The idea of building and maintaining a strong community around your nonprofit may seem daunting, but it’s an imperative priority, especially at a time when so many urgent issues are competing for our attention. So how do you actually build a strong community?
Building a sustained connection with your supporters not only strengthens their relationships with your organization but also lets them know their contributions are valued. And bringing people together to share ideas, knowledge, and experience is ultimately how change is created in our own lives and communities.
Purposeful communities can also be a bastion of safety and acceptance, enabling members to feel confident enough to engage in meaningful conversations about sensitive topics – such as mental health – without fear of judgment. Here are some tips on how to build an authentic and supportive community of supporters within your nonprofit.
Connect with people at all levels of engagement, so everyone feels involved and valued.
High-engagement supporters are the most reliable fuel for your nonprofit engine; they’re passionate about your cause and will be excited to work with you, whether they’re donating money or volunteering their time. But don’t overlook people who care about your cause but don’t have much time or money to give – they can still make an impact by spreading awareness through the community or word-of-mouth recommendations. This kind of support is also important because it helps get information out there without requiring any action from you directly. Make sure you are including all your supporters in your community outreach efforts, and give them clear and direct ways to support your organization without requiring a big spend or time commitment.
Make sure that members of your community understand why they’re there and what they can expect from it.
The first step to building a strong community is making sure members of your community understand why they’re there and what they can expect from it. This will help them feel more comfortable and engaged, which in turn makes it easier for you to get the support you need from them.
It’s also important to give people clear instructions on how they can get involved with your organization, like by volunteering or donating money or goods (i.e. clothing, toys, toiletries, etc.). And make sure that these are easy steps for everyone involved.
Build and encourage open lines of communication.
Whether it’s staff or volunteers, make sure your community knows they can talk to you. Making your supporters feel comfortable expressing their ideas, questions, and concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal is especially important if you’re a leader or manager within your nonprofit.
For example, if a staff member wants advice about how their job fits into the bigger picture of the organization, don’t be afraid to ask questions and offer support. Your willingness to built rapport with volunteers and staff will show others that there are multiple avenues through which they can get help within your organization, and it will remind them that there are no wrong questions.
Connect with supporters as individuals.
As you’re working to build a strong community within your nonprofit, it’s important to keep in mind that the individual needs and communication styles of your members will vary. For example, some members might need to ask a lot of questions; others might need to be connected with members who have similar interests. You’ll need to give consideration to these different approaches and communication styles to make sure you’re being as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
Make sure you’re providing opportunities for people with different experiences or perspectives–whether they’re volunteers or staff members–to share their knowledge and expertise with each other in a safe space where they won’t be judged or criticized for sharing information that isn’t conventional within your organization.
Use advocacy software for nonprofits to better engage donors, volunteers, and others interested in your cause.
Advocacy software can help you build stronger relationships with your supporters by providing them with the information they want in an easy-to-use platform that’s accessible from any device. Advocacy software also allows you to track activity to ensure that you’re meeting your engagement goals. And it helps both supporters and staff connect with you, your organization, and each other.
If you’re looking for a way to engage your supporters, build a strong community, and make sure everyone feels included, an app-based community is essential – it will enable timely, authentic, and relevant communication and team building, and connect supporters at all levels of engagement, so that everyone feels involved and valued.