How Your Nonprofit Can Inspire a Movement That Excites Action

Creating buzz around your nonprofit organization—enough to make previously unattached audience members participate—requires a movement people can act upon. Your nonprofit’s mission may appeal to people’s sensibilities, strike a chord with their emotions or even meet one of their needs. But if you can’t give donors (and potential ones) a tangible way to join your cause, forget about engagement. What would they engage in?

Find a movement that excites people to action. Supporter and volunteer engagement will come much more easily when you do.

Successful nonprofit movements are viral and recognizably yours. For example, WWF’s Earth Hour created “the world’s largest single campaign for the planet” by asking people to shut off their lights for one hour on the last Saturday of March. It started in Australia and spread throughout the world. Take note: Earth Hour works because it’s simple and widely accessible. Inspire a movement with a group activity that’s similarly straightforward.

An infographic explaining TOMS Shoes’ One Day Without Shoes explains it all: curiosity leads to conversation, which leads to action, which effects change. One Day Without Shoes spreads awareness about the importance of shoes for health. Likewise, your nonprofit can spread awareness by asking supporters to join in some shared activity to start conversation. Call attention to your cause by calling on your nonprofit audience.

Both Earth Hour and One Day Without Shoes ask supporters to sacrifice a luxury or basic necessity to generate interest in their work. To inspire a movement of your own, begin with these tips in mind.

Think Mission

WWF protects nature, and asking people to start conversations about climate change falls in line with their environmental mission. Begin with your nonprofit mission statement in mind then try to communicate the heart of it with some action. For example, St. Baldrick’s Foundation hosts head-shaving events to benefit kids with cancer.

Spread Socially

Whatever movement your nonprofit starts, rely on social media to spread the word. Invite participants to share relevant pictures on Facebook. Create a hashtag on Twitter to boost your movement’s online presence. Promote the event with a video on your nonprofit’s YouTube channel.

Become Attached

If you’re just starting a nonprofit and fear a viral movement is out of reach for your budding organization, consider joining another movement. Partnering with a more established nonprofit will increase visibility and show your goodwill. One of three major projects for Girl Scouts USA this year was participation in WWF’s Earth Hour.

Whether partnering with another organization or starting a movement of its own, your nonprofit can successfully excite people to action if you give them something exciting to DO. Inspire a movement that relates to your mission. It can expand your nonprofit’s network, increase exposure and energize supporters.

How can your nonprofit inspire supporters with an action-oriented movement?


Jill Havlat

March 30, 2012

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