Authentic Nonprofit Marketing – Avoid “Guilt” Marketing and Inspire Engagement

…if your content doesn’t speak to your constituents they won’t engage. They won’t answer your call to action. They won’t advocate on your behalf or share your content with their friends. – Claire Axelrad

So what is engaging content anyway? What gets people to take action?

Our answer: authenticity.

We searched through the content of a few successful nonprofits with popular content and found five qualities that are common throughout. All in all, they create authentic content.

Five aspects of authentic nonprofit marketing

*First, you should note: As nonprofit marketing phenom charity: water put it in an article by the Content Marketing Institute, you don’t want to use what they call “guilt marketing” to get people to take action with your nonprofit. Guilt marketing isn’t inspirational, it just makes people feel obligated. You want volunteers and donors that come to your nonprofit because they feel inspired to help – these will be the people that care a lot and keep coming back to give what they can.

1. Highlighting smiles: One photo can say a lot, but it doesn’t have to be a puppy with sad eyes or a photo from the latest catastrophe. Simply including images of your volunteers or the face of a smiling recipient of your nonprofit’s work can be enough to excite potential volunteers and donors. Study about the ways to optimize photos with Four Photo Optimization Tips.


2. Telling stories: You don’t have to get all gimmicky or involve a bunch of numbers in order to increase engagement on your social posts. Your nonprofit’s story in itself is worth listening to, but make sure you’re telling it authentically. Read more in  “How to Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story.”

3. Showing stories: To enhance your stories, say more and show more with video, Read more about free resources, ideas to try out, and the benefits you could see in YouTube for Nonprofits. Watch an example – charity: water video.

4. Not limiting them to a check: Does your nonprofit provide a way for people to get involved financially without necessarily giving you a personal donation? Another reason charity: water stands out is because they provide a way for people to fundraise on their own. Similarly, GiveMN provided all the materials a nonprofit could need to fundraise for the Give to the Max Day.


5. Emphasizing progress: Facebook’s latest update for nonprofits includes a progress bar at the top of the page, showing exactly where the donations are currently at, and highlighting progress. Don’t think that you have to only emphasize your need – you can point to the positives as well!


For more ideas, contact ArcStone today to talk with the marketing team and figure out where you can increase your engagement without relying on guilt.