3 Ways To Avoid Scaring Supporters Away With Heavy Content

If your organization’s mission involves dark subject matter or heavy content, you may find yourself feeling envious of how easily other nonprofits share their opportunities and successes.

Maybe your organization works to combat online child sex abuse or fights to provide hope for those struggling with mental health issues. Maybe you can’t talk about your wins without talking about things you know the general public may find disturbing or uncomfortable.

If you’re trying to figure out how to engage with current and potential supporters but fear there’s a fine line between engaging them and traumatizing them, this blog post is for you.

Here are three ways you can mindfully share stories with supporters while still honoring the work you do.

1. Strike A Balance

We’re not advocating for you to stop sharing about, say, the number of kids suffering abuse and neglect or people accessing your domestic violence shelter. It’s important that your audience knows the gravity of the work you do, and statistics like these can communicate urgency.

At the same time, however, if you’re only sharing the dark parts of your work, you risk your supporters burning out. You want them to finish reading your email or seeing your social media posts and feeling engaged, not stressed by the heavy content to the point of wanting to hit the unfollow or unsubscribe button.

Here are some ways you can strike a balance:

Highlighting your staff

Bring a lighter, more human side to your work and shout out the team members who make your work possible. Who are the people on the frontlines? What keeps them engaged in this work? What do they want supporters to know? Show your supporters who is carrying out your mission from inside the organization.

Elevate the wins

When the stakes are this high, the wins are even more significant. Spotlight a client success story, how your work touched supporters, or a big funding win. Solidify in their minds that, despite the dark days, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, one you will continue to work toward.

Bring the why to the center

Your supporters may know what you do, but you also should make sure you tell them why you’re doing it. Again, humanize the light part of your work. What does it mean when your organization accomplishes a goal? What does the impact look when client or organization outcomes are achieved?

2. Embrace Content Warnings

Like we said, we don’t want you to stop sharing the important statistics and somber stories; they communicate the seriousness of the work you do. But what equates to just another Tuesday at the office for you can be triggering for your audience. That’s where content warnings come in.

A content warning is a sentence or two that lets your audience know you’re about to share something that some may find disturbing. It can be as simple as saying, “The post below contains content related to domestic violence.” Readers can then choose to engage with the content or not.

It’s best to separate it from the post so readers don’t skim over it and miss it. This simple gesture can protect readers that might be triggered by the information, which lets them know you respect their space. If they feel respected, they will be more likely to engage with your content in the future.

3. Prepare for Sharing Heavy Content

Preparation is what’s going to make sure the information you share is balanced and your content warnings are thoughtful. Though this will require time and energy on the part of your organization, it lays important groundwork.

This can be as simple as making a plan at the start of the week or month about what to share and determining what warnings might be necessary for heavy content you’ll share.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What is normal to you but may not be normal to them? Not sure how to do this? Ask your audience. Survey some of your community to see what posts and emails are working and which ones could use polishing.

Your audience wants to engage with you and the work you do, even if it’s heavy. We hope these tips help you feel more secure in sharing that work in a thoughtful way.

Want to know the three-step formula for telling your nonprofit’s story? Read more here.