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Donor Participation Project

Build an Emotional Connection With Your Donors: How to Be More Human in Your Nonprofit Marketing

Nonprofit marketing has become too focused on technology and not focused enough on emotion, according to marketing expert Mark Schaeffer. In a recent podcast, Schaeffer argued that nonprofit fundraisers need to rediscover emotion and put it at the forefront of their marketing.

It’s not about technology. It’s about the story and the emotion and the passion for whatever you do.

Great marketing is about creating an emotional connection between your nonprofit and your donors. However, in reality, most nonprofit marketing conversations center around automation systems, marketing technology stacks, and lead nurturing. These tools have their place but should not come at the expense of making human connections.

To build emotional connections with donors:

  1. focus on sharing authentic, interesting, and relevant stories.
  2. Identify stories from your nonprofit’s work that will resonate with supporters and spread those stories at every opportunity.
  3. Feature real people in your stories and marketing materials.
  4. Let your supporters share their reasons for giving and what your organization means to them.

Being in a community is like supporting something, having a banner somewhere. Being of a community is rolling up your sleeves when times get tough, show up and help

Also, become an integral part of your community rather than just working in it.

Look for ways to truly support your community during good times and bad. These actions will build goodwill and cement your status as a vital community partner.

Finally, make your nonprofit’s leader the public face when possible.

While not all executive directors are comfortable with a public role, sharing their passion and vision can be powerful. If your leader is unwilling or unable to take on this role, find other authentic and inspiring voices from your organization or supporters to highlight.

By focusing on emotion, storytelling, community, and personal connection, nonprofits can overcome “marketing rebellion” and build the types of meaningful relationships that spur ongoing support. While technology has an important role, never forget that meaningful change happens through human interaction and relationships. Staying true to your mission and values will build an organization that wins supporters’ hearts and minds.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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