How to Get Your Community Eagerly Involved with Your Nonprofit

Do you want to recruit more volunteers? Donors? Good board members? Motivated staff? Advocates? Do you want the community to get excited about being involved with your nonprofit? Of course, you do. The question then is “how can I position my nonprofit so that I find good people eager to help meet my agency’s mission?” 

Make It About Them

As we discussed in How to Make Your Nonprofit A Household Word, start by focusing your messages toward the groups you want to reach. Talk to them about meeting their needs and their goals instead of how great your nonprofit is. While you will attract some support for your organization spouting off its accomplishments, it is not your agency that excites people. It is mission fulfillment. And is about how they participate in fulfilling mission. When you describe mission fulfillment, talk about it as part of their journey to meet their goals. Make it about them, not your agency.

For example, which statement has more impact on you. “Last year My Nonprofit fed 12,000 people,” or “last year you helped 12,000 hungry people eat healthy meals, reducing the need to steal and helping stave off malnutrition, reducing the costs to our law enforcement and healthcare systems.”  Which do you think would garner more donations?

Make it about them and their participation in fulfillment of mission, not your agency.  

Strive to Meet Their Goals, Not Yours

A majority of nonprofit external communications involve asking people to give money, attend events, or apply for jobs. Sometimes you also see communications for the purpose of reputation repair and management. All of these things a nonprofit needs to survive. None of it does a community member.

Instead of talking about your agency’s goals, survey your different constituencies and find out about their goals. Start with your current volunteers, donors, board members, staff, and advocates. Hopefully, the constituencies you have are the types of people you want to have more of. What drew those already involved in your nonprofit to it? What are their goals for being involved? Why do they stay? Also survey those who have left and find out why they left. You want to know so that you can build on the positives and correct the negatives. That way, your constituencies will say good things about your organization to other people and spread the word about your agency. They, then, are your ambassadors. And word of mouth is the most effective least, costly way to draw people into your cause.   

Ask Them to Get Involved

To get people involved, directly ask them. Every public message you deliver – be it a press release, social media post, advertisement, or speech, to name a few – should have a call to action with a clear way to get involved in your organization’s work. Whether you ask them to like and follow you on social media to help you spread the word, advocate for policy change that will improve the world they live in, vote so their voice is heard, come to an event to meet like-minded people, or donate to further the cause they believe in – whatever it is – it is important that you ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Always have a clear call to action. 

 Provide Meaningful Experiences

And then just don’t put them to work just doing anything. Design ways for them to get involved around their needs, not yours. What are they interested in doing? What do they find meaningful? Take the time to find out so they feel fulfilled in their work and become enthralled with your organization. Yes, you need some structure. No, it can’t be completely individualized. But you can, and want to, customize for groups of people. Which is why you survey your different constituencies. To find out what they as a group find motivating. Because then you can design opportunities that fit a majority of the group’s needs and find efficiencies in your operations while garnering the kind of goodwill you need to attract more volunteer, donors, good board members, motivated staff, and community advocates. Fulfill them. Help them achieve the satisfaction they crave. And they will love your organization, stay with your nonprofit, and spread good things about your agency to others. And others will eagerly want to be involved. 

Next Steps

Involving the community in your nonprofit is just one step to garnering generous public support. It is also important to identify your fundraising strengths and gaps, empower your board, and mobilize your staff.

To learn what your nonprofit can do to move ahead, schedule a complementary 30-minute discovery session with me. During our time together, we will clarify the fundraising issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action.

When you make your appointment, you will be asked a few brief questions about your situation so that I am best prepared to help you. I look forward to our conversation! 

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