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Getting creative with your target audience

There is great work being done across the world to not only communicate the missions and impact of nonprofit organizations, but also to deliver innovative, lasting messages that influence change and ultimately make the world a better place.

I was moved by a recent bus-stop advertisement from the ANAR (Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk) Foundation, based in Madrid, Spain, dedicated to serving children and adolescents, the most defenseless in society. ANAR provides telephone hotlines to help children and adolescents with their problems or concerns, and protects and empowers them by giving them solutions.

The ad, which features the headline, “Sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it,” and a photo of a child, includes a hidden message, only visible to those under 4 ft. 5 in. Meant for a child, the hidden message offers a hotline to call if someone abuses him or her. More about the ad can be found here.


It’s difficult to cut through the daily clutter of competing messages and multiple media channels. How can a nonprofit break through the chaos? This ad serves as a reminder to take a step back and really focus on who you are trying to communicate with and what the hurdles might be to get your audience to see a message--whether it be a child accompanied by an abusive parent or a potential donor who may not have time to check his or her emails. What is your target audience’s pain points, roles and responsibilities? What drives their decisions? How can you take those components and stand out against the hundreds of thousands of messages people are receiving in the social world?

Diana Hand Diana Hand

My best advice is to unplug. Get away from your computer and smartphone, and do an off-site team brainstorm with ice breaker exercises and see what creative ideas you stumble upon! Where does your marketing team do your best creative thinking? What tips do you have on getting through the clutter?

Diana Hand is GuideStar’s senior marketing manager.

Topics: Communications