This is the continuation of the second step in the Leverage Impact Program (LIP), a 7 steps process to achieve growth and sustainability for non-profits and social enterprises.
In the first article of the step 2 we introduced you to the process of building and facilitating a community for non-profits and social enterprises. The following questions where addressed in the article, click here to read more.
- What does the word community mean to non-profits/social enterprises?
- How can non-profits/social enterprises identify the right community for their causes?
- What is community building to non-profits/social enterprises?
- Why is it important for non-profits/social enterprises to build a community?
STEP 2- Building and Facilitating Community for Non-profits and Social Enterprises (Part 2)
This article will address other questions that relates to building and facilitating your non-profit or social enterprise.
Are there any particular groups of people that should make up your community as non-profits/social enterprises?
The following categories of people are a must have as members of your non-profit/social enterprise’s community.
Like was mentioned above these are the people who are directly impacted by your cause. They are the direct recipients of the good you do through your non-profit/social enterprise.
- Benefiting geographical location
These are the larger community of people where the beneficiaries are located. For instance, if your beneficiaries are in Lagos, the city of Lagos is a relevant audience that should make up your community.
These are the press people that are passionate about your cause. Finding a way to get them on board will help to further spread the good that you do as a non-profit/social enterprise. Just imagine getting CNN on board as your community member.
- Interest groups
There are also different interest groups that are passionate about your cause that you should get on board. Such interest groups already have a growing membership that can help your organization gain some traction fast.
- Corporate bodies
These organizations have several Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and connecting to those whose CSR initiatives align with your cause is a plus to your community.
- International organizations
And don’t forget about international organizations that are also pursuing the same cause. They are vital to you especially in terms of fundraising and extending your impact beyond your current location.
What do community members of non-profits/social enterprises do?
What community member does can be broadly categorized into three key areas:
Participation could be through idea sharing on how to achieve a specific goal and its execution, and active participation on the NGOs programs and events.
- Fund raising:
Members also help to facilitate fund raising for executing the non-profit/social enterprises projects. Whether they go to their own private network to raise funds for you or from their private pockets.
Community members are advocates, they tell your stories to everyone, letting people know how much impact they have made through your NGO and even canvass for new members who share the same ideology to join your cause. “They are your ambassadors; they advocate both the cause you are pursuing and your organisation itself.”
What are some of the visible signs that a non-profit/social enterprise has a thriving community?
There are numbers of signs that show a Non-profit has an active community, some of which are;
- An Active Database: a non-profit/social enterprise should be able to account for every registered community member. This database will help it to know each member by name, gender, location, occupation and what have you.
- Social media reach: a quick glance at their social media channels will show a good level engagement and interactions from their online followers. Mentions from beneficiaries of their programme will also be something very common while checking through these social handles.
- Participation: this is another way to know a thriving non-profit/social enterprise, how well did the members turn out for walks or public sensitizations? Let’s say, an NGO decides to stage a walk against cancer, the number of people who turnout will tell if its members are active or not.
- Endorsement: this is another way to visibly know that a non-profit/social enterprise has a thriving community. The endorsement by any connected international and government organisation shows the level of active participation of members.
What are the different ways non-profits/social enterprises can build a community for their causes?
A non-profit/social enterprise can build a community by making their work do the talking, meaning organically building their network. When people see the kind of cause you are pursing and they like it, they will join or partner with you in making more impact.
An example, let’s say your NGO goal is to care for the Motherless babies, those people that walk-in to the support the babies you are taking care of can be brought on board. These people are the ones you can leverage on to help build a sustainable community.
- Holding Events:
Another way to organically build a community is the people that come for your events, some of them might be interested in the bigger picture of your organisation. When people attend your events it is a strong indication that they care about your cause.
- Social Media:
Social media is another major way of building community, it’s boundary less. You can reach out to a lot of people that share the same interest with you.
- Peer-to-peer interaction:
Where you either physically go out there to meet with people or members of your community who already know what your organisation stands for and they now interact with their network. This is like a multi-level-marketing approach when you have your existing members recruiting more people into the community.
What practical steps can non-profits/social enterprises follow to build a thriving community for their causes?
The practical steps a non-profit/social enterprise can take in building a thriving community for their cause are;
- Creating a customer journey map:
This is about creating a map of how people first get in contact with your non-profit/social enterprise. How do people interact with your organization? To do this, you have to first understand the kind of non-profit/social enterprise that you have. Are you a physical or location based organization that require people to walk in like an old people’s home or motherless babies home? Or are you an interest group that doesn’t require a physical location that people walk in to participate? Or does your non-profit/social enterprise organize events that people have to participate in like a walk for cancer or running for a cause?
Defining your kind of non-profit/social enterprise will help you determine the first point of contact people will make with your organization and how you can take them from that point till they become active members of your community.
- Create a data capture:
In order not to lose the people who have somehow identified with your cause either through walk in visits, or participating in one of your events, you need to get their contact details. This is how you follow up with them to gradually convert them into active community members.
You have to keep in touch with them after getting their contact details. This will help you enforce their interest further in your organization.
This is the flip side of communication where you begin to engage them to talk back with you. This could be done through polls, idea sharing, etc.
- Social media engagement:
Keep them updated regularly with things happening in your non-profit/social enterprise.
- Create regular physical meet-ups:
Physical meet-ups in different locations where your members are will further help the level of participation of the community. This is important to create more bonds for the members across different geographical locations.
- Create an advocacy program:
This is how you activate current members to begin to refer people from their own network to become members of your community.
Community consist basically of people who interact to achieve a common cause, however, its goes beyond the regular meet ups and strategy sessions. There has to be a deliberate attempt to make sure a community function as it had been set out in the first instance.
It’s true that not all community works, active steps must be taken in order to build an effective community, especially one that could help non-profit and social enterprises achieve their goals and objectives.