Photo by mimitalks
When a company creates a new product or even updates an existing product, they are sure they are going to make a huge impact on the entire industry. How could you not fall in love with this innovation? This creativity?
So it is with NPOs and their causes or missions. The objectives we are working towards, the progress we make, and the importance of what we are doing seems completely obvious to us. We are knee-deep in it all day every day. We spend more time with it than we spend with our family members! It’s extremely easy to assume that our cause, this core of our lives, is important to everybody.
The thing is, fewer people probably know about your cause than you even realize.
This came to mind because of an amazing little article and video I saw on Facebook from the Huffington Post. The article summarizes some street interviews that actor Aaron Beelner conducted with a few participants. They were asked what they thought about the word “midget” and whether or not they knew about Dwarfism Awareness Month.
Beelner was saddened, although perhaps not entirely surprised, to discover that the people he talked to did not realize that the word “midget” is considered a slur. He was also disappointed to learn that nobody knew that Dwarfism Awareness Month existed. They certainly didn’t know when it was. To Beelner and the community of Little People around the country these things are taken for granted. The lack of general knowledge can be like a punch to the gut.
In this case, Beelner is not the brain behind Dwarfism Awareness Month. He was simply trying to shine a spotlight on this knowledge gap. Imagine if it had been his own personal mission. Imagine if it had been yours and you had gotten that reaction.
While you might hesitate to take a survey out to the streets, whether or not people know about you does not have to be a mystery that you find out about all too late. You can be proactive in trying to make sure the word is getting spread, but you also can simply ask in different ways whether people are familiar with your organization and your cause. It’s also important to make sure that people in your online communities, in your email databases, and the people who contribute to your cause understand why you are doing what you are doing and why you need their support. Ask the question on forms that people fill out to contribute. Ask if they understand where their money is really going and what their contribution will do. Ask them to tell a friend about your cause.
Don’t Create White Noise
The temptation in the face of fear about a lack of knowledge is to overfill your social media platforms and your other communication channels. You want to saturate your followers and your community and anyone else who might be around. The problem with this, of course, is that once you start sending out regular messages to your social media outposts, the same people, generally, are going to be seeing your messages. Eventually they will simply start to block you out.
You need to make sure your organization is informing in a lot of different ways at a lot of different times. Tell your story via videos, via Flickr and Instagram accounts, via blog posts and Facebook Posts. Create content that people will be happy to share but that will also help you promote what you are all about (this is a fine balance).
One way we really have liked to test brand awareness at our agency is to invest in blind studies asking people in various industries what companies and products they have heard of. We then repeat the survey a year or so later to see if the needle has moved.
Do not be shy about pursuing an option like this. Offering a small incentive to people who participate is a good way to ensure a strong response. Don’t fret if the initial results aren’t good. Informing people about your cause is a lot easier than building your organization in the midst of a lot of ignorance about what you are trying to do. It is better to know what you are dealing with. Knowledge is power, after all.
Have you ever found that fewer people knew about your cause than you’d have ever imagined? Do you know for sure how much awareness there is about your cause? We’d love to hear from you.