4 Lessons Your Nonprofit Can Learn from Hillary Clinton

In one of her most awaited and highly anticipated moves yet, Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the White House this week. Which, you know by now.

What you may not know is that your nonprofit can learn a lesson or two from Clinton’s well reviewed video announcement to apply next time you want to make an announcement of your own to share news of a new funding priority, initiative or campaign.

Make it about something bigger than you to expand resonance and understanding.

Clinton’s two-minute video announcement is powerful but not just because of the hip interviewees or ‘nod to the beat’ background music. The overall tone and narrative are inspiring and feel much more reminiscent of a movement than a campaign platform. And, as we all know, people like being part of movements because they like to be part of something bigger than themselves. On the other hand, I’m not so sure many people really like being part of our highly charged political environment right now.

Our clients at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation do a great job of tying their annual County Health Rankings release to something much bigger than just the numbers, but a larger conversation meant to inspire changes in our health and health care. The outreach strategy is never just about the release but more about the health of our nation, county by county, as part of their larger movement to build a national culture of health. The strategy is effective–media pick it up in droves, and it inspires local conversations across the nation.

Making your announcement bigger than just the news itself allows for larger reach, understanding and identification with the news.

Practice strategic visual storytelling to deepen engagement.

Nearly two-thirds of Clinton’s video tells the story of her target audiences giving viewers an opportunity to identify in an authentic way with the people in the video who support Clinton. The video folds in narratives about working moms, single moms, a gay couple, a minority family…all culturally relevant groups that Clinton is trying to target and connect with.

This is classic visual storytelling designed to deepen impact and engagement. I can imagine many of you using visual storytelling principles and strategies to lift up the stories of your grantees, volunteers or end beneficiaries as you share your news with the world.

Be your own first, best source of information to maximize impact and minimize misinformation.

This is the age of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube–and Clinton has one of each that she’s using effectively to promote her candidacy and platform.

Her adoption of online platforms is a good reminder that your nonprofit needn’t (and shouldn’t) wait around for the media to pick up your story any longer when you have these tools available to you so easily.

Here in Portland another of our clients, the Northwest Health Foundation, is doing a great job of leveraging online channels to share news and build their brand. They strategically manage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and, in addition, robust online news and resources banks, all to maintain authority as a leading source of information on issues important to them.

Leverage your organization’s online networks to be the first, best source of information about your announcement—-you might even find that the media will start calling you!

Make your news easy to pass along to nurture audience growth.

Check out this Facebook post that Clinton’s team posted earlier this week:

Hillary's Facebook post

This is an effective post because it not only underscores her platform, but it’s branded to match the Clinton campaign logo, the large number catches your eye, and, most importantly, the easy to digest nature of the information makes it readily sharable.

And, in fact, this one WAS shared–914 times in the first three hours after it went live! (It was shared more than 2,200 times at publishing!) According to a 2014 Pew study, Facebook users have 338 friends, on average, meaning that this post had the potential to be seen by about 309,923 Facebook users, and, each one a potential new supporter and advocate! Well done, Hills. Well done.

Think strategically about everything you produce or post before it goes live to maximize the impact of your work.

Love her or hate her, Clinton’s announcement is, thus far, a great example of what it takes to start engaging with and moving audiences to support your announcement.

I’m curious–what lessons have you learned from Clinton or any of 2016’s other presidential hopefuls?

Jennie Day-Burget

Former Vice President and Managing Director Jennie Day-Burget is a lover of surprises, wine and chevron (the pattern, not the oil company). Jennie has worked in communications and public relations for more than a decade and cites the hashtag (#) as her favorite communications innovation.
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