Awareness Campaign Best Practices for Non-Profits (2021)

December 29, 2020 by Andrew Woods

Raising awareness around a cause and soliciting donations, be it monetarily or in-kind, in the best of times is a challenge for non-profits. Add into the mix a global pandemic, restrictions around in-person gatherings, and financial hardships, and these organizations face even greater obstacles. This situation can appear insurmountable and perhaps hopeless, yet there are opportunities to stand-out and generate meaningful connections with audiences for contributions.

The following article taps into Duckpin team members’ experiences working with this sector and outlines some best practices to help readers navigate 2021 and beyond. For ease of reference, we’ve broken these tips into their respective disciplines, which include digital marketing, branding, and web development/design. We work with non-profits to help execute successful campaigns to their fullest potential.

Digital Marketing

Develop a Clear Goal and Call-to-Action for Your Campaign

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly define your non-profits awareness campaign’s goal. Whether it’s a call for monetary donations or a request to share content about a cause, it’s essential to easily explain your intentions to people outside your organization. Additionally, consider what calls-to-action might be most relevant to your non-profits campaign and adjust the language to match how your target audience actually speaks.

Define Your Audience

Impactful initiatives target particular people with specific interests, passions, or personas. One place to start is social media platforms’ hashtags around relevant topics to see what individuals are saying already, as well as learn about how they discuss them. As part of this activity, you can begin to identify trends among the people engaging with this existing content and develop a campaign from these insights. Furthermore, and budget depending, you can use social media/online listening tools, such as the ones listed in this Socialbakers’ article. For non-profits, it’s important to know who your target audience is prior to launching any campaign.

Use Multiple Distribution Channels

Get your word out via a multi-channel distribution approach that matches your audience’s communication “watering holes.” Social media posts and ads, Google Ads, email newsletters, and video content are a few places you might want to promote your campaign. One of the great things about using these digital marketing channels is the ability to test out different messaging and creative assets to see which ones resonate best with your audience and spark engagement.


Identify Colors and Imagery That Resonate with Your Audience

As mentioned before, it’s important to know who your main target audience is and how you want to appear to them. To illustrate this point, Creative Director Chad Birenbaum provides a personal anecdote.

Years ago we worked with an NPO on their brand. In the initial concepting phase we used images that signified growth and reaching new heights, such as a tree and a hot air balloon. We believed this represented the NPO’s mission well to their target audience. However, when presenting these concepts to their board, they felt the images were too soft, and they didn’t want to come across as soft, they wanted to come across as being strong, and strategic. They had a good idea in their head of how they wanted their audience to see them, so knowing your audience, and how you want to appear to them is helpful when developing a brand.

With this information locked-in, an organization can turn to other branding elements, namely color. Color is a key component in your brand, not just in your logo. Color can speak volumes without any messaging in your marketing and awareness campaigns so it’s also important to know how you want to appeal to your target audience. What do we mean when we say color can speak without any messaging? Well, colors themselves can symbolize different moods, traits, actions, and emotions and in some cases can even induce a real physiological response when viewed. Ever heard of the saying “seeing red” when someone is angry, or better yet “hulking out” which refers to the notorious green comic book hero?

A defined color palette can really go a long way in tying a brand’s visual language together across multiple mediums and marketing materials, such as print campaigns, websites, digital marketing, and email messaging.

Develop Messaging That Connects with Your Audience

Along with the visual components of a campaign, developing the written parts should be prioritized. Be careful about incorporating too much jargon into your messaging since this may turn-off your audience or leave them confused about your request. Instead, craft language that’s easy to understand, succinct, and a little witty. Oh, and aim to keep things positive; this helps keep people focused on taking action for your cause versus getting bogged down in online arguments and being upset.

Web Development/Design

Optimize Your Website or Landing Page

Short and sweet! Web attention spans are limited, so make your case and do it quick! Duckpin CEO and web developer Andrew Woods emphasizes, “Short web forms are a must. Don’t try to capture every detail now, just get the basics. Overwhelming the visitor will make them leave.” Furthermore, these forms should provide real-time validation feedback or formatting. For example, typing a phone number? Code it to auto-format as the visitor types, instilling confidence, and ensuring contact information accuracy.