How to create brand ambassadors for your nonprofit

When Kate Middleton wore a blue dress to announce her engagement to Prince William, the dress sold out. Moreover, rumor has it the company producing the dress almost went bankrupt to keep up with the demand of new customers (EOnline). Now what does this style icon have to do with your nonprofit?

This dress company could have spent hours and all of their budget on social media and content strategy, sales calls and ads. However it took one decision from a well-trusted fashion icon to go viral and change their business forever.

This scenario serves as a reminder for all of us nonprofit marketers: people trust other people far more than they trust your ad or social media message. Due to years of taking in ads and being disappointed by the reality behind a product or message, the same doubt will likely be applied to whatever your nonprofit is offering.

“74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision”  – AdWeek

However, this doesn’t necessitate your nonprofit landing a single brand ambassador such as Kate Middleton. In fact, they could doubt what she is saying about any cause just as much as they doubt your website messaging. Rather, the focus could be on encouraging your users, donors and volunteers to do the promotional work with you.

You need people who your potential audience trusts – their friends, family, coworkers, etc. – to be your brand ambassadors.


Now how do you get your brand ambassadors to share that your nonprofit is doing the great work you say you are?

Of course there are the non-digital means: make t-shirts, encourage people to talk to their family, having them host a drive, but we’re in the digital age – let’s get creative, shall we?

1. First and foremost, make their digital experience a pleasant one.

When they visit your site, is it easy for them to understand what your nonprofit is doing, its impact, and how they can get involved?

For donors: What’s the donation process like? Here are the top nonprofit donation platforms: 5 online donation platforms to delight your donors. If you’re currently using one that has a wonky user experience, consider investing in something better for your users’ sake.

For volunteers: Is it easy to view your calendar of events or contact your volunteer coordinator to get involved? Here’s a snippet on how to add a Google Calendar to your website.

For users: Can they find case studies to show how you can help them? When they need help from your nonprofit, how can they get access to it quickly?

2. Share & show off.

As seen in the #WarbyParker example below, people don’t mind showing off every once in a while. Nonprofits tend to be full of humble people and no one wants to brag about how great they are at volunteering, so how can your nonprofit get people to share their involvement?



  • Choose a hashtag for your event and ask everyone to take selfies or take a picture volunteering with friends, using the hashtag on their social network of choice
  • Ask donors if you can share their donation and use clever calls to action like the one here:

  • Run a self-starter fundraising campaign (as charity.water does a spectacular job at) & encourage participants to use their social media accounts. Make it easier for them by creating a how-to guide

  • Hire a videographer for your next event, ask people if they will give a 10 second spiel on how meaningful the event has been for them

3. Engage & re-engage.

One of the best ways to get people to talk about you and your nonprofit is to keep them feeling involved and inspired. It’s likely that after they donated or volunteered, they felt pretty great and wanted to do more. It’s equally likely that their feelings faded and they’ve been too caught up in other things to remember what that experience mean to them.

For donors: Make a meaningful follow-up strategy. We have a post on Follow-Up Ideas. Make sure this is as much of a priority as gaining the donation is in the first place.

For volunteers & users: You may have made a strong connection when you had them in front of you, but if they don’t enjoy reading your email newsletter, that spark won’t rekindle. Read Would YOU read your newsletter? for ideas to amp up your engagement efforts. Consider reaching out to them on social media to be even more personal.

Overall, the more you can make it easy for people to talk about your nonprofit and engage with your nonprofit, the more brand ambassadors you will create. Rather than getting too pushy with your message, focus on how you can please your users and remind them your cause needs them.

For help with strategy, connect with our team at ArcStone.