When someone loves your nonprofit

November 23, 2011

Posted in Fundraising.

Last week I was showing someone how to monitor their social media presence and I discovered a YouTube video that one of our campers created and posted. It might have been a school project or she might have just done it for fun.

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicopierce/5414594797/

Think about this camper for a moment. Here’s a teenager who loves Camp Tannadoonah and likely spent hours compiling photos and music. Then she posted it for the whole world to see. She brings all her friends (and introduces new ones). And in the off-season, she’s still thinking about camp. She’s what you might call an evangelist. An evangelist is someone who talks you up, who promotes you to others. (You can use the word advocate, if you want to avoid the religious tones of “evangelist” – but advocate sounds too passive to me.

The question is: what can you do with this energy?

Ask for a little

Your biggest fans won’t hesitate to do little things such as liking your Facebook page (spreading your name to their friends) or joining your newsletter list. This is the kind of advocacy that Malcolm Gladwell complains about, but it’s a small step that can lead to a bigger step later on. (In marketing, we refer to these small steps as “micro-conversions.”)

Ask for more

Once a fan has indicated his or her fandom, there are actions they can take that go even further. Have them share you with their friends. Ask them to email their friends or share your stuff on Facebook. Invite them to volunteer at an event. This isn’t about indicating that they support you, it’s giving them an opportunity to actually support you through a small contribution of their time.

Ask for a serious commitment

The people who are willing to truly help you are the ones who won’t hesitate to open their wallets to you or commit to long-term volunteer opportunities. At this stage, they’re invested in your success and your organization becomes part of their identity. And these are the people who need the most careful attention. It can be easy to take these fans for granted, to let them burn out, or to let them wander aimlessly until their affinity has evaporated and they move on to support some other cause.

So don’t forget to thank and cherish your fans, for they’re the ones who love you; make sure you love them back.

Want to comment? Send me a note on Twitter or email me.