Special to Philanthropy Journal
By Stacy Jones
There are a lot of people counting on a nonprofit organization, from clients to donors and funders and public policy advocates to even new potential supporters. Following some basic guidelines and making small adjustments to marketing strategies nonprofits use all the time can ensure accountability and lay the foundation to build better relationships with constituents and the public.
Website: Open door into the organization
A nonprofit’s organizational website is often one of the first impressions made on someone visiting the organization for the first time. Even long-time supporters who may not be so engaged will visit the website from time to time. Does your website give your audience an open door into the organization or does it provide too little information and appear private and secretive? There are some additions your website should have if it wishes to remain transparent. These can be the difference between a donor selecting your organization for their donation or passing you by for another.
- Post your annual report that shows your program accomplishments and your financials.
- Add a link to your 990 forms and IRS determination letter.
- List board member with their names, titles and affiliations – a photo of each can help as well.
- Provide full contact information including address, phone number and email. A form for someone to fill out to contact you just doesn’t cut it anymore.
- Add affiliations, social enterprises and collaborations on the website. If your nonprofit is also running a social enterprise or has business collaborations, they should not be hidden.
Engage through Social Networking
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and many other social networking sites are available for nonprofits to use to promote their causes, engage their supports and raise money for their organizations. But what you do on these sites can be the difference between building relationships or not.
People are on social networking sites to engage with one another; if your nonprofit is on these sites, it should, too. Social networking offers nonprofits a unique way to create and maintain ongoing two-way dialogue with its supporters. But that means a nonprofit has to do more than post event information from time to time. Share news and keep your audience updated about the organization in real time. Post research, ask your audience’s opinion, invite participation and engage in conversation about issues the organization cares about.
Many nonprofits are afraid of using social networking because of something negative being posted. The reality is most of the comments will be positive or neutral in nature. And if there is something negative, this is the chance for the nonprofit to respond in a calm, honest, direct and thoughtful way. A nonprofit can address concerns immediately and educate or address concerns in a way it couldn’t before social networking.
Behind the Scenes Blog
A blog is a great middle of the road opportunity that is more dynamic in nature that the organization’s website but not as minute-by-minute as social networking. It’s always a great way to give your audience some more in-depth behind the scenes knowledge of the programs being offered, the issues a nonprofit cares about and new and interesting research coming out in the field. It is also a great venue for posting your own press releases, asking a donor to be a guest blogger about their experience or why they donated, and posting your own news articles. Invite readers to comment and give feedback for an added experience.
SHOESTRING (the nonprofit’s agency), a Philanthropy Journal Supporter, is a branding and PR agency that specializes in and exclusively serves nonprofit organizations. Stacy Jones is a senior project director located in San Antonio, Texas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-835-6236.