How Nonprofits can learn from the Booming Superhero Franchise

By Charity Fundraising - May 29th, 2016

Captain America Civil War 16x20

Superhero mania has swept the entertainment industry in recent years. The success of the Superhero franchise has been staggering.

Examples of this can be seen with the featured films of the Iron Man franchise, which has grossed more than 1.66 billion dollars, Spider-Man franchise, which has grossed more than 1.30 billion dollars, and the superhero super-pack movie – The Avengers – earning 1.5 billion dollars in revenue at the box office!

The countless number of merchandise products sold after a featured film becomes a hit can only multiply these staggering numbers.

So what can we learn from these franchises? Here are three foundational principles used by these franchises that will benefit your nonprofit:

  1. Know your audience:

Superhero franchises know their audience. As their audience has grown over the decades, these franchises have also grown to understand and connect with diverse demographics – from preteens, high school to college kids, all the way up to men and women in their mid-thirties and beyond.

Understanding your audience is vastly important in both the entertainment industry and for nonprofit organizations. Whether you are a large scale organization, a school fundraising, or a small group, the “audience” for nonprofit organizations are their donors. Just like consumers, donors make an organization continue. Without the support of the consumer and donor, the comic book and the nonprofit would cease to create and grow.

  1. Prioritize your audience:

Tailor to your audience. Make them the your priority in all of your decisions. Make them apart of your team.

This is something the superhero franchises have done a stellar job at achieving. This is seen by their wide array of different characters that live and struggle in different circumstances.

In the same way, your nonprofit is like a superhero character – your organization is tailored to help and be helped by a specific audience – your donors. People gravitate to a superhero because of his or her ability and passion to fight against injustice. An audience gathers around to support something they believe in; something that they feel they can relate to.

Likewise, your organization will have people gravitate to you for your ability to change this world for the better. Your donors want to come along side you and help you in that struggle.

The Superhero Franchise recognizes their audience’s desire to be apart of the story – and they invite their audience to join the hero’s cause.

If you prioritize your donors, you will be inviting them to join you. Your organization is the leader, the vigilante with a cause; your donors are the supporters willing to act if they are given the opportunity.

  1. Know that your audience is always changing

The superhero franchise started in 1938 with a small audience: a mostly young, male dominated market. Over the years, the audience for superheroes has grown exponentially.

In the same way, as your organization grows, your reach and support will also grow. An organization based on principle will continue to reach more and more people. This means that knowing and prioritizing your donors – your audience – is not a one-and-done step. It is a constant and ongoing relationship between your organization and its supporters.

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