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Nonprofits, Create a Lead Generator that Quickly Accelerates Your Growth

If you want to move your nonprofit organization to center stage—building your subscription list and expanding your donor base—you need to elevate your visibility. And to do that, you need quality leads, and plenty of them.


Of course, it's tempting to pour more dollars into Facebook ads, radio spots, or local magazines. But those hard-earned dollars are hard to come by, and the results of ad campaigns can be disappointing.


There’s a much better way to elevate your visibility and expand your subscription database. The good news is that it’s also more cost-effective.


It’s a lead magnet, and here’s how it works. You offer content that your target audience values enough that they’re willing to download it in exchange for their email address. It could be a short e-book, a well-designed PDF, or a custom video. Then, having obtained an email address, you can begin building a relationship. Through the email sequence, they will see you and your organization as fulfilling their desire to be generous (donors) or participate in a mission bigger than themselves (volunteers).


If you don’t have a lead generator, it’s time to create one. But how do you decide what type to create? You love the idea of getting new leads in your sleep but are left wondering which subject matter and format will do the trick. The decision seems daunting.


To make it easier to get started, here is a step-by-step guide for creating a high-value lead generator, custom-built for you and your nonprofit.


Step 1: Identify your target audience.


The most successful nonprofit leaders view their donors and supporters as the heroes of the story and the nonprofit organization they lead as the trusted guide who helps these heroes achieve their goals—being generous, participating in a mission greater than themselves, etc. Thus, a successful lead generator homes in on a specific target audience, tailoring the content to their unique aspirations and felt needs.


Who is your target audience? What are their pain points? Does a particular religious commitment inspire them? Are they motivated by a particular aspect of your organization’s mission? Phone surveys, focus groups, or published research can help you gather this information. Once you clearly define your audience, you can create a lead generator that speaks directly and effectively to their needs and interests. This will increase the likelihood that they will provide their contact information and become a supporter of your nonprofit.


Step 2: Determine a problem your target audience wants to solve.


The most successful nonprofit lead generators pique curiosity by promising a solution to the target audience’s problem or felt need and build loyalty by following through on the promise. So, put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to know about your cause? What kind of testimonial would warm their hearts? Which type of case study would illumine their minds? What template for action would help organize their approach? What type of research or findings would cause them to click?


After identifying a problem your audience is facing, figure out what’s preventing them from solving it. Is it simply that they don’t have the information they need? Or is the information available in a format they don’t prefer? In other words, identify the “pain points” your audience faces in trying to solve their problem.


Step 3: Brainstorm your lead generator topic.


Now that you’ve identified your target audience and determined a problem they want to solve, you are ready to create a lead generator that addresses the issue. The more effectively you relate your lead generator to the problem your organization solves, the higher your conversion rate. In other words, focusing more on your target audience and their problem and less on your organization and its successes makes the target audience more likely to be interested in your organization.


For your lead generator to be successful, it must be accompanied by a value proposition. A value proposition is a clear statement of the specific benefit that your nonprofit provides to its target audience. In other words, you’re not only solving a specific problem but doing so in a particular way.


Step 4: Choose a format for your lead generator.


Finally, you need to choose the right format for your lead generator. Which format should you choose? There is no single right answer to this question, and it deserves a bit of reflection. Here are a few of the most common and effective formats:


  1. The e-Guide: The first lead generator that probably comes to mind is a free ebook. These are popular because they’re effective, easy to create, and adaptable to any topic. Usually, they are conceived in the form of a guide or report. They are ideal for pretty much any organization. The trick to creating a valuable e-Guide? Know what’s valuable to your target audience and speak directly to their curiosity, struggles, or concerns.

  2. The Handsome Article: Think of this generator as a gussied-up white paper. While white papers have their niche, they don’t attract many potential volunteers or supporters because they appear so, well, boring. So, turn your white paper or blog series into a handsome article replete with images, charts, and sidebars. Give it a title that sizzles and a cover that attracts, and you’re ready to publish.

  3. The Cheat Sheet: Cheat sheets—also known as checklists or handouts—are ideal if you need to create something quickly. Although they are often delivered in PDF format, they take a different approach than e-Guides or articles. They are concise (usually only a page or two long) and crisp, walking the reader through a list of ideas or actions.

  4. The Webinar: Webinars can be a good idea if you don’t have a lot of written content prepared. Video is a highly engaging format, and if you’re comfortable in front of a camera and have a skill you can teach or a valuable interview you can conduct, this could be the perfect lead generator for you. Once the camera is on, don’t spend too much time clearing your throat or engaging in small talk. Establish your (or your conversation partner’s) credentials and cut straight to the subject matter your audience wants to hear.

  5. The Sampler: The Sampler can be a good idea if your organization’s value is more appealing when experienced in concrete and tangible ways. A nonprofit sampler could be a case study detailing how the organization helped a particular person, family, or community. The sampler can be quite effective because it provides social proof that your organization delivers real-world value, thereby building trust with potential supporters and constituents.


That’s it. That’s how you narrow in on a lead generator that will pique curiosity, expand your email subscription database, convert warm leads into hot ones, and motivate people to act.


Once you’ve followed the steps above, there are a few things left to do—create, title, design, and give it a landing page. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to attracting people who really want or need your organization. You’ll see a quick expansion of your email list and a dramatic uptick in support.


Now that you have a blueprint for creating a lead generator that works, it’s time to jump in and get started. However, if these steps seem like too much work for the time available, we are here to help solve your problem. Schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can partner to create a lead generator that works for you.


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