Flying Southwest – or How to Attract Attention for Your Nonprofit

The couple was boarding my Southwest Flight earlier this afternoon and everyone was trying to pretend they weren’t listening. If you fly Southwest very often, you know that it can be unsettling for people the first time. There’s no seat assignment, so if you didn’t sign in for the flight ahead of time and end up in the B or C boarding section, there’s a very good chance you won’t end up sitting with the people you’re travelling with (the aisle and window seats fill up fairly quickly and most Southwest flights are quite full). The woman was a little irritated (my husband will confirm that I have a special understanding for this feeling while travelling) and the man was trying to calm her down. Another woman was travelling with them and was also trying to make things easier. Eventually they all sat down and things calmed down. The flight was underway and there was no additional drama.

My point? Everyone sitting around me (yes me included and I’ll bet you would have too) was paying at least some level of attention to the activity. We weren’t interfering, but we knew what was happening – and were interested in a positive conclusion. There were several other people loading unto the plane as well. But we didn’t pay attention to them.

So… what are you doing to make sure that people are paying attention to you? There are many ways we can (positively) gain attention. One of the best ways is to provide information that people are interested in.

For your nonprofit, it could mean providing advocacy updates. It could be (and usually does mean) providing uplifting stories about how people’s lives have been changed as a result of your work.

How do you know the best information to provide to keep the attention of your readers? Ask them. Most often, this content will not be the information we tend to cram into our newsletters. For example: this is what our organization is doing – this is what our staff are doing – this is what we think. Your readers typically don’t care what your organization is doing – what your staff is doing – or what you think.

Here are three ideas of content to write and include in your blogs, newsletters and other publications:

  • Report on how the community is being impacted (yes, this is still about your organization, but putting the focus on the community).
  • Talk about how donors have helped make an impact in your community – or share a donor story to inspire others to make a difference. In fact, I don’t often read the newsletter from my alma mater, the University of Central Florida (UCF), but the latest issue had a story about Harris Rosen in it – a donor who has made a large impact in the Central Florida community and to UCF. I read the article in its entirety – and was inspired by his story.
  • Let your clients share what they think – or your donors – or your volunteers. They can brag on your organization in a much more effective way than you can.

Those are just a few of my thoughts. What about you? What ideas do you have to add?

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