A successful strategy for outreach with diverse communities will help your organization transform issues at local levels and achieve long-lasting benefits. Here are the top 6 outreach tips I’ve learned by working with local communities across Latin America. These tips will be useful if you plan to work with organizations or locations you haven’t previously worked with.
1. Listen to people’s real needs
The nonprofit field is a passionate one; we are all fighting for vital causes. However, each community has its own sets of issues that need to be solved. For example, let’s imagine you want to decrease water pollution in an underserved neighborhood. However, when you talk to local leaders, you find out that reducing unemployment is their primary goal; water pollution is not on their radar. To solve this, you need to make a connection between their needs and your overall goal. Maybe create capacity building programs that give people the skills to pursue careers in the water sector, or create recycling points that employ locals. This way, your organization will be able to develop projects that align with the community’s needs.
2. Partner with local organizations
After listening to people’s needs, the next thing to do is to work alongside local organizations. They will benefit from larger nonprofits’ expertise and could provide helpful insight into the community’s needs. Include knowledge sharing sessions in your outreach strategy to ensure that local stakeholders can identify, analyze, and solve problems. You will multiply the number of local changemakers and reach your goals faster.
3. Focus on small goals
This may sound contradictory, but focusing on small goals that have a measurable impact on the community will ensure that you will have a transformative effect. Goals that are too ambitious and not visible in the short term can make your staff and the communities you work with feel discouraged. Working on small goals that add up to bigger ones will make them less abstract and easier to monitor and communicate. When people start noticing a positive change, they will be more motivated to join and support your cause.
4. Use social media…
To communicate results and connect to new audiences, you can use social media. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok) is often seen as an add-on to a nonprofit’s outreach strategy, something that would be nice to have but not a must-have. But if you use these platforms effectively, they can help you increase long-term support, inspire communities to get involved, convene people for in-person events, share real-time updates, build relationships with other organizations, organize online petitions, and reduce tension by making people laugh. Focus on one or two social media platforms depending on your audience, don’t overwhelm yourself, and use them as a tool to reach these tips.
5. …but prioritize human interaction
Even though technology helps nonprofits work better, human interaction is still at the core of most of our work. When working with new communities, it is necessary to create strong bonds. That’s why it’s critical to show the face behind an organization and have open communication channels that assure people that a human is willing to help them at the other end of the line. Not everyone has a computer, a smartphone, reliable internet, or the ability to communicate with you; maybe they speak another language, so make sure there are plenty of channels that allow people to interact and express themselves freely. You could host frequent Q&A sessions, send short videos with relevant information, or have a WhatsApp chat dedicated to answering questions.
6. Leave assumptions aside
This main lesson I’ve learned by working with different communities across Latin America is that we all have unique ways of viewing the world. Our experiences, cultures, languages, and even our natural environment will shape how we relate to each other. By understanding and respecting different worldviews, you will create outreach strategies that stem from inclusion and equality.
There you have it. These 6 tips will help you create impactful outreach strategies and have a long-lasting impact wherever you go.
Find connection points between your organization’s goals and the community’s needs
Work collectively to empower local stakeholders
Focus on small achievable goals
Use social media wisely
Show the human face behind your actions
Understand diverse realities
Do you find these tips helpful? What other lessons have you learned? I would love to hear from you and chat about communication, outreach, and diversity.
If you’re having a hard time with your communication strategies, you don’t know what social media platforms to use, or are having trouble with outreach with diverse communities, send me an email at [email protected], or if you prefer talking, you can book a 30-minute call with me here https://calendly.com/nairabonilla/30minutes
Naira Bonilla is a communication consultant that brings a unique cross-cultural perspective to the world of fundraising and communication. She has more than five years of experience working across three continents in communication and fundraising roles for international organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Climate Focus. She helps nonprofits and social enterprises improve their outreach strategies and create messages that inspire people to act and donate.