Having (and maintaining) a compelling online presence can be a struggle for charities and nonprofits. How to convey all that passion, expertise, and drive in code and pixels? How to keep digital costs down and maximize returns? Here are seven things that you can do to upgrade your nonprofit’s digital brand in 2017.
Content Strategy Aligned with Real Stories
A good website relies on good content – whether that be in the form of blog posts, landing pages, or copy.
Make sure that your charity’s content strategy is all about the people you support and the people seek to engage. Review your blog’s editorial calendar, your email campaigns, on-page copy, and donor page messaging. Are you hitting the right notes with the words you’ve chosen to use?
1. Dial down impersonal company press releases and milestones on your blog – focus on sharing real people stories and successes instead. These stories will make your content more engaging; and much more likely to be shared. It might take you longer to gather real stories and get them approved – but the effort will be well worth the wait.
2. Gritty nonprofit user-generated content like survivor stories are empowering and uplifting. Share insider stories and personal challenges to give your charity a friendly and relatable face.
3. Adding genuine personality to your blog is about enthusing talented copywriters and marketers with a true passion for your cause. Make sure that web content production is something that your team take seriously.
Interactive Fundraising Technology
Bring digital into the heart of your organization to help you reach your fundraising resolutions.
Manage donor data, online donations, and campaign particulars with the help of bespoke technological solutions specifically made for charities.
● Don’t rely on dusty old spreadsheets to manage your all-important donor relationships – use smart technology (like the ones offered by Fronstream) to make your efforts more valuable to your organization. Cultivate long term relationships with frequent personalized emails and updates.
● Online donations are practical, easy to manage, and easy to track. Make sure you have plenty of digital avenues for collecting money, and always give donors the option to contribute different amounts. Use the advanced reporting functions and list management offered by donation software in order to easily share fundraising goals with donors and stakeholders.
Give your digital brand a facelift
Graphic design and digital design are super important for nonprofits – not just because they make you look ‘smart’, but because they help people build a relationship with the work that you do. An outdated brand will put supporters off, and will make it harder for you to produce meaningful merchandise and marketing literature.
● Websites are interactive environments that need constant updates to stay fresh. Revisit your site’s design on a regular basis. Looking outdated? Speak to your web team and see what can be done to turn back the clocks – the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to fix. Take inspiration from these awesome nonprofit websites.
● Approach your charity website more like a commercial one – are the benefits of what you do obvious? Would people want to be associated with your brand? If you’re dealing with somethingthat’s controversial or hard for people to be open about – how can you break those barriers with branding?
● The images you choose are hugely important – stock imagery is a lot less interesting that real pictures of real people. Try to be as inclusive in your images as you are in your language; be careful when selecting images for emotive trigger subjects.
Monetize Your Site
Websites aren’t designed to be informational brochures – they should work hard in order to attract donors, supporters, and advocates. Make sure your nonprofit website has a clear sales funnel or user journey.
1. Make sure your donor funnel ends with an easy-to-use online donation platform. Build consideration and trust, and don’t ask people for money until you’ve given them enough of a reason to do so. Once they are there – encourage flexible giving and make the action of donating as frictionless as possible.
2. Loads of successful nonprofits use ecommerce to further their cause – Amnesty UK sells books, organic chocolate, and social enterprise products on it’s highly profitable shop. Not a web techy? No fear – you can open up an online store in moments and start selling your own charity Christmas cards, branded tees, soft toys, chocolates – the sky’s the limit.
3. Ads can be a legitimate way to monetize your website – but you have to tread carefully and make sure that they are in keeping with your nonprofit.
Make it Social
Social media is a huge deal for nonprofits.
We’re always hoping for that one online video challenge that goes viral, or that ad that gets everyone talking. Whether you are big or small, make sure that your website successfully drives people to your social media channels (and vice versa).
● Social media can be integrated into your site with clever plugins – but no one will share your content unless you make it compelling. Make raising awareness on social media a core part of what you ask advocates to do. Have shareable quotes, pledges, and factoids to take the pressure off people having to think too much about it.
● Social media means that people can put their own voices and stamps on what you do, so it’s an unpredictable environment. Make sure you have clear social media policies in place, especially if you’re dealing with vulnerable people.
● Engage with your supporters publicly online and make them feel involved with the work that you do. Show support and compassion – treat your fundraisers like VIPs.
● Be clear on what channels work best for you. Instagram is great for nonprofits with visual content, whereas LinkedIn as a B2B networking site is great for charities who rely heavily on corporate fundraising.
Review Your SEO Strategy
People are engaging with organizations they find through search engines – make sure that your site comes up for your core keywords. (And that when people do find your site – they like what they see).
1. Good websites are much more than what you see on the surface – there is a whole technological engine room behind them that needs managing. A technical SEO audit is a good place to start. This will help you decide whether your title tags, meta descriptions, URL structure, user-experience, or backend code need a bit of a facelift.
2. Review your current rankings with a tool like SEMrush and see if you can improve your on-page relevancy. This might mean revising the language you use on a landing page, or creating new content around a topic that means a lot to you.
3. All websites need links as votes of confidence – but be careful where you get yours from. Don’t fall into cheap and easy ways of link building – focus on editorial content links or genuine digital PR. There are loads of people out there with big online followings who may be able to share your cause. Cultivate good relationships with online influencers and publications.
4. SEO is a long-term digital strategy that needs good content, solid development, and other core web elements. Take it slow – don’t change everything all at once.
To recap: make sure that your content, web design, technical elements and promotional strategies are all geared towards engaging more people. Don’t let your website get left behind – it’s an important digital calling card for all the hard work that you do. Invest in new digital technologies that will make your life easier, and your fundraising smarter. What do you think is the number one key ingredient for a good nonprofit online presence?
Content Marketer & Startup Specialist
Passionate about writing for the startup and entrepreneurial audience, I have recently been part of setting up an exciting project at MicroStartups.org. We donate all our website profits to charities that help people reach their full potential. Find out more on Twitter.