3-Minute WOM Lesson: Word of mouth lessons from nonprofits and political campaigns

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Charities, nonprofits, and political campaigns are often great places to find word of mouth ideas. They’re groups that are designed to motivate people around an idea and get people talking — and often, do it all on zero budget. A few ideas they can teach us:

1> Always say yes to a volunteer
2> Make them feel important
3> Make it fun

1> Always say yes to a volunteer

You can walk into any well-organized nonprofit or political campaign and have a job waiting for you. They’ve got tools for talking and topics ready to go — no matter how many volunteers they get. When your talkers are ready, make it easy for them to instantly jump in and get involved.

2> Make them feel important

For campaigns and causes, talkers aren’t just a mouthpiece for some slogan — they’re part of a movement. Give your talkers status, official titles, and a mission. Make it a habit to remind them that they’re playing a special role in a special cause.

3> Make it fun

People are much more likely to get behind causes when they’re fun and inspiring. Even for serious topics, having a little fun can dramatically increase word of mouth. There’s a reason walk-a-thons and per-mile-pledges are so widely used among charitable causes — they’re a lot more fun than going door-to-door begging for donations.


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  1. Elaine Fogel

    Totally agree, however, within reason. Making volunteers feel important and making it fun are both doable. Not all nonprofits can say a blanket “YES” to volunteers, however, no matter how well organized they are. Some just don’t have the space or the tactical jobs volunteers can do if they were to “walk in.”

    Some have privacy issues, especially related to health care, and some have missions that don’t lend themselves to walk-in volunteers. I recommend that volunteers call first to see if there’s something they can do for their selected charities on site. If not, perhaps there are WOM things they can do online. Then, there’s always that lovely checkbook… 🙂

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