If you work in the non-profit sector, you’re familiar with the concept of raising awareness. Awareness campaigns are designed to educate the public about a cause, issue, or organization.
There has been a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of awareness campaigns and whether they’re worth it. Unlike fundraising campaigns or volunteer recruitment, which can easily be measured, “awareness” is nearly impossible to calculate.
While that is a valid point, it’s still worthwhile to raise awareness for your organization. After all, if people don’t know about your nonprofit, how can they support you with donations or volunteer hours?
If you’re looking to increase awareness for your cause and/or organization, we have some information on running a successful awareness campaign and 10 ideas you can use to get your nonprofit’s name out there.
What is an Awareness Campaign?
As we mentioned, awareness campaigns educate the public about a specific cause, issue, or organization. Unlike an ad campaign or fundraising push, which may last a few weeks or months, awareness campaigns are on-going. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how long an awareness campaign should last, but it should be a sustained effort.
In your campaign, you should aim to…
- target people who share your organization’s beliefs and values
- educate those potential supporters about your issue or cause
- generate new contacts for your donor database
With that in mind, let’s look at 10 great ways to raise awareness for a cause or organization. These ideas are low-cost so there is something for everyone, no matter your budget!
How to Raise Awareness for Nonprofit Organizations
1. Create Brochures or Pamphlets
This may seem like a no-brainer but in the digital age, a lot of people forget how effective brochures can be! If your organization doesn’t have brochures already, hire a graphic designer to create one. Ideas: hand them out at social and educational events (our next two ideas), leave them with consenting local businesses, or put them in your lobby.
2. Host Social Events
Social events are a great, no-pressure way to raise awareness and let people know about the work you do. The activity is up to you: screen a movie, host a picnic, organize a scavenger hunt, or choose something that aligns with your mission.
For example, a nonprofit that gives books to underprivileged youth might organize a book swap where people can bring the books they no longer want and trade with each other. Books that don’t find a new home are donated to the host organization. At the end of the day, participants have some new reading material and they’re more aware of the work the organization does. That’s a win-win!
When you host social events, make sure to photograph or record video to share on your social media channels and on your website. This shows people what they were missing and helps you publicize your next event.
3. Host Educational Events
Educational events are a great way for staff and volunteers to share their knowledge. Lectures are a popular educational event for many science or history nonprofits, but any organization can host this type of event.
What information do you have that others may be interested in? For example, a children’s literacy nonprofit probably has a wealth of knowledge about teaching children to read. An event where parents and caregivers can talk with literacy experts and get advice for helping their own children learn to read would be a great way to help others and get the word out about the organization!
4. Organize a Community Service Project
Getting people involved is a surefire way to get people to remember your organization. Organize a community service project related to your nonprofit and invite service clubs, youth organizations, or even employees from nearby companies to take part.
5. Give Out Small Promo Items
This is a tried-and-true tactic used by companies and nonprofits all over the world. Small branded items keep your organization’s name front and center and remind them of your work on a regular basis. The promotional items with the largest ROI are useful things like pens, mugs, and LED flashlights. If your nonprofit has a cool logo, stickers are a great item to have printed. People love adding stickers to their laptop or water bottle!
6. Partner With Another Organization
Pairing up with another organization to hold a fundraising night or social event is a great way to expand your reach. And it doesn’t have to be another nonprofit. A lot of businesses and for-profit organizations look for nonprofits to partner with. Look for one that aligns with your mission and dedication to your cause.
7. Use Social Media
These days, it’s no secret that social media can be a boon to any organization and awareness campaigns have exploded in popularity thanks to social media. Information can now be shared with a lot of people very quickly, making it easier than ever to share your message.
Your nonprofit’s social media accounts are a great place to start your awareness campaign and keep it going. It will take time to gain traction, but keep at it! Experiment with different types of content, especially shareable content like infographics and videos to see what your followers like and respond to.
8. Write a Great Press Release
Press releases are another time-tested way to get your organization’s name to the public. A press release is a short, compelling story, usually written by a PR professional, and sent to the media. These days, you can send press releases to newspapers, reporters, journalists, and even bloggers, and influencers.
A press release gives very specific, brief information about your organization and cause. It should never be full of boilerplate information that anyone can find online. If you need a little guidance on how to write a press release and who to send it to, check out our guide to writing a press release for nonprofits.
9. Show Off Your Expertise With Content on Your Site
If you’re involved in nonprofit marketing, you’ve probably heard about content marketing. Content marketing is a strategy that revolves around creating content (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc) that don’t explicitly promote your organization, but position you as an expert and industry leader. In short, content is another way for your staff to share their expertise with the world.
Real examples of nonprofits that use content marketing:
- The Feeding America blog features posts on topics like frugal meal ideas and the benefits of keeping your devices away from the dinner table.
- The National MS Society has dozens of pages of resources for those living with and caring for people with MS (multiple sclerosis.)
And you can make the most of your content marketing with some basic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.
10. Hold a Contest
Few things get people excited more than a little friendly competition! There are a few ways you can execute this idea. Social media is a popular way to hold photo contests. To do this, simply encourage your followers to share a photo of a certain item using your hashtag over a certain period of time. At the end of the contest, you’ll pick a few “winners.” Whether you give a prize or just the glory of winning is up to you!
For example, an animal shelter might encourage followers to share pictures of their pets with the shelter’s hashtag over the course of a week. At the end of the week, the shelter will pick a few of their favorites.
The other way to hold a contest is by making it internal. That is, a contest among your staff and volunteers. This could be a contest to see who can get the most sponsors for an event, who can raise the most money, or any other metric you think your staff would like to compete over! Again, whether you give a prize is up to you.
Capital Business Solutions Can Simplify Your Accounting Processes
While the goal of an awareness campaign isn’t to raise money, it often results in more donations. With accounting software made specifically for nonprofits and training from Capital Business Solutions, handling donations and accounting will be easier than ever. Learn about our software solutions and contact us for more information today!