Overcoming News and Compassion Fatigue to Break Through to Your Audiences

6 min read

Today’s news cycle is never-ending, and it feels like every week –– or even every day –– there’s a new cause that needs support, and several organizations that are leading the charge. Dreamers are at risk of being deported; organizations and funds that support dreamers like United We Dream and TheDream.US need help. Women’s health and reproductive rights are at stake; without support from donors, Planned Parenthood locations in underserved areas may be forced to close. Gun violence continues to plague public spaces and homes; organizations like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety are fighting for positive change.

It’s a lot to take in, and nonprofit supporters have tough choices to make every day about where to allot their time and resources. Many of the people who support your mission are likely to have several other causes they also care deeply about and would like to back. How do you ensure your audience doesn’t forget about your organization and its mission among the multitude of impactful organizations currently working all over the country and the world?

And what about potential supporters who are perhaps feeling overwhelmed, and like there’s not actually anything more they can do to help –– even though they truly want to see positive change in the world? These individuals can feel helpless in a sea of challenges organizations like yours are seeking to overcome.

“News fatigue” and “compassion fatigue” are major challenges for nonprofit communicators and marketers to overcome in their messaging to ensure their advocates continue to support them, and they can continue to draw in more people who care about their cause.

Here’s how you can overcome these challenges and ensure your organization’s mission isn’t lost in today’s endless cycle of breaking news:

Know your audiences.

You may already know a lot about your audiences and the people who currently support you, but take a deeper dive to learn even more about your existing supporters and the people who may support you in the future. Knowing where they currently stand can help you know when and how to reach them about a particular issue.

Knowing where your stakeholders currently stand can help you know when and how to reach them about a particular issue. Click To Tweet

You can conduct primary stakeholder research through focus groups, interviews, surveys and secondary research through online sources. Ask and aim to answer questions like:

  • Where are the people who are most likely to support your cause getting their information?
  • Where are they sharing it?
  • Why do they choose to support causes like yours?

Then, take a closer look at social media engagement with your cause and related causes. What are people saying? How are they saying it? Pay attention to specific hashtags and keywords your stakeholders frequently use so you can align your social content accordingly. Social media is also where people discuss breaking news and what they’re doing to help those in need, and you can use a tool like Sprout Social’s Listening Tool to monitor these conversations and see how your organization may fit in.

Once you’ve conducted research into your stakeholders’ wants and needs, you can use our worksheets to create stakeholder profiles to follow as you communicate with your audiences.

Empower your supporters with facts.

Facts and statistics can help combat compassion fatigue for potential donors and volunteers who feel overwhelmed and discouraged from helping because they think their support won’t actually make a difference.

Facts and statistics can help combat compassion fatigue for potential donors and volunteers who feel overwhelmed and discouraged from helping because they think their support won’t actually make a difference. Click To Tweet

Everywhere you seek to recruit new donors and volunteers, from your website, to to social media, to email marketing, to annual reports, talk about the impact an hour of their time, or a $20 donation, can have for your community. Emphasize that every little bit helps.

Consistency is key.

Don’t try to customize your messaging for every single news story that breaks in an attempt to “newsjack.” Focus on addressing the news and current events that are most relevant for your mission, and in between stories, standardize your messaging to ensure you remain memorable to your audiences.

We recommend creating key messages and customizing them as necessary for each of your key stakeholders. Key messages should highlight:

  • Who: What groups or communities does your organization serve?
  • What: What does your organization do for those group(s)?
  • Why: Why do you do what you do?
  • Where: Where is your impact focused?
  • To what end: What’s the intended end result of your actions and focus?

Establishing these key messages for your audience will not only ensure consistent communications, but reiterate in clear terms how you make a difference to help your more overwhelmed stakeholders overcome their compassion fatigue.

Be persistent to break through news and compassion fatigue.

Develop a marketing plan and calendar to help your organization stay on track with your marketing and communications messages. This will help ensure that, even if other issues are gaining more attention through current events, your organization is staying in the conversation through consistent messaging.

You can use inbound marketing content to attract people who are most interested in your mission –– even when you’re not part of the news cycle –– as well as marketing automation tools and email sequences to continue to engage with those people. These tactics will allow you to make sure you’re not lost in the shuffle of a 24-hour news and social media cycle.

Find opportunities for collaboration.

While no two organizations are exactly alike, there may be others with missions similar to or complementary to yours. For example, if your organization focuses on education, and another organization is focused on child hunger, you can partner on an initiative to tackle both issues because a hungry child will have difficulty succeeding in school.

By collaborating with other organizations or even for-profit companies seeking to have a positive impact, you can combat compassion fatigue and news fatigue by showing an even greater impact and together, highlighting why what you is so important for your communities.

What questions should you ask yourself before engaging in a nonprofit/corporate partnership?

Regardless of your organization’s size and capacity, there are many opportunities for you to find a partner that will help you amplify your impact. But before you get started, you have to ask the right questions. Download our resource to ensure you check off all the boxes before engaging in one of these partnerships.

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