Posted by Pamela McLeod

In case you don’t speak fluent emoji, the sentence above says, “Hello there, loving nonprofit organization who wants to better the world.” If you have a smartphone, social media account or used the internet at all within the last five years, you’ve probably seen the latest technology craze: emoji.

Emoji are individual images managed by the Unicode Consortium that people use like characters of text to convey emotions, such as a wink, smile or heart. With over 1,800 emoji available, virtually any image can describe full phrases like in the sentence above. The icons originated in Japan in the late 1990s, but emoji as we know them first came about in 2011 and have only grown in popularity since then. In fact, Oxford Dictionary crowned emoji their Word of the Year in 2015.

Talk about funny emoji.

So what do these weird little images have to do with your nonprofit organization?

Actually, quite a bit. When it comes to nonprofit marketing, reaching as many people as possible can raise awareness, increase volunteer involvement and improve donor engagement. One vital part of marketing is understanding and leveraging current marketing trends.

Emoji marketing works well for three areas:

Mobile Marketing

Many brands have already started using emoji in their mobile marketing to communicate through phones. With today’s technology, consumers use smartphones regularly, and companies have begun to think of marketing as “mobile first.” As a nonprofit organization, taking advantage of mobile marketing helps raise awareness for your cause.

Emoji communicate messages simply and quickly via smartphone. In terms of mobile marketing, they are an invaluable resource to improving communication, transcending language barriers, breaking up blocks of text and reaching out to viewers’ emotions.

For your nonprofit, consider using these little icons in your social media marketing. Examples of this show primarily on mobile apps like Instagram or Twitter. Example: An animal shelter may post a picture of a puppy for adoption at their facilities with an emoji call to action.

When it comes to technology, an abundance of information makes the battle for donor attention more difficult. Focusing emoji marketing on mobile devices allows your nonprofit organization to convey a message by engaging constituents through short, real and emotional images. Volunteers and donors can relate because of a playful appeal on a platform they connect with.

Cross-Media Marketing

When it comes to cross-media marketing, emoji bring an advantage. You can incorporate them in messages, website text, social networking sites, email and even print media. Because emoji are considered a code governed by the Unicode Consortium, developers treat them as a standardized language across platforms. The Unicode regulates emoji to work on whatever medium your nonprofit organization chooses to market through.

For example, if your nonprofit organization works in promoting women’s rights, you could create an emoji marketing campaign to send out text messages, emails and social media posts

Staying aware of copyright privileges, your nonprofit can use an emoji campaign on print materials or interact with donors through emoji text responses. Since emoji function like a language, using them on various media platforms means they will look similar—if not the same—no matter how your constituents view the message.

By reaching out to your constituents in simple and clear messages through a variety of platforms, your nonprofit organization will raise awareness for its cause, engage volunteers and increase donor involvement.

Marketing to Millennials

For a nonprofit, you may wonder how to increase Millennial involvement with donors and volunteers. The Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) provides a massive source of potential constituents. The group numbers about 75.4 million persons, even larger than the Baby Boomer generation.

So how can your nonprofit reach out to this multitude of fresh young involvement? By appealing to their short attention spans, of course.

In a recent study, four out of ten Millennials said they would rather engage with pictures than read written text. This means nearly 50% of Millennials won’t respond to your nonprofit’s marketing materials if you don’t include pictures.

Your nonprofit can take advantage of Millennials’ instant gratification by capitalizing on emoji marketing. Meeting potential constituents where they stand shows involvement and improves likeliness of gaining volunteers and donors. For example, your nonprofit could send a text message emoji to potential volunteers.

Take a look at this example from PETA asking people to text a heart emoji, opting supporters in for mobile alerts about the campaign plus opportunities to share their cause with followers on Twitter.

Before your nonprofit organization jumps headfirst into emoji marketing, consider these few steps and recommendations.

As Oxford Dictionary said in their Word of the Year report, “Emoji are no longer the preserve of texting teens—instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers.” Emoji have become a mainstream part of today’s communication, and your nonprofit can get involved in marketing with them.

By taking advantage of emoji marketing, your nonprofit organization can reach constituents through mobile and cross-media promotion and reach out to the Millennial generation. Get involved in today’s technology, promote your cause and grow your efforts. And don’t forget to celebrate World Emoji Day on July 17, because these little icons deserve a world all their own.

Want to take your nonprofit organization’s marketing to the next level? Firespring offers helpful materials, webinars and seminars on how your nonprofit can market itself to further its cause. Find out more by calling 877.447.8941 or email