I’ve worked with many nonprofit leaders who say things like, “I wish people knew about what we’re doing,” or “We’re the best kept secret.” There are many amazing organizations that do wonderful work but nobody knows about them, usually because they don’t have a plan. Here are five ways you can increase your organization’s visibility and reach the people who genuinely appreciate what you do.
Define Who You Are
Many organizations try to attract prospective donors or supporters without first being clear on what they do. Defining who you are means knowing what your mission is and being able to communicate it effortlessly to others. Take the time to create a definition that you, your staff and your board all understand. A clear definition builds a strong foundation so you can connect with people who value what you do. Think in terms of the ways you really matter to people and make a difference rather than long lists of data or accomplishments. Fine tune your definition so that it impacts people on a deeper level.
Nobody will know you exist if you don’t tell them. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising; you can do it by building relationships with key individuals and groups. Define your audience and begin getting to know people in those circles. Get recommendations of new people to talk with from your existing contacts. Use your current contacts to connect with possible new supporters. Get to know local media so you can be a go-to expert in your field of expertise or talk about your programs. Connect with other nonprofits so you can both raise your profile.
Use Social Media
What if I told you there is a way to connect with people right now who want to support your cause and help you spread the word and that it doesn’t cost a penny? I’ve heard nonprofit leaders fret about safety issues or content management with social media as they let a gigantic advertising opportunity slip between their fingers. Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to build an identity, increase your base of supporters and connect with people you may have never otherwise met and who have access to resources and contacts that can benefit your organization.
Make Connections with People Who Get It
The idea in making connections is to get to know the people who really “get it” about what you do rather than chasing those who never will or sending out random publicity hoping someone will bite. Take some time to define who your ideal supporter is. Who is your ideal donor, board member, partner or client? Once you understand who these people are you can start building relationships with them. Spend less time wishing you could connect with everyone and more time figuring out who really wants to help you. The people who currently support you are the best source of additional contacts and ideas for other people who also might be interested in participating in some way.
Design Smart Events
Many nonprofits spend a lot of time, money and people power designing big events that net proportionally few dollars for the amount of effort they require. What if you could host smaller events that target specific people in more meaningful ways? Think about what you could do to really show your stakeholders what your organization does. Plan events that cost you no money and don’t be afraid to create smaller events that mean more to important people rather than huge happenings where you hope someone will be inspired to donate or participate in some way.
Increasing the visibility of your nonprofit doesn’t have to be overly complex or difficult. Take some time to define what your organization does and who values your efforts and you’ll be on your way to sharing the great things you do with those who matter. Better yet, you’ll connect with the people who really care about what you do.