3 Steps to Educate, Engage and Activate Your Nonprofit Stakeholders

4 min read

When there are concrete goals your organization needs to reach in support of a capital campaign or advocacy effort, you’ll be well served by deploying a three phase approach to educate, engage and activate your stakeholders in support of your cause. And, while many of the most successful campaigns of this sort span multiple years, I have seen positive results with this strategy in as short as three months if organizations stay focused.

So how do you use the educate, engage and activate model for your nonprofit? Let’s take a look at each stage in a bit more detail so you can find out.

Educate the General Public

During the education phase of your campaign, you want to put more emphasis on the problem your organization exists to solve rather than on your organization itself. You’re leveraging low-touch or no-touch tactics, like PR, social media and blogging to amplify the need that exists or to tell the story of the people you serve without getting into great detail about how or why you do it. Avoid making very specific asks, such as donation requests, and allow people the time to get to know more about your cause.

As an example, let’s say your nonprofit runs surgery centers in developing countries and you’re looking to increase awareness of what you do while also raising additional funds to open your next location. During the education phase of your campaign, your primary goal should be to help people understand that five billion people around the world cannot access safe, affordable and timely surgery and one-third of hospitals in the developing world lack running water.

As you create conversations about the needs your nonprofit meets, you’re also positioning your organization as the solution and laying the groundwork for the next two phases of your campaign.

Engage Your Audience

If the education phase of your campaign exists to demonstrate the need for why your organization exists, the engagement phase is where you begin to shed light on the opportunity to make a positive impact on the problem.

Continuing with our surgery center example, it’s during this phase you want to help people understand that for many, access to healthcare is the difference between whether you live above or below the poverty line. Affordable essential operations, provided by your centers, can significantly reduce recovery time.

At this phase, you also want to give people opportunities to engage with your organization and your brand by offering easy ways to connect with your cause on social media or by subscribing to your newsletter. Your goal here is to start building your network and identifying people who are taking a deeper interest in your organization and your cause.

Activate Your Supporters

By the time you reach the point where you’re ready to activate your stakeholders, people should be well educated about the need your organization exists to fill and know the importance of taking action in support of your cause. When it’s time to make a direct ask, don’t cast a wide net like you did during the education phase of your campaign. Rather, focus here on communicating to individuals who have been most active with your organization during the engagement phase of your campaign and make personalized outreach with emails, phone calls or an appeal letter. If you’ve laid the groundwork during the first two phases of your campaign, your results should be reflective of that here.

Ready to put this approach into action toward a specific goal your organization is looking to reach? Start by building a timeline. What is the outcome and when does it need to be achieved? Take that date and work backward, dividing the amount of time you have into thirds. Spend the first third of your time educating your stakeholders, the second third engaging them with your cause and the third phase motivating your audience to take action toward your specific goal.

Begin Mobilizing Your Stakeholders With Our Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template.

nonprofit marketing plan workbookTo effectively reach and mobilize your stakeholders to support your cause, our three step approach works best when paired with a strategic marketing plan. Download our Essential Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template today to build the community of supporters you need to truly make an impact.