Awareness Is Community

A man was in need, one larger than he could handle himself. He did the only thing he could think of. Heading down to the street, he began walking up and down shaking people’s hands, asking them to stop and listen for just a minute. Most people would smile politely and move on, while others would give him the time, but thank him, again, moving on. He was beginning to get frustrated but did not lose his determination to find the help he needed. So, he continued doing the same thing till the sun went down and the street became empty.

Back in his office, he sat, exhausted yet committed to his mission. So, he drew up a new plan, one that involved a sign. He spent the night hand painting that sign and was satisfied in the morning when he went back down to the street. Knowing that he had a sign, he stationed himself in one spot with the sign standing prominently on the sidewalk and himself hovering around asking people to stop for minute and listen. He pointed to his sign, told them all about the things he was doing and the help he needed. But again, the sun went down, and he was no step further than yesterday.

This sounds like a similar situation any non-profit find for themselves. Knowing they need to be actively working on bringing attention to their work and needs, yet blindly trying inadequate ways over and over. The temptation our man above had was to grind himself till he had found a solution to his need with ideas that required a lot of manual work both in the office and on the street. Boots on the street are important, however, doing the work will forever be the best tool you have to gain awareness.

Building Awareness

We have had the pleasure to work with amazing organizations who have put the same type of energy and time into methods that really don’t work. It’s often scattered, inconsistent, and done by someone who really does not have that time to be spending creating a “graphic” for a Facebook post. Attention, which we call Awareness, is often the hardest part of a non-profits work. That’s why we see many Facebook and Social Media Marketing companies selling services that only sell half of the solution. It’s easy pushing the publish button on a post.

When we have a discussion about building awareness for your organization, we skip over the details of who and when things are shared or published. For us, awareness is never blindly sharing on social media. Awareness goes beyond metrics and measurement. We firmly believe that awareness comes from doing the work and doing the work will bring attention. For example, we worked with Sol Cabachuela on her campaign branding for a seat as a Mundelein Village Trustee and our approach to her social feed required information about voting, why she was running and sprinkled in the mix were post about Sol’s involvement in the community. Sol being active in the community provided many opportunities to share those things bringing awareness not only to herself, but the work being done in Mundelein.

If you have nothing to say that’s worth hearing, people will continue to walk by you. For the gentleman at the beginning, he may have been getting an audience on the street, but he wasn’t telling the story properly to get people involved. Awareness begins with the wok, always. He was choosing to talk about his desperate need instead of pulling people into the work through a compelling story.

Our Proven Method

Doing the work brings awareness, which raises funds and brings support, which in turn allows your organization to continue doing the work. This is not new information for most organizations. However, a lot of those organizations become stuck on any one of those areas giving focus to either the work or fundraising but not awareness. What is new is how each of these areas of a non-profit work together, offering a new and creative ways to tell your story.

In 2020, Heart of the City began our conversation about their annual report not knowing if they would have enough information to share about what happened in a year that we were able to do nothing. When we dug further into the year, we began to have to rewrite and cut various things on the list because in doing the work throughout the year they were able to adapt. In doing that, we were able to tell the larger story in their annual report, which will then be used as a fundraising tool helping the organization do the work.

This type of awareness reaches farther and wider than any type of social media presence. When you can speak directly to people willing to support your work through a method that isn’t easily skipped over the impact becomes larger. Your story is able to draw those people into specific aspects of the story. It shows them the larger picture of your work, instead of a snapshot on Instagram Stories.

We believe that this type of awareness is most important, but a part of your organization’s strategy should involve personal storytelling through your social channels. We believe that the strategy behind social media for almost all non-profits is to share the stories of those you work with. People are willing to support when you tell the right story.

The Community

After having spent hours on the street by himself, our friend from the beginning starts talking internal with volunteers, staff, and friends of the organization. He tells them the struggles he had in building awareness, that the methods he has used weren’t getting the right results. A few good suggestions came from those conversations and he set out to bring those people together. He had enough in the budget for an internal gathering.

So, our friend booked a few food trucks and a local band to celebrate the people doing the work. It was an open event, so staff and volunteers could invite a friend. A few prominent community members heard that the event was happening, and they stopped by. It ultimately was a success in celebrating the people who do the work while building personal awareness in the community around them.

This opened the door to organic natural communication with direct people in his community. It also offered them something without forcing anything in return. When organizations begin to think outside in, the focus becomes more about doing the work and being present in the community.

For Neighbor, it is our pleasure to work with organizations working with this mindset. The work we do is there to enhance and support the mission and message being told by your organization. Let us support your organization and schedule a call with us today.