Have you ever applied for a job? I think all of us have at one point in our lives, unless you have taken over a family business.
Suppose you find an open position with an organization or business that matches your skills, knowledge and training. You polish your resume until it is perfect, and you craft a cover letter explaining why you are the perfect choice for the position, You get an interview with the hiring manager, and at the meeting, you go into every detail why you should be the chosen one. You tell them about all your successful projects and sing your own praises. You are confident and self assured.
A few weeks later, you find a letter in the mail. You open it in anticipation of a positive outcome, only to find a rejection letter. A bit dumbfounded, you make a polite call to the hiring manager to thank them for the opportunity to interview, and ask them what the successful candidate did to get hired. While most HR people will deny you the answer to your question, this person tells you that the person they hired came highly recommended by someone associated with the organization. That is something that is quite common in this job market.
The same situation is true when trying to find new supporters for a nonprofit. You can create a brochure telling the reader what your organization does to make society a better place. You can create a fancy website with colorful pictures and special font for your story. You can create a good argument with dozens of reasons why the reader should support your mission to make the world a better place, but if the person has no tie to your organization, the odds are not great that they will read your materials, let alone pull money out of their wallet or write you a check for your organization. What can you do to make them more receptive to your outreach?
As the late Will Rogers said,”Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.”
The answer is to let someone the potential supporters know introduce them to your organization. Those people who already support your organization, whether board members, employees, volunteers, or clients, can introduce their friends, acquaintances, and business associates to your organization more effectively than a brochure, appeal letter, or website. Let them share why and how they support your organization and how it makes them feel to involved with your organization. They can post messages or a link to your website on Facebook and Pinterest, or tweet a link on Twitter. Have them invite their friends who show interest for informal events or a guided tour of your facilities. Some organizations use the support of local celebrities and even bigger organizations get the support of national celebrity supporters. Once those supporters tell your story for you, you will need to follow up and start those relationships that can be cultivated into new partnerships.
People are far more willing to support an organization that their friends support. Let your volunteers, donors, board, and other supporters be your ambassadors, opening doors and hearts, and you will find more success expanding your base.