention, your nonprofit will stand out and garner more support for your cause. Learn how to do just that by employing the following strategies.
To reach your audience, you need to start by figuring out where they can be reached. Getting Attention’s guide to digital marketing recommends using a multichannel approach to maximize your reach. Try leveraging the following channels:
- Social media: Since your supporters are likely already on social media for a few hours each day, these sites are a great place to get your nonprofit on users’ minds. Your content may get a simple “like” or quick comment, but you’re gaining the visibility needed to pave the way for more engaging communications.
- Email: Newsletters or other longer communications allow nonprofits to build out their messages; send emails to provide supporters with more detailed updates about the nonprofit’s work, upcoming events, and ways supporters can get involved.
- Direct mail: Which would be more attention-grabbing: an announcement from your doctor’s office warning that their list of accepted insurance policies is changing or a direct letter listing your outstanding payments? People listen more closely to messages that are personalized to them, and few communications are more personal than a physical letter. Use direct mail to thank supporters for their involvement, recruit more help, or simply update them on your important work.
Think about nonprofit marketing efforts like exercise. If you want to build muscle, you first need to identify where you want to bulk up or which muscle group you want to focus on. You’ll also need to consistently exercise to see real results.
In the same way, one marketing message won’t cut it for your nonprofit. To yield real results, you’ll need to regularly send communications and consistently keep your supporters in the loop. Remember, you’re not looking for readers, but subscribers.
Reaching out on the right channels is important, but within those channels, you must also reach out to the right people. Narrow down your audience to identify the supporters who will be the most receptive and valuable to your cause.
Donor research can help you learn more about your target audience, allowing you to connect with them more deeply through your marketing efforts. Try to learn more about your donors than just their names and contact information by researching their:
- Community involvement
- Family members or social circles
These factors can influence who you reach out to and how you approach them. For example, if you know someone who has a history of volunteering, you might first send them messages about your volunteer program rather than donation requests. Specifying your target audience lays the groundwork to develop appealing content.
Of course, reaching out to the right audience is only effective if your message is compelling. You’ll also need to make your message engaging, and the key way to do this is by telling your nonprofit’s story.
Think about the crucial elements of your nonprofit’s story, such as:
- Main characters: You might tell the inspiring story of your nonprofit’s founders, beneficiaries who have been helped by your organization, or past volunteers who have accomplished significant work.
- Setting: Cultivate a feeling of community pride by explaining how your nonprofit helps a locality, state, nation, or even the world.
- Conflict: Why does your nonprofit exist? What is the issue it aims to address? Emphasize the severity of the issue to explain why your work is so important.
- Core message: Your story, no matter how you tell it, should always point back to your nonprofit’s efforts to fulfill its mission according to its values. Let your core values take center stage as the solution to the problem presented in the story.
Attention spans can be affected by a person’s emotional engagement, which is why storytelling techniques can so effectively capture the attention of prospective supporters. Your organization’s unique story will stand out from other nonprofits’ because it’s yours! No other organization has your background, your staff members, or your impact. When told through a compelling story, these unique elements will speak volumes to your target audience.
Just like the compelling nature of storytelling, relevant and valuable information will also capture your audience’s interest. Meyer Partners’ guide to nonprofit marketing warns that donors may be frustrated by a sole focus on asking for money and distance themselves from your mission if you only send them donation requests.
Since your website is a hub for information about your organization and its cause, it’s a great place to provide highly sought-after information. Your homepage should immediately capture visitors’ attention and also encourage readers to click through your additional pages for valuable information about your organization, such as:
- Cause and mission
- Core values
- Volunteer opportunities
- Upcoming events
- Active board members
Draw attention to your website with tools such as Google Ads. When you leverage the Google Ad Grant program (or hire an agency to manage it for you), your nonprofit’s website will reap the benefits of increased visibility. Use Google Ads and other advertising opportunities to promote your volunteer program, educational content, an ongoing campaign, or any other page on your website.
No matter which channels you use or how you structure your content, create marketing content that speaks to your audience by recognizing their point of view and keeping their needs in mind. When you appeal to your target audience with unique content on the right channels, you’ll quickly capture their attention and keep your cause top of mind even after they click away from your message.