Author(s)

Nicole Irons

Date

6-2017

Department

School of Communication and Creative Arts

Degree

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Chair

Monique Maloney, Todd Smith

Keywords

Communication, Marketing, Market Strategy, Nonprofit, Social Media, Tools

Disciplines

Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Graphic Communications | Mass Communication | Organizational Communication | Other Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Social Media

Abstract

Whether I am working for a small nonprofit in Indiana or at an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia I have seen consistent areas of struggle and shortcomings in nonprofit organizations. After years of working in different organizations the struggles nonprofits consistently face are a lack of resources in three main areas. These main areas of struggle are: visibility, funding, and people. The idea then occurred to me of why? And while these resources seem to appear unconnected, what if they all stem from one problem? Could we create a tool (or set of tools) to help alleviate these main struggles? Is there a tool that can help nonprofit organizations gain the valuable resources they need in order to be more successful? The purpose of this thesis is to explore the major problems nonprofits face through research. In addition to finding the major issues I am exploring possible solutions stemming from new ideas and looking at what for-profit businesses are doing in the current market. I believe the main reason for the lack of funding and people stems from visibility and am focusing on how visibility translates into tangible resources. As a creative-minded person it is an exciting challenge to try to find the missing link in a problem that has the potential to equip thousands to help hundreds of thousands of people. I believe the key to growth, sustainability, and overall effective change stems from being visible, understood, recognized, and shared through communities, networks, and people. When a nonprofit is clearly recognizable and people have heard of the organization, know the purpose, and believe in their mission it is the next step is to support, donate, and volunteer. When looking at visibility several key questions need to be thought through. What action steps need to be taken in order to engage your supporter network as well as expand it? What framework needs to be intentionally created to have a strong clear message that will be easy understood, recognized, and will inspire like-minded people to support you? These questions can be broken into more bite size questions such as: What is our brand? Who is our main audience? What do we want to accomplish? How are we communicating with people? How can we communicate and connect to our audience better? What tools can we use to connect with people? Through research, case studies, and creative strategies I looked at possible potential resources nonprofit organizations can tap into and what tools would be needed for organizations to effectively use these resources.