Marketing is a simple concept with a complex equation for success. No salesman has ever pitched a product that didn’t need selling, which means more often than not you’re going to have to make an appeal to customers that entices them to act. For product- and service-based businesses alike, this means leveraging your product/service and touting the benefits. When people see what they’re getting in return for their action, they’re more likely to jump.

The non-profit conundrum

But what about for non-profits? Non-profit businesses find themselves in a tight situation when it comes to marketing. They rely on altruism to succeed, which means having a marketing approach that appeals to selflessness, rather than benefit. You’re not selling benefits—you’re selling a good feeling.

Despite even the most positive outlook in the world, marketing for non-profits tends to be an uphill battle, which means you’ll need a coordinated approach to appealing on your side. Choosing the right type of appeal can make all the difference when it comes to garnering a donation and convincing someone that their altruism is worth more than their donation.

Finding the right appeal

An appeal to altruism depends largely on your audience. If people truly believe in your cause and the change you’re affecting, they’ll be more likely to support you. But, before they invest their time or money, they’ll need to be prompted. Take a look at 3 appeals that have the potential to prove effective for non-profit marketing, when leveraged appropriately:

1. Appeal to outrage: People stand up for what they believe in and if what they believe in comes under attack, they’ll choose to fight back in any way that they can. If your non-profit works to preserve or protect and is fighting against forces that aim to abolish or absolve, appealing to outrage is a common marketing tactic that has proven results.

Example: “Protect our marshland from corporate development and keep the habitat of the great blue heron safe!”

2. Appeal to sympathy: There is always someone less fortunate than yourself. Many non-profit organizations dedicate themselves to helping the impoverished and rely on donations to continue this work. Appealing to those who have disposable income means tugging at the heartstrings and showing them the direct effect that their generosity can have. Especially during the holiday season, a genuine appeal to sympathy can have a profound effect.

Example: “Please donate a dollar to help us buy 100 local children a winter jacket, to keep them safe this season.”

3. Appealing locally: Pride in their community is a core value for many people and often, they’ll exhibit altruism to raise the quality of life for their local man. When they know that their donation goes directly to a local issue, they’ll be able to see the change they’re affecting in real-time. A local appeal can have tremendously strong results that apply to numerous causes.

Example: “Buy a coffee from XYZ Coffee Shop and we’ll donate a portion of the proceeds to the local women’s shelter.”

When you strike the right chord, it’s easy to play a tune of altruism—however finding the right way to appeal means taking a step back and looking at your audience. Learn about what’s important to your audience and align yourself with these values, and you’ll quickly find that they’re more willing to support your efforts.