Almost every non-profit organization faces the same challenge: Trying to attract donors and volunteers comprised of people who think, “I want to help, but I don’t want to go.” This mindset characterizes most of the population that constitutes a non-profit’s available audience. You can try convincing people to get their hands dirty. But, deep down, most people think this way:
- “I want to help people starving in Africa, but I can’t go on a trip overseas.”
- “I want to help save children caught in human trafficking, but I don’t feel comfortable seeing the situation first-hand.”
- “I want to help people know God, but I’m not a proselytizing kind of person.”
- “I want to help to people wrestling with cancer, but I don’t see myself visiting cancer patients.”
Do these viewpoints represent a lazy or apathetic attitude? Maybe or maybe not. I’m not here to judge. I’m just stating the reality in which we live.
If you’re a non-profit director or a board member, how do you manage this challenge? Do you try to change people’s entrenched beliefs? Do you coax people with guilt, goals, or incentives? You might sway a few folks. But, for the most part, getting people to get more hands-on is like pushing a boulder uphill. What’s the answer?
Make people feel like they’re able to make a difference without getting involved.
Now, before you write me off as a hardhearted heretic, here’s my point: You will never be able to get most people directly involved in your non-profit’s cause. There are simply too many distractions, competing organizations, and valid reasons why people won’t get hands-on with specific types of charity work. And, it’s impractical to try and fight their mindset.
Therefore, don’t fight them. Instead, attract people on their own terms. Promote your non-profit’s message in a way that allows people to feel like they can make a difference without doing much work. Use cheerful language and a marketing approach that is supportive of individuals who may never get deeply involved. For example, can you tell the difference in these two statements?
- Please get more involved with our cause. We need your support in order to make a difference.
- We’re pleased to show how your support is fulfilling our cause. You help us make a difference.
The first statement contains a hint of guilt and condescension towards a potential donor. It smacks of “We can’t achieve our goals unless you get off your duff and get more involved.” In contrast, the second statement makes a potential donor feels supported, regardless of what level they’re involved. It communicates a sense of “We value your support at any level, and you are an integral part of our success.”
If want try and persuade people to increase their participation with your non-profit, be prepared for a lesson in futility. Instead, use marketing language that supports people at any level of involvement. If you want to attract more donors and achieve your growth goals, use your promotional tools to communicate, “We’d love your help, even if you don’t want to go.”
For more helpful marketing tips for non-profits, click here