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 organisation.
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 organisation. 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 organisation, 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 organisation. Unlike an ad campaign or fundraising push, which may last a few weeks or months, awareness campaigns are ongoing. 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 organisation’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 organisation. These ideas are low-cost so there is something for everyone, no matter your budget!
How to Raise Awareness for Nonprofit organisations
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 organisation 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, organise a scavenger hunt, or choose something that aligns with your mission.
For example, a nonprofit that gives books to underprivileged youth might organise 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 organisation. At the end of the day, participants have some new reading material and they’re more aware of the work the organisation does. That’s a win-win!
When you host social events, make sure to photograph or record videos to share on your social media channels and 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 sciences or history nonprofits, but any organisation 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 children learn to read would be a great way to help others and get the word out about the organisation!
4. Organise a Community Service Project
Getting people involved is a surefire way to get people to remember your organisation. Organise a community service project related to your nonprofit and invite service clubs, youth organisations, 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 organisation’s name front and centre and remind them of your work regularly. 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 laptops or water bottle!
6. Partner With Another Organisation
Pairing up with another organisation 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 organisations 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 organisation 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 organisation’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 specifically, brief information about your organisation 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 organisation 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 optimisation (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. 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 a week. At the end of the week, the shelter will pick a few of their favourites.
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.