Nonprofit Marketing: What Do They Want to Hear?

Nonprofit Marketing with megaphone

Nonprofit Marketing: Target Your Audience

I had an amazing opportunity today to experience a public speaking class at Speak Easy.  Although we learned many pertinent lessons, there was one specific statement the instructor shared that has stayed with me.  He said, “Think about what your audience wants to hear, not what you want to tell them”.  Wow!  This message is so important for us in our personal and professional lives.   I think about how this simple statement can change a situation, a conversation or even a relationship. 

I think this is profound on various levels.  For one, will the audience accept what I have to say?  Am I talking about a topic that my audience is interested in?  Are they willing to accept the information that I am about to provide?  Do they want to be here or have they been forced to be here (because their boss told them to, it’s their job, their spouse or partner is forcing them, etc.)? The answers can depend on a few things:

  • How they found themselves in the situation.
  • How I present myself.  How I stand, hold my arms, etc.  How fast I speak.  How loud I project my voice.
  • How I share information.  The words I choose to use.


Secondly, how does the audience want the information to be fed to them?  Do they want facts?  Do they want to have a ‘say’ and be given the opportunity to respond to what I am saying?  Do they want me to speak about the emotional side of a situation and ‘move’ them?  Let’s use this grid of examples:

If I say:                                                                                                  But the listener wants to hear:

I’d like you to do a better job cleaning the house. I’ve noticed that I have not been able to get the bathroom cleaned by the weekend and would like your help.
The bristles on our company’s toothbrushes for children are too hard for the consumer. Consumer research shows that 85% of children prefer our competitor’s toothbrushes for their softness.
Our nonprofit needs $100,000 by the end of the year. A contribution of just $25 can help us properly dress a woman for job interviews.  Our clients are able to obtain employment by the 5thjob interview they attend.
We serve 125,000 people a year by giving them meals, a warm bed and job training. 60% of our clients obtain employment (PT or FT) within 1 year of being in our program.  Of those clients, 70% of them are able to move into their own residence within 7 months of getting employment.


Lastly, does the information that I am sharing help them feel different (in a way that they welcome)?  Does the person feel better about a personal situation or professional situation?  Does it help them accept a difficult situation (maybe a medical diagnosis that they just received).  Many times, information and additional education leads to empowerment.

Let’s help the people we are talking to accept us as a provider of information, hear our words in the manner that they want to receive them and feel empowered by the information that they have just heard.  Wishing you lots of success in your future speaking engagements!


Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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