“How do we Convince People that we’re Worth their Attention?”

By Josh Gold

For a nonprofit organization, it’s essential to be able to reach out successfully to both allies and beneficiaries. That question is always under consideration. This applies to donors, volunteers, members, and constituents.

How do we appeal to those in need, so they’re willing to be helped by us? How can we best portray our work to ensure that we retain and grow our support base?

What’s the magic solution that will crack this problem once and for all?

The advent of social media has offered a partial answer to this challenge. It’s never been easier to connect with the general public. Yet “making a website” or “campaigning online” are vague notions at best.

Do you understand how best to take advantage of these tools? Do you approach them with a marketing strategy – and is it working? Are your efforts producing results, or are you throwing resources away?

The question remains: How do you do it right?

In our field, this means that everyone is in search of the perfect video. Posted on a website or shown at an event, the perfect video hits just the right inspirational note to successfully recruit all who see it. With the perfect video, you can finally stop worrying – the difficulty is solved once and for all.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing.


We know it’s hard to believe, but it doesn’t matter if you manage to highlight every single feature of your organization – in fact, overcrowding a video can actually be counterproductive. It doesn’t matter how hilarious, touching, or clever your viral ad campaign is. It still isn’t the sole thing you need to achieve marketing success.

Here’s why: Marketing isn’t achieved in one moment or interaction. It’s a process.

Think about how you make decisions in your own life. Let’s say you encounter a product or service that’s relevant to you. Maybe the initial pitch is good – or great, or even excellent. What’s your next move? Are you ready to sign on the dotted line then and there? Or do you have questions, concerns, points to follow up? You may even want to take some time alone to research, consider, and compare with the alternatives.

After that, let’s say you’re satisfied, maybe even pleased with what you find out. When it comes to low-stakes decisions, that might be all you need. On the other hand, larger decisions are seldom made that quickly.

This is especially true when they’re about something that was previously outside your experience, something that you never had reason to consider before. While you may be intrigued, while you may have been persuaded that this is a solid choice, superior to the competition, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you truly need the thing in question in your life at all. Maybe this isn’t the right time or maybe it’s simply not the right undertaking for you.

If you’re going to be closed on this deal, you’ll need to have your reservations

You started out unaware of the issue. You became interested. You became motivated. You had your fears assuaged. And only then did you commit.

This isn’t something that can be accomplished in a single meeting or with one good pamphlet. People are thoughtful; they’re complex. It’s unrealistic to expect them to make a 180 at the first touch of a button.

Just as in the business world, there’s a sales cycle, a sales process.

It’s never just one step from open to close. When developing your strategy, you need to think in stages. You need to understand the waystations people stop at on their journey toward accepting you – and you need to be prepared to meet them and direct their experience at each one.

With this mindset in place, you are now prepared to transform your website, your social media, your live presentations, meetings and pamphlets into a well-designed path – a permanent marketing funnel that guides prospects from awareness to commitment.

Look at a marketing tool you’re developing right now.

Ask yourself what its specific goal is, where you plan to use it and what you realistically believe it can accomplish. What stage of the sales funnel is it best suited for? Will it be utilized on a platform that makes the most of its potential? Implement whatever changes you need to ensure that this is a constructive interaction.

Josh Gold, owner of Serio Films, has spent the past eight years working with nonprofits to grow their brands through video-based marketing. Josh can be reached at josh@seriofilms.com.