News from the Forest

Creating Awareness for Social Media  Nonprofits

“Awareness is like the sun.  When it shines on things, they are transformed”, said Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk considered the father of mindfulness”.  We are talking about creating awareness on Social Media and in the Nonprofit sector.


What do mindfulness and awareness campaigns have in common?  Awareness is a meditation concept that allows us to be present.  Be Aware.  Focus.  Be Present.

Talking About Definitions

Looking at the textbook definition of an Awareness Campaign:  A public awareness campaign is a marketing effort to build public recognition of a problem through media, messages, and an organised set of communication tactics.  These campaigns target people over a specific period to try and generate specific outcomes or achieve pre-determined goals (http://www.Rasmussen).  Be Aware.  Focus.  Be Present.  

However, awareness is only the first step.  After creating awareness, you communicate with those who are interested (i.e. followers on social media) and engage (by opening emails, shares, comments, and votes).  They must now commit.  Your target audience must support your cause by spreading the message, donating time or donating funds.  Through these means, you can better the lives of the beneficiaries of your cause.

Let us unpack this definition in four simple steps.

Build Public Recognition.  Increasing your cause’s visibility is the raison d’etre of any awareness campaign.  Out there, there is a vulnerable group that needs a better life.   Now you need to increase visibility for the cause.  Hence our tagline #tellingstories and #Buildingsupport to help organisations increase visibility. 

Planned Strategy.  “We didn’t raise so many funds for our cause, but the awareness was amazing” The first questions that come to mind are, what message, to whom, and how was it measured?  It sounds like a fundraising project, and it seems you hook awareness onto a fundraising campaign to validate the outcome.  Yes, every fundraising campaign has an element of awareness or, let’s call it, “ambassadorship” to it.  However,  awareness does not fall from thin air.  It forms part of the overall strategic plan of your organisation.  It is an intentional process with goals, objectives, stakeholders, activities, a budget, and measurements.  Important, what is the call to action?

The Tools.  One uses the media (traditional and social media) to create awareness, messages, and an organised set of communication tactics.  The campaign must be targeted a specific group of people. 

Time-bound.  The campaign, like any project, has a start and an end date.  It sets the boundaries for the campaign.  It defines the boundaries and makes them measurable.

Unintended Awareness

Furthermore, when you wear a branded shirt, you are an ambassador.  Everything you do and say creates an image in the public’s mind.  I witnessed a sad event onboard an aircraft.  Our flight was delayed, and some very vocal Rotary members became rowdy in First Class after being served drinks.  Not the image that a respectable organisation like the Rotary would like to portray.  By all means, wear that shirt, but remember, by wearing the shirt, you are communicating a message. 

The Last Word

Let us return to Thich Nhat Hanh: “Awareness is like the sun.  When it shines on things, they are transformed”.   Be Aware.  Focus.  Be Present.  Take Action.  Tell your story.  

Read more about the Social Media Management Process: