When you work at a nonprofit, long hours and tons of responsibility go with the territory.
It’s not about making money or getting accolades; it’s about creating an impact.
You’re working hard, you’re making a difference. But your friends, family, and sometimes even colleagues don’t have a clear idea of what you do. They certainly don’t understand how much you’re pouring into your cause.
Does any of that sound familiar?
As the owner of a marketing agency that helps nonprofits eliminate confusion through clear messaging, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of organizations. I’m always impressed by the dedication and passion of the people working in the nonprofit sector. But I have also noticed that they often struggle to gain the recognition and support they deserve in their communities.
Challenges facing nonprofits
One of the primary challenges that nonprofits face when it comes to marketing is limited resources.
Many nonprofits operate on tight budgets, which means they have less money to devote to marketing and advertising efforts. This can make it difficult for them to get their message out and attract the attention of potential donors, funders, and volunteers.
Competition from the for-profit world
Competing with for-profit businesses for attention and resources is another major challenge for nonprofits. In a world where businesses are constantly vying for consumer attention, nonprofits can get lost in the noise. This is especially true when it comes to fundraising efforts. Donors and sponsors have limited funds, which for-profits will try to capture as much as possible.
Making matters worse, these are just the concerns that affect all organizations, including small businesses. Nonprofits face an uphill battle with their own unique challenges.
Balancing mission and marketing
For example, nonprofits must also strike a balance between mission-driven messaging and the desire to attract support. It can be difficult to effectively communicate the importance of your work and the impact you are having on your community while also making an emotional appeal to potential donors.
Another factor that can hold your nonprofit back from gaining the recognition you deserve is a failure to self-promote. If you work in the nonprofit sector, you are likely deeply committed to your cause and are driven by a desire to make a positive impact in the world. However, you may not be as comfortable with the idea of self-promotion as someone in a for-profit business. You may even feel that it is not in line with your values or mission.
This reluctance to self-promote can be a self-imposed struggle for nonprofits. It can prevent you from effectively communicating the value of your work and the impact you are having. While it is important to be humble and modest, it is also okay to take credit for the good work that your nonprofit does and to share your successes with others. By promoting your work, you can inspire others to get involved and support your efforts.
Share your successes and the credit
Sharing your success stories helps build trust because it allows people to see the impact that your organization is making. When people see that a nonprofit is achieving its goals and making a difference in the world, they are more likely to trust the organization and feel confident in supporting it. This is especially true when you are transparent about your work. Share specific examples of the positive impact you are having.
By sharing your successes, you let people see the good work that you’re doing. In turn, they may be more motivated to volunteer their time, donate money, or advocate for your cause. But share the credit as well. Supporters are part of your work! This can help to build a sense of community and support around your organization, which can be crucial for its long-term health.
Build trust to inspire support
Ultimately, sharing your success is about more than just promoting your work. It’s about building trust and connection with your supporters and the broader community. By being open about your achievements, you can inspire others to join you in your mission and work together to make a positive difference in the world. So, it’s always a good idea for nonprofits to share their successes and build trust with their supporters.
You need to strike a balance between being humble and being proud of your accomplishments. You do that by sharing the credit: your supporters make your work possible!
By being more proactive in promoting your work, your nonprofit can gain the recognition and support it deserves and continue to make a positive impact in your community.
Recognition doesn’t just feed your ego
Why is it so important to gain recognition in your community? The impact of under-recognition on nonprofits can be significant. When your nonprofit struggles to gain visibility and support, you may have difficulty attracting volunteers and donors. That can hinder your ability to fulfill your mission and achieve your goals.
Limited recognition can also make it harder for nonprofits to build partnerships and collaborations, as you may not be as visible to potential partners.
What’s the solution?
So what can be done to improve recognition for your nonprofit?
Owned media for nonprofits
It’s important to leverage low-cost marketing channels to reach a wider audience. By building a strong online presence and engaging with followers on social media, you can attract new supporters and raise awareness of your work.
In marketing, we call channels like your website and social media posts owned media. These channels are important because you control the content and can build them out by investing time, and not just money.
Earned media for nonprofits
It’s also important to leverage earned media, which is the buzz you start to get when community champions start to share your messaging for you.
A key way to kickstart your earned media is by reaching out to your local network. Building relationships with local media outlets and influencers can be a powerful way to increase recognition for your nonprofit. By working with journalists and influencers who have a large following, you can get your message out to a larger audience and attract more support.
Tell stories to attract attention
Another key part of your strategy for improving your nonprofit recognition is to use storytelling and emotional appeals to connect with your audience. By sharing stories about the people and communities that you serve, you can create a sense of connection and inspire people to take action.
Work together with other nonprofits
Finally, collaborating with other nonprofits and community organizations can be an effective way to increase recognition for your own organization. By working together, nonprofits can pool their resources and reach a larger audience, which can help to raise awareness and support for their causes.
To be effective with this approach, it’s important to have a very clear message about what you do and who you serve. In local communities, a lack of clarity of purpose can confuse your audience, especially if there are similar organizations in your network.
Recognition in a nutshell…
We both know that nonprofits play a vital role in addressing social issues and improving the lives of people in their communities. However, they often struggle to gain the recognition and support they deserve.
As a nonprofit, you can start to increase your recognition by:
- leveraging affordable marketing channels
- building relationships with media outlets and influencers
- using storytelling and emotional appeals
- collaborating with other organizations
If you can nail these tactics, you can improve your nonprofit’s recognition and position yourself to do even more good. As a marketing specialist, I help organizations with these things all the time. But the best way to start is to get comfortable with self-promoting. Share your success yourself, and develop a clear message for your community.
If you take one thing away from this article, remember, you’re doing good work; it’s okay to brag about it.
Aron Murch is the Co-Owner and CIO of 2H Media. Aron helps nonprofits improve their visibility by building video-driven websites that reduce confusion and encourage engagement. Leveraging close to 20 years of marketing experience, Aron oversees and implements crucial strategic projects for nonprofits.