May 2020 – Lauriane Lebrun, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

According to Capital Business Solutions, “There has been a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of awareness campaigns and whether they’re worth it.  Unlike fundraising campaigns or volunteer recruitment, which can easily be measured, ‘awareness’ is nearly impossible to calculate.  While that is a valid point, it’s still worthwhile to raise awareness for your organization.  After all, if people don’t know about your nonprofit, how can they support you with donations or volunteer hours?”

Fundraisers are important, of course, but they can’t be your only awareness-building tool.  As mentioned above, potential supporters need to know you exist before they can make a donation. 

So, how do you get your name out there?

  • Boost Your Brand.  As Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone explain in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “a strong brand is increasingly seen as critical in helping to build operational capacity, galvanize support, and maintain focus on the social mission.”  This means consistency is key when it comes to your brand’s visual traits (logo, color palette, etc.), as well as your purpose, messaging, values, and so on.  If you think of your brand as a person, you want to make sure they have both a recognizable face and personality.
  • Get Social.  Did you know that 47% of Americans learn about causes via social media and online channels?  This has a lot to do with the fact that generating word-of-mouth buzz is great for raising awareness, and social media is word-of-mouth with a megaphone.  Instead of just telling ONE person about your organization by phone call or face-to-face conversation, a supporter can share something about your organization with ALL of their friends at once, without the need to get everyone physically in the same place at the same time. 
    • If your organization isn’t using social media yet, or you’re thinking about expanding to new platforms, there are plenty of Lexian Marketing & Communications articles you can check out here to help you get started.
  • Get Competitive.  Everyone loves a contest.  Here are some ideas you can try online and off:
    • Ask social media followers to share your promotional video/photo for a chance to win a gift card, merchandise, etc.
    • Invite followers to engage with you and one another by creating their own content.  Think ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or #MyGivingStory.  Reward the best submissions you receive by sharing them with your audience and giving the creators a shout-out.
    • Upload a photo and ask followers to give it a creative caption in the comments.  The comment with the most “likes” at the end is the winner.
    • Hold a race, tournament, or talent show.  The event is likely to attract competitive locals for its own sake, spreading the word about your organization to a wider audience along the way.
  • Use Awareness Days, Trending Topics, and Hashtags to Your Advantage.  While you shouldn’t start using a hashtag JUST because it’s trending, taking advantage of relevant hashtags is a great way to raise awareness.  For example, World Wildlife Fund tagged #InternationalPolarBearDay in a tweet on February 27th.  This raises awareness of WWF overall by capturing the attention of any polar bear lovers who might be browsing the hashtag. 
    • Not sure how to get started with hashtag marketing?  You can check out my #HowTo article here

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