Marketing From The Heart For Non-profits

PMF Creative Staff


PMF Creative Staff


December 10, 2021

Marketing From The Heart For Non-profits

We all remember the heartwrenching ASPCA commercial featuring the vocals of Sarah McLachlan.

McLachlan’s song “Angel” was serenaded over clips of abused and neglected animals and left the viewer with an overwhelm of sadness and tears.

This short commercial was one of the most engaging and impactful pieces of media ever to hit the airwaves. The non-profit, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, raised $30 million in the first two years after its release!

What was it that made this commercial so much more than an annoyance that interrupted your favorite TV show? One simple word: emotion.

Emotion is one of the most powerful entities we have to make a connection with others. Sadness, joy, excitement, and the gamut of other emotions can open up our hearts in a very unique way. 

Appealing to emotions is by far the most effective way for organizations, especially non-profits, to relate to their audience. This appeal to emotion may almost seem manipulative, but it is simply the natural way we humans can relate to the rest of humanity. Non-profits can leverage this style of relating to connect to their audience and relay their mission in a meaningful way.

Before you can even consider implementing emotional-connection strategies, you need to understand the heart of your non-profit.

If you do not first traverse the landscape of your own heart as an organization, your attempts to reach your audience emotionally will be futile. Part of this journey involves taking a deep and detailed look at your organization as a whole. This is a very in-depth process that requires humility and self-reflection. But once you have understood the makeup of your organization, you will be better equipped to get people on board for your cause!

Here are a few areas you want to keep in mind when learning about the heart of your organization. We encourage you to write down your answers and thoughts for each of these areas. Then, look back on these notes often and try to enter into this self-reflection process as often as you are able, especially when entering into a new year or quarter (which we are quickly approaching!)

Remember your why

Why do you do what you do? 

Why does your organization exist? 

Why does your organization even matter? 

We’re diving right into these questions! Asking yourself “why” can be extremely unnatural for us. When we are in the throes of fundraising, marketing, and meeting with partners, one of the last things on our mind is our “why.”

But asking ourselves the “why” is the most important thing we can do. It forces us to pause and reflect and consider the purpose behind what we’re doing. It helps to stop the busyness of our day-to-day as an organization and recenter our focus on what matters most.

Recalling this “why” constantly will help you make better decisions as an organization and help to focus your marketing efforts for the most impact. It also brings authenticity and heart to your organization by highlighting the reason for your existence!

Remember who are you impacting

Speaking of impact, consciously considering those who you are impacting is of the utmost importance. There are two groups to consider: the direct recipients of your non-profit aid, and those who partner alongside you in driving the mission.

Whether your non-profit is affecting impoverished families or pets, you are indeed making an impact! You are doing so much good in the world! But just as we can forget about our “why,” we can lose sight of those we impact.

A simple exercise is to write down a list of those you have impacted directly and indirectly. Bring to mind testimonials and stories of those you have affected. These stories will help to encourage and remind you that your efforts are not in vain.

When it comes to your marketing efforts, sharing these stories of impact through emotionally-engaging media pieces will be extremely beneficial. Just as you need reminding of your impact, your audience needs reminders too. Providing proof of your impact most encourages your partners and reminds them of why they partnered in the first place!

This is the perfect opportunity for those who your organization impacts to share their personal stories. These first-person testimonials are one of the most emotional-engaging marketing tools you can use.

Remember what motivates you

Managing a non-profit can be exhausting. When we get exhausted, our tank of motivation seems to drop to E pretty quickly. To fight the plight of exhaustion, we have to remind ourselves of the things that motivate us.

Another way to phrase this concept is to ask the question, “what gets me out of bed in the morning?” What part of the job excites you? What part seems to be the most frustrating? Every person within an organization operates differently and has unique skill sets. Honing in on the projects and activities that motivate you will be extremely helpful.

Taking these questions and redirecting them to your audience can be a helpful marketing strategy. One method you could use is taking to social media and asking your audience to share their passions. This question stirs the emotions in your audience and invites them to reflect on what matters to them. This will also help you get a gauge on what your audience values and cares about most!

Remember where you're going

There is value in both learning from the past and staying present in the present. That means there must also be a level of value in looking to the future!

It is doubtful that our goal as non-profit organizations is just the same as we are today. To make a greater impact in the world, of course, we want to grow in our size, impact, and budgets!

Looking forward to the future requires setting quantifiable goals on where we want to be years from now. Establishing goals to work toward will help keep you centered on the goal of the mission and keep you motivated in years to come. It’s the same concept as setting a goal weight and taking the necessary steps to achieve it day in and day out.

Laying out these goals is mutually beneficial to both your organization itself and your partners. Stating plainly to your audience where you plan to be in 5, 10, or 25 years will give them a clear idea of where their money is going and how they can best partner in the years to come.

Consider sharing your organizational goals online on your website through an interactive future timeline. Layout each major goal, whether monetary or not, and present it clearly to your partners.

Consider how others can get involved

Everyone wants to be included in a community. Whether it is a church or a non-profit, there is so much value in playing a role in a group of people centered around the same mission. 

This is why we must understand that involvement in a non-profit is so much more than contributing financially. Partnering with a non-profit goes beyond a monthly donation. It gets to the heart of our desires as humans: to belong.

Instead of focusing all of your marketing efforts on fundraising, get to the heart of the matter and focus on getting people involved in other ways.

When people feel like they are more than just donor #25, they are more apt to continue a long-term partnership.

Getting to know your audience is one thing, but inviting them to join the cause is a whole other! 

It is all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of running a non-profit. As a result, we tend to lose sight of our why, impact, motivation, future, and how to get others involved. But if we take a few moments to self-reflect and evaluate our overall “why” as an organization, we set ourselves up for success.

At the core of all of this is our heart. If our heart isn’t right, our impact will suffer. But when we take a deep dive into the core of who we are as an organization, we can better connect emotionally with our existing and potential audience!

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