Rush hour. Midtown Manhattan.
Traffic backed up for miles. Everyone’s slamming on their horns. Screaming and yelling.
A little gas, hit the brakes. A little gas, hit the brakes.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
If you’ve ever been in this kind of traffic, you know how annoying it is. A cacophony of sounds. Sensory overload. A feeling of too much noise and clutter.
As the commercial in the 70s said, “Calgon, take me away.”
In this whole scene, there’s one group of people who are not paying any attention to the hullabaloo around them: Pedestrians.
Yes, New Yorkers are used to congestion, traffic jams, drivers cursing and the constant sound of horns.
But there’s another reason for what seems to be their indifference to everything going on a few inches from them: They’re only allowing in the noise they want. Could be a phone call. They’re talking to someone they’re walking with to the subway. They’re making a video for Instagram.
The noise and environmental clutter all around doesn’t bother them. They have learned to filter and they only let in the noise they want.
Everything else? As if it doesn’t exist.
An Internet Minute
The Internet is a wondrous place. It’s also a hellhole.
But no matter how you view it, one thing’s for sure: There’s a TON of content being produced every minute.
Lemme share with you my one of my favorite yearly charts:
Wow. It’s overwhelming.
If you were to just look at the chart, you’d give up trying to connect with your audience via social media, text and email. We’re all bombarded every second of the day with something dinging and ringing and pinging.
Phone calls, emails, texts, videos, tweets, Google searches, Amazon purchases. It never ends!
That’s part of the reason why some nonprofits I work with tell me: “We don’t want to send more than one or two emails each quarter. People’s inboxes are overflowing. They’ll get upset if we add to the inbox clutter.”
Brief interruption: I made the mistake of taking a 30-second break from writing this post. I ended up on Twitter which led me to an article I read about the New England Patriots new head coach. I gotta do better in keeping the noise out.
Here’s where I have to share a little secret with you: The people in your audience WANT to hear from you. They WANT constant and consistent communications. They WANT to know the impact they’re making and the good they’re doing for others in the community.
All the content noise? They’ll find you in their inbox. Your cheerleaders will stop doomscrolling when they see your post on Instagram. Supporters will click on the link you send via text.
They’re like the pedestrians walking in New York City: They let in the noise they want. The rest? As if it doesn’t exist.
Cutting Through The Noise
What does this mean for your nonprofit?
Conversation: Fundraising and marketing is about an ongoing conversation with your donors, supporters, volunteers, community activists and others associated with your organization.
They should hear from you and you should WANT to hear from them. Encourage them to provide feedback and then answer any concerns they have. Or thank them for a compliment.
If fundraising is all about holding out your hand for donations and treating people like cash cows, you’re doing it wrong.
It’s about building relationships and creating a two-way street.
When a supporter feels that you and your organization care about them, they’re more likely to engage with your content.
Educate: Why should people follow you online? Why should they sign up to receive your enewsletter?
The best content helps to educate the reader and provides value. When that happens, they want more. Which means they’ll be on the lookout for more opportunities to read and engage with your content.
What could that look like?
- Host a webinar where you bring in an expert related to what you advocate for. Your organization’s mission is to cure illness X? Present a researcher who can update where the drive for a cure stands and what’s the latest news.
- Your nonprofit works with teens and mental health? Invite parents to learn the signs of distress so they can help their child before it’s too late.
- Update about recent advocacy efforts. Did you ask people to call their local congressperson to get a law passed? Did the law get passed? If yes, what does it mean for your community?
Trust: Whether we like what they choose or not, many people have a trusted source where they get the majority of their news from.
They trust that channel to tell them the truth, help them understand the complex issues in our world and provide them with the knowledge they need.
(Again, I’m NOT going into specific sources of news! Just using it as an example.)
The same applies to your nonprofit. Overall trust in nonprofits is pretty low. We’re not doing a good job collectively of creating believers from among our audience.
We have to do a better job of
- sharing proper gratitude
- updating supporters about the impact their gift is having
And that’s just for starters!
Building trust takes time. But as your organization becomes known for providing the information people are seeking, they will begin to trust you. Which means they’ll read more of your content.
Yes You Can!
I know how many different directions you’re being pulled in at any given second.
Your supporters and audience are just like you.
But I also know that when you provide them a REASON to read your content, they will. They’ll find you in their inbox and open your emails. They’ll see your social media posts. Website visits will get a boost and so will conversions.
In an Internet minute a lot happens. As long as you provide content worth taking time to read, your supporters will tune out the noise around them.
Even if just for a minute, they’ll concentrate on what you published.
That’s how you cut through the noise and build a loyal following.
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