Reaching New Audiences

Reaching New Audiences
Roni Rucker Waters
November 11, 2015
Strength Matters Line Art

We had the opportunity this year to partner with Strength Matters® on a learning project to develop messaging to interest impact investors in affordable housing projects.

Strength Matters is a collaboration among NeighborWorks America, Housing Partnership Network and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future. Its mission is to be a unique resource for nonprofit housing enterprises to improve their financial strength and have greater access to capital.

We worked with three Strength Matters member organizations to develop messaging they could use to approach new potential investors (audiences), including high-net-worth individuals, foundations and large financial institutions (national banks, pension funds, etc.). We were honored to be asked to share what we learned together at the recent Strength Matters Annual Meeting in Arlington, Va.

What we found applies to any effort to communicate with new audiences:

  1. This process takes time. The pilot organizations invested a significant amount of time considering what type of impact investor (audience) to target, discussing their place in the affordable housing market, honing their investment offers and identifying significant social impact.
  2. Be willing to talk about your organization differently. Your website and materials should differentiate you. Make bold statements about your successes and the impact of your work.
  3. Include these important points. Every audience will want to know who you are, what you’ve done successfully, why what you are doing is important to the community or region you serve and what you are asking them to do.
  4. Explain everything in more detail than you think is necessary. You have become used to your own shorthand. When approaching new audiences, everything has to be explained and put into context.
  5. Test the new message. Identify trusted experts to review your materials for effectiveness. They can help you identify unclear language and vet the details.
  6. Pick one new target audience at a time. Research your new audience and let what you learn influence everything from the look and feel of your materials to what you say to how you deliver them.
  7. Identify a target community or region. Determine the geographical area that you want to focus on and then use specific information about that area (including relatable images) when approaching your new audience.