The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step Two)

Review Step One

Okay, your organization is one of many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers. So what can you do to quickly and effectively connect with the emotions of prospects and supporters?

In Step One of this two-part post, I shared my take on why this type of emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. I cited a reliable litmus test for photo impact—would you share it with your own family and friends, and would they “like” or share it?

Step 2: Make emotional connections and compelling content—if not candy—even without the supercute.

If your organization is not an animal rescue or somehow directly related to puppies, kitties, or babies, these alternatives will be far more effective in helping you forge connections and motivate giving. Most important, they are authentic, relevant expressions, rather than manipulative clickbait.

Here are some recommendations, with examples:

For all causes and organizations: Highlight the similarities between your audiences and your organization’s clients, participants, or beneficiaries.

What sweet moments, when the kids at the Shelter get one of the adults to whisk them away into a book. Among many other…

Posted by Findlay Hope House on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

  • Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page time and time again. Consider the post above, showing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

  • Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own family. The cause has the potential to scare off supporters because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma!

  • However, by photographing an older resident (like your grandma or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through and connects us with the residents in a positive way. (I remember when my grandma read to me.)

For policy and intermediary organizations: Connect the dots between your work and the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Have you visited the Children's Museum of Findlay yet? BIG NEWS! The Community Foundation just approved a two-year grant totaling $35,000 to fund a museum educator.

Posted by The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizations like yours have it even harder when building relationships and motivating action, be it giving or something else. That’s because your work is indirect.

You’re working on legislation related to a cause or supporting other cause organizations. This makes it challenging for prospects to connect emotionally. It takes your audience time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But there is a great method of speeding that vital connection—make the message for your prospects and supporters. Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.

  • The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page, as shown in the post above. Here, the foundation makes it easy to make the connection between its work and the individuals who benefit from its grants for a real “aha!” moment.

  • Get detailed and personal in words and/or photos. The close-up (bottom left) of the little girl focused on drawing is compelling!

  • The details are what sticks (or doesn’t) and make your story memorable and more likely to be shared.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies, or babies? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

Review Step One


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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