Many nonprofit organizations struggle with fundraising due to a lack of community awareness, an undefined focus, or an ineffective brand message. A 2015 study conducted by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found that small organizations are more likely to struggle with fundraising than larger organizations. The study attributes leadership issues, shortfalls in special events, and a decline in corporate giving as reasons for this challenge.
Community media refers to non-commercial media that isn’t part of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) or National Public Radio (NPR). Community media centers across the U.S. collaborate with schools, local organizations and neighborhood activists to provide a space for local citizen journalism.
Nonprofit organizations can benefit from community media efforts to collaborate with local organizations and activists. Here are three ways NPOs can use community media for fundraising purposes:
1. Establish Strategic Partnerships With Community Media
In a Forbes article, I suggested that a strategic partnership is most meaningful and effective when an organization identifies important allies and creates mutually beneficial relationships. Building relationships with other local organizations can benefit your NPO by allowing you to improve your community outreach and spread your brand’s message through multiple organizations. A partnership with community media can also help NPOs enhance their services, impact and sustainability.
• Develop a marketing partnership that fills gaps in each organization’s marketing plan.
• Become a fundraising partner by identifying the top three fundraising efforts for each organization. From there, consider establishing one strategy that works for both organizations.
Great partnerships work when each organization provides something the other organization lacks. Your collaboration with community media can increase brand exposure and the range of services your organization provides while helping improve your organization’s sustainability.
2. Use Community Media To Tell Your Organization’s Stories
Storytelling provides nonprofits with great opportunities to touch others with stories about those affected by their team’s work. Nonprofits should become experts at telling real stories that affect people’s emotions. Blogger Lucy Rendler-Kaplan cautions you, though, saying, “your stories must be honest, inspirational and connect on a real level.”
I agree with Sophie Elizabeth Smith, who says, “storytelling is an integral aspect of any successful brand marketing strategy.” If used effectively, nonprofits can use storytelling to convey the organization’s personality and get the organization top-of-mind for individual, corporate and foundation donors.
How can nonprofits use community media to tell their stories?
• Learn to use the video, audio recording and lighting tools at your community media center.
• Create your stories using the tools provided and share them on your social media channels.
• Pitch the stories you developed to other local media outlets.
It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks required to operate your nonprofit that you forget the reason your organization even exists. Donors give money to people — don’t forget to tell their stories. Community media can help you to effectively tell those stories.
3. Partner With Influencers In Community Media
Forbes contributor Jayson Demers says before you can partner with influencers, “you’re going to need to become a bit of an influencer in your own right.” Influencers can reach large audiences and affect purchasing decisions. Nonprofits should think of an influencer as that friend a community member turns to for recommendations before they spend money. That friend has power and NPOs want to tap into that power.
Influencers can help tell your NPO’s stories. Forbes contributor Rebecca Suhrawardi says micro-influencers provide benefits like “authenticity, a unique point of view, deeper storytelling and the potential of reaching a more tailored audience.”
How can nonprofits work with influencers in community media?
• Use Twitter to search for, follow and engage with community media users.
• Locate local community media users on other social media channels.
Ideally, you want to connect with social influencers who support your organization and are willing to talk freely about your organization with their followers.
Nonprofits can improve their organization’s sustainability by establishing strategic partnerships with community media that will provide something other organizations lack, using community media for storytelling, and partnering with social influencers in community media. Efficient use of community media can increase brand exposure and improve delivery of the organization’s message. These efforts can significantly improve your NPO’s fundraising, allowing you to expand the range of services your organization provides.
Original publication on Forbes: Three Ways NPOs Can Use Community Media For Fundraising
Genia Stevens is a digital marketer and Forbes columnist. She is owner and managing partner of Belwah Media, an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Genia Stevens is passionate about community media, tech tools, podcasting, and everything digital. Connect with Genia on LinkedIn and Twitter.