Play It Again, Sam: Repetition in Non-profit Communications

When you’re working in development and non-profit communications, you live and breathe the message (and story!) of your organization.

After endless conversations with donors, writing newsletter articles, blog posts, social media pieces, and other communications, the professionals within your organization are often the first ones to get ‘message fatigue.’

Maybe it’s you, or a CEO or board member, who’s getting a little bored with the talking points. They grow restless with saying the same thing over and over, and want to change the tune.

While it’s great to be creative in how you present the message, don’t let your main story get lost! There’s nothing wrong with continuing to hit the high points of your story for your donors and supporters. In the advertising world repetition is key, with an old adage that it takes seven presentations for a message to stick. There’s a good reason why brands with nearly 100% market recognition (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Rolex) still spend millions on advertising every year.

So keep in mind two points:

  1. You’re not always writing for your best supporters, those who know your organization inside and out – you’re writing to invite people to become that best supporter, and they need to hear what you do!
  2. Stick to your organization’s main strengths, the compelling story of the life-changing work of your non-profit, and why your donors are the ones making that happen through their support.

When you get the itch to change the tune, just remember: “Play it again, Sam!”

5 Reasons Non-Profits Should Continue Fundraising – Despite COVID-19

Fundraising – like pretty much everything else – during a global pandemic feels confusing, uncertain, and slightly uncomfortable; however, it is critical you recognize that your non-profit organization continues to meet needs in your community and contribute to it in essential ways.  Frankly, you must continue to generate income to support your mission and work.

Don’t pull back from sharing your mission, your message and giving donors an opportunity to contribute to your organization and support their communities.

Here are five reasons we believe you should continue fundraising, despite COVID-19:

1. Fundraise because you CAN.

Donors see first-hand how non-profits positively impact their communities – when the world is running “business as usual” and when the world is in a crisis like the one presented by the Coronavirus. Many people desire to support their communities and turn to non-profit organizations as a vehicle to do so. Your organization can capture donors’ goodwill by enabling the community to support your organization through donations.

2. There is uncertainty in the future.

Many states have laid out clear plans for phased reopening and while this may bring some clarity around what communities can expect in the future, there is still an element of uncertainty that requires non-profit organizations to prepare for the unknown. Non-profits, such as food banks, animal shelters, and workforce development organizations, have all had increased need over the past few months and this trend could continue. No matter what the future holds, your community will continue to require the support your organization provides.

3. Non-profits are economic engines.

According to a recent article from Forbes Nonprofit Council, “nonprofits employ more than 10% of the [national] workforce [and] the nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $985.4 billion to the United States economy in 2015” (source). On both national and local levels, non-profit organizations are creating jobs, purchasing products and services, and contributing to the economy. Continued fundraising is critical to ensure your vital economic engine continues to contribute to your community.

4. Stay at the forefront of your stakeholders’ minds.

Stay relevant to donors, volunteers, and clients by continuing to communicate with your audience. Be transparent with your stakeholders and share how COVID-19 has impacted your organization and the necessary changes you’ve made to align with the “new normal” and everchanging community needs. Connect your organization’s mission, vision, and work to the current climate and share stories that exemplify impact.

5. Donors can decline.

Both in times of crisis and more “typical” climates, individuals can decline your organization’s requests for donations. Don’t miss the opportunity to solicit donations because you assume people don’t want to, can’t, and won’t support your organization. It is worth the ask – donors always have the option to say “no.”

If you have a mission that is relevant, shout it from the rooftops and if not, connect your mission and work to the measurable impacts your organization makes on your community despite the unparalleled experience we’re living through. Use this time to continue to connect with your audience, share your good work, and generate the donations that are vital to sustaining your organization’s work.