How to Get People to Care About Your Cause

January 13, 2016

We believe every person, at heart, has the desire to improve the world. It could be to improve their own life, their children’s future, or just because they feel it’s the right thing to do. The problem is an individual’s desire to create change is often low on a list of daily priorities. School, work, family and socialising quickly get in the way. For the everyday person running their life is difficult enough, let alone leaving enough time to think and act on causes they care about.

The challenge for every organisation is to cut through the daily grind and garner the support of even the busiest of people. We know this is no easy task. People are fickle and one approach won’t work for everyone. We’ve listed 5 approaches you can take when trying to get people to support and act for your cause.

Approach 1 – Storytelling: The Power To Activate Empathy

Human beings are social creatures by nature. We work best in communities, achieving more through cohesion and collaboration. One part of being social creatures is experiencing the emotion of empathy. Feeling another person or creature’s plight as though it is our own. As this RSA video explains, humans are hard-wired for empathy because it helps us build better societies. So how is this relevant for your cause? Using storytelling as a strategy for action, you can create an empathetic reaction that motivates a person to act.

Looking for a great example? We challenge you to watch this video on elderly loneliness without getting a bit misty eyed, or feeling the need to do something to change the situation. By viewing another’s distress, we in turn feel distress, compelling us to take action to resolve the feeling.

Every cause has a story behind it, someone it affects. While you might not have sobbing elderly folk to put on screen, if you can tell a compelling story using real people and real emotion, you can create an urgency to act within the viewer.

Approach 2 – Make It Relevant: This Will Affect You

The easiest way for a person to feel detached from a cause is failing to see the relevance to their own life. Sometimes this is wilful ignorance, such as ignoring the proven health effects of smoking. Sometimes it is a genuine lack of knowledge, such as a complex issue like the Tran-Pacific Partnership. What about the scenario when the cause really won’t affect the person directly? Try and communicate how it could affect someone they care about.

Cigarette ads are the poster child for trying to get people to move past wilful ignorance. If adverts about cancer ridden organs aren’t getting through, getting people to understand how their actions will significantly impact others might do the trick. This advert ran for a long time in Australia, and highlighted what the smoker will miss out on in their children’s life. This advert used an upset young child to highlight a life without the parent.

When creating communications about the cause, try different strategies for making that link. Keep in mind that inaction happens for a range of reasons, and might be a genuine lack of knowledge as to how an issue can affect an individual or those they care about.

Approach 3 – Egoism: Feel Good Giving

In a perfect world, people would act charitably because it’s the right thing to do. All actions would be altruistic in nature, and come from a place of selflessness. Truth be told, we don’t live in such a world. Pretending we do only limits the approaches you can take towards growing your supporter base.

In the age of Facebook and Instagram, ego has evolved. We can now put forward a carefully curated version of our lives. Being seen as ‘do-gooder’ is often part of this curated life.

There are two great approaches towards leveraging peoples’ social image when trying to motivate. The first is placing the viewer at the centre of the communication, and making the cause about them, and what they can do. This WSPA advert states “These animals need people who care, are you with us?”. This type of action validates the viewer, and insinuates to not act is to not care.

The second approach is creating self-validating material for users who have contributed to the cause. Make sure to loudly put forward any achievements your organisation has accomplished, with affirmation that even the smallest contribution helped the outcome.

Craft socially shareable content, such this thank you video by AYCC. It shows accomplishments, thanks those involved, and puts the contributions of the individual at the centre of the cause’s achievement.

This type of content is easily shared by those involved without appearing egotistical, yet still allows the person to showcase their contribution to the cause.

Approach 4 – Rationalise It: Stats, Facts And Figures

For potential supporters who see the world in black and white, getting your facts and figures in order is the best way to win them over. Preparing communications of this nature gives you the opportunity to delve into the nitty gritty figures of why your cause makes economic and statistical sense for the individual and wider community.

The difficulty with presenting information of this nature is that it is often quite dry. Communications based around facts and figures can be difficult to weave into engaging content, but it can be done.

Get Up’s attempt to present the basics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a great example of using motion graphics to engage an audience with dry content. Additionally, they also created a humorous version of relaying the information; both creative approaches of getting dry content to resonate with people.

Creating video content isn’t the only way to engage people with information, there are more cost effective methods like infographics. Whichever way you communicate the information, ensure it allows the individual to seek more details if they wish too, like linking to a content rich post on your website.

Approach 5 – Keep Organised: Who Cares About What?

Once you have a supporter base, it’s a good idea to start sorting, organising and planning. When the numbers grow, basic software like an Excel spreadsheet just won’t cut it for keeping track. You want to be able to use the information you have about supporters and turn it into useful data you can act on.

A CRM stands for customer/constituent relationship manager, and for many NFPs, political, and advocacy groups, it’s the cornerstone of their operations. Our CRM of choice, NationBuilder, allows you to create detailed profiles for each person in your database. You can include contact information, log interactions, set goals, and record their interests.

Being able to look at a supporter’s profile before contacting them can be enormously valuable. If you’re conducting a day of canvasing, then you can use an app like FieldEdge to access NationBuilder and view information before interacting with people. It’s nice to know if a person is for or against a cause before discussing it.

CRM’s also allow you to easily segment your database for EDM communications. Want to email all the people who have already donated? It’s as simple as creating a filter. Being able to reach the right people with the right communication allows you to increase the chances of meeting the objectives of your cause.

No Excuses, Get Moving!

The best part about each of these strategies? Any organisation, on any budget can start implementing them immediately. While those with bigger budgets will have the edge on creating content and choosing a CRM, there’s nothing stopping a one person operation starting a blog and opening social media accounts.

New Humans of Australia is a perfect example of a single person wanting to make a difference, and using the resources available to them to do so. Nicola Gray decided to use a similar model to that of HONY to share the inspiring and heart breaking stories of refugees and migrants who have come to call Australia home.

Nicola’s effort started only four months ago, yet New Humans of Australia already boasts a fan base of over 60,000 likes. Once a cause gets momentum, it starts to grow.

If one person and a collection of stories can grow to have such an effect, there’s no reason your own cause can’t build the same way. Get out there and make a change.

Danielle Woods NationBuilder Expert Content Marketing . PR

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