Passing the Word: Getting Supporters to Share your Cause

The fundraiser—whether it’s an inspired event, online appeal or one-time contest—should of course be considered an important component of any non-profit’s campaigning effort. However, ask any NPO media guru what’s the difficult part of generating interest in said fundraiser and their answer will no doubt involve achieving a well-canvassed publicity campaign: in short, you can create the concept, but you need to encourage supporters to pass the word.


However, it’s important to first be honest: in today’s go-go world, it’s difficult for even the most cause-dedicated people to find the time to fully immerse themselves in a charity they’re passionate about. People are busy, and while they may certainly visit your website or Facebook page to donate funds or set aside a day to attend a fundraising mixer or the like, counting on them to help raise awareness is an iffy wager. And too often fundraisers fail to meet hopes and expectations simply because engaging the individual proved easy, but engaging the masses proved difficult.

It all comes down to one word: sharing. So whether you’re a frustrated social media manager or an executive director unsure of how to leverage the capabilities of the supporters you already enjoy, consider these strategies.

  • Build your campaign around the concept of letting the community create the content. For instance, ever get swept up in the Facebook videos that automatically play as you scroll through your feed page? Create a timeline contest that encourages people to craft videos and photo sets boosting your fundraiser. It’s an easy way to spread the word across social media (Instagram offers a similar contest opportunity.)
  • Lean on your core supporters. Identify your top one percent of givers—those that donate both time and money—and hold a private meetup whether in person or on an invitation-only Facebook Group page. Foster the deepest connection you can make with these people, and encourage them to submit ideas on long-term media campaigns as well as the annual or even one-time fundraising event. These are your champions, and they’ll be invaluable to your non-profit as you fight to expand and evolve.
  • Give them tools to help them succeed. These tools can be simple, such as examples of fundraising emails, social media posts, phone scripts and even official logos. These will allow them to do outreach and legwork when they have the time, and they’ll be more comfortable petitioning on your behalf as they’ll have the promotional content in hand.
  • A seasoned non-profit worker knows how to work traditional media channels, but your supporters may not. So don’t be stingy in offering tips on how to properly approach news outlets and achieve suggest in promoting a fundraiser. Again, give them the tools—in this case proper training and advice—and let them do the reaching out.

Of course, there are a few hidden dangers in making your supporters a de facto part of your non-profit’s team, so remember these points: make sure they’re aware of any civic or corporate relationships you already have in place so as not to create the embarrassing situation of a volunteer making a pitch to a long-time partner; ask them to first pass any bold sharing initiatives past your principal employees to ensure they aren’t straying from the party line; and always be generous in thanking them for their support, being careful never to take their efforts for granted and potentially alienating them from your cause.

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