As a small, grassroots nonprofit organisation, community engagement is crucial to achieving your mission and goals. By building relationships with people in your community, you’re increasing awareness of your mission.
Engagement isn’t just important to those who’ve never or barely interacted with your org. It’s essential for existing supporters, too.
“Even if they have a strong connection to the nonprofit’s mission, supporters will have a hard time connecting with nonprofits that only ever message them to ask for more donations. To build a community that cares about the success of your nonprofit specifically, you’ll need to provide donors with valuable opportunities to get involved and engage with your organization.” – The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Back to Basics: Building a Strong Community of Support for Your Nonprofit
While we can’t help you with the time and money part, we can help with a few community outreach ideas! Some require more time than others, and, while community outreach is essential, we don’t condone raising stress levels to DEFCON 1. Taking any steps to build relationships within your community is a job well done!
5 strategies to nurture community engagement
Offer classes and courses
“Smaller nonprofits have also had success adding new service lines or fee-for-service models to increase their budget and impact…The Wildflower Center: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas, that aims to conserve native plants and their landscapes. In addition to its conservation efforts, the Wildflower Center also offers a variety of educational programs, including workshops, classes, and camps. These programs are fee-based and generate income for the organization. The Wildflower Center has been able to expand its offerings and engage more people in its mission through the additional revenue generated by its educational programs.”
Gather your team and brainstorm. There may be a great offering you can create that reinforces your community roots and act as a new revenue stream!
Sell custom merchandise
Partner with local businesses
“Brands that have a social impact that helps the larger community are especially effective,” says Joy Panos Stauber, President of Stauber Brand Studio, a brand communication company. “If your customers buy a product, and your company donates to people in need with each sale, this is a good way of supporting a larger community while also building community around your brand.”
Additionally, you can offer to promote their business on your social media platforms or website in exchange for their support. The Foundation Group article Tips on How a Nonprofit Can Partner With Businesses is a helpful read.
Participate in community events
Connect with people who may not be familiar with your nonprofit by participating in community events. Festivals, farmer’s markets, and maker fairs like those at local breweries or wineries are a great place to start. By setting up a table with activities, you can engage with the community and raise awareness about your nonprofit’s mission.
Tell your organisation's story with content
Additionally, it’ll make it easier for people to understand your mission and how they can get involved. Charity Digital’s How to put storytelling at the heart of fundraising is a comprehensive resource on how to create content that tells your nonprofit’s story. User-generated content is an excellent option for any organisation to utilize. It saves you time and helps your org to reinforce relationships with supporters.
“User-generated content is media — including photos, videos, graphics, stories, etc. — that is contributed by individual users of a website or social media platform. User-generated content is valuable because it eases the burden of creating original content from the organization itself, while at the same opening up ample opportunities for increased engagement and participation. It inspires fans and advocates, encourages creativity, and shows that the organization values it supporters.” –Telling Your Non-Profit’s Story through User-Generated Content via Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact in Communication.
For examples of user-generated content, check out Charity Digital’s Five forms of user-generated content.
In conclusion, your organisation must engage with its community to attract new supporters. Just remember to focus on building relationships with your supporters and providing value to them. Doing so can create a strong foundation for your nonprofit to grow and continue to make a meaningful impact.