3 signs your nonprofit is suffering from an audience disconnect

Perhaps more than any other organization, nonprofits are driven almost entirely by their audience. Without effective marketing, they cannot raise awareness about their cause. Without a targeted, cohesive message that resonates with the right people, they cannot bring in donors and volunteers. But how can you tell if you fit the mold in that regard?

A lot of people don’t realize how important marketing is for a nonprofit. Even if your cause is inarguably noble, you still need to understand how to effectively communicate with your donors and volunteers. Even if you desperately want to change the world for the better, you still need to understand your target audience and how to communicate with them.

Because if you don’t, everything else will inevitably fall apart.

So how do you know your audience is disconnected from your organization? How can you tell that your marketing is falling on deaf ears? Here are a few things to watch out for.

No one seems to understand your cause

When someone mentions the American Red Cross, there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind who they are and what they represent.

That’s because their organization is built on a set of solid, clear, and concise values and ideals. Because they regularly and consistently communicate those ideals in their messaging. Because their mission statement is well-known and well-established.

Do people know who you are and what you do? When your brand comes up in conversation, do people understand your goals? Can your charity be summarized in two sentences or less?

The idea here is that you don’t want to make your message too complicated or diluted. In every post you share, in every piece of content you create, your core values should shine through. It should be clear what you’re trying to accomplish overall.

Your social media is a ghost town

Are people commenting on and sharing your Facebook posts? Are people retweeting what you post on Twitter? Are you seeing any activity at all on social?

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your repertoire. If you’re seeing zero engagement on your posts, it’s a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Your content isn’t properly resonating with your audience.

Maybe it’s because you’re posting it at the wrong time of day, or using the wrong language. Maybe it’s simply not the right content. Either way, you need to rethink your approach — you need to figure out what’s going wrong.

Finding donors and volunteers is a struggle

A successful nonprofit rarely has any issues finding volunteers for its events. It generates a steady stream of donors who regularly engage with it on both social media and through its website. If it seems like you’re always struggling to bring people over to your cause, then your marketing isn’t reaching the right people.

Consider your ideal audience.

Who are they? Why are they engaged with your nonprofit? Why do they care about your cause, and what sort of language do they use to communicate?

You need to move forward with this understanding, and let it inform all the content you create, for social media and otherwise.


For a nonprofit organization, effective marketing is essential. Understanding how your audience communicates and engages with content is the first step towards furthering your cause. And once you understand how to create engaging, interesting content, you’re one step closer to changing the world for the better.

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