Your nonprofit website has a hard job to do. It needs to both educate and engage, as well as drive crucial signups and donations. But how can your organization ‘do digital’ well? It’s normal to fear that you’ll lose sight of your true cause behind all the digital strategies and technologies.
But true digital success is about being more human and more connected than ever before. Here are some ways that you can upgrade your nonprofit’s digital brand this year – embrace a holistic approach that encompasses your website and all your other digital assets.
Upgrade your content strategy
PR, SEO, user engagement, donations, marketing, social media – content lies at the heart of a great charity website and is the core of your digital brand. Invest time and energy into translating your mission into words, graphics, and compelling stories. Content is the digital bridge that will help you reach more advocates and donors.
- Create an editorial calendar – make sure you get proper sign-off to cover the stories that you want, and that all the relevant stakeholders ‘buy in’ at the beginning of the year. Factor in seasonal events and awareness days so that you never miss a beat with your content by always staying topical.
- Integrate your websites’ blog, e-newsletters, and social media channels so that donors and supporters see similar messages everywhere. Vary stories to make them platform-specific, but keep the core messages coherent.
- Great online content is psychological – learn what makes people tick (and why).
- Have you got loads of great research coming out of your organization? Create an online content library filled with these research insights, packaged into whitepapers, articles, and videos. Don’t forget to translate what’s happening ‘out there’ with your organization into digital content.
Invent a fun hashtag
Standing out online is a challenge.
Sometimes being a bit cheeky and having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt – that’s where a fun nonprofit hashtag comes in. Fun hashtags will help your nonprofit social campaigns stand out, and will help you brand your nonprofit as a fun and relatable organization. Hashtags can be used anywhere and can be integrated into website graphics and email campaigns.
- How to make a good hashtag? You have to start with something memorable. You could make a surprising connection (like this one between Kenya and Kanye), or use a bit of irony to get people talking. Just make sure it’s not offensive and that it carries a clear and simple message. Don’t try to do too much in one hashtag.
- Show people how your hashtag can be used in many different contexts – and be patient when you’re waiting for people to adopt it. Invest in some sponsored posts and paid advertising to give your campaign an uplift.
Review your donor experience
Time well spent is time spent improving your online donor experience.
- Online donation pages are your money pages. They must be clear, build trust, and be unique to your cause and organization. Always have a clear value proposition and call to action. (Check these ones out for inspiration).
- When you are dealing with people making a decision – don’t paralyze them with too much choice or too much disparate messaging. KISS = Keep things simple (stupid).
- Don’t forget about what happens after they click donate. Do you have a secure payment portal? What about a personalized thank you page? Can you ask people to share their pledge on social media next?
- What amounts are you suggesting? It’s a good idea to give a few different options and encourage continual giving (without giving them an overwhelming choice).
- Build a relationship with your donors from day one: send out great thank you emails and personalized messages – make people feel like a million dollars after they donate.
Capitalize on events online
Be seen and heard at publicized events. Nonprofits covering popular events as citizen journalists are in a great position to take control of event coverage, drive awareness, and increase web traffic at the same time.
- Live tweet during the event using the event hashtag and tag any speakers in your posts to up engagement levels. Go live with live video at the event and let other people join in on the fun.
- After the event, publish roundup, interview and commentary posts and videos on your blog. You could go for some news-oriented posts that show what you’ve learnt: What We Learnt at X, 10 Lessons We Have For Nonprofits From X etc. (Here’s an example of an event roundup post).
- Let all the relevant people (including organizers) know about your coverage. Most event marketers are super happy to share event coverage; and speakers like to hear what others made of their talk.
- Always get some good pictures and video at the event – try to remember where and when photos were shot, and who’s in them too!
Invest in ecommerce
Get a slice of the ecommerce apple for your nonprofit in 2017. Selling products online doesn’t mean owning a huge warehouse and dealing with loads of manufacturers – ecommerce these days is a lot more simple than that.
- Sell online through Amazon or Ebay to get a feel for what sorts of products make sense for your organization. You could sell products that somehow connect with your cause, or then you could just try to sell items to make a profit that is then re-invested back into other projects. Whatever you do, think about the potential PR consequences of negative product or seller reviews.
- Sign up for AmazonSmile so that Amazon donates whilst your supporters shop. Easy and hassle-free, this is hands-free ecommerce fundraising. Make lots of noise about your involvement in the program to get as many people as possible to sign up. You could even have a banner on your website (or a page) that explains all about it.
- Keen to take control with your own online store? Start your own charity ‘swag’ store on your domain today and sell branded tees, cup holders, phone cases etc. It’s a great way to make money and to spread your nonprofit branding far and wide. Many of the bigger, national players make lots through their online stores, but it’s a strategy that works for more local, smaller organizations too.
Go all-out visual
Copy is important for search engine optimization, but visuals are super important for user engagement.
Make sure that your website is appealing to visual learners and creative souls. Even if you are dealing with a ‘dry’ or serious topic, don’t neglect the power of pictures and images to help explain your cause to the world.
- The relationship between copy and visuals is delicate – they have to be in harmony. Serious messaging calls for toned down visuals, whereas bold and fun claims match a more colorful design.
- Use visuals to educate and engage. Illustrations and custom designs can really brighten up a bland research report or whitepaper and can help people understand complex topics better.
- Make your website and social profiles stand out with unique images, not corny stock photos.
Tell an interactive story
Does your website tell a story? Is it one that is going to make people care enough to donate?
- Websites that get people involved in their story with timelines, graphics, and animations are so much more compelling than a stationary page of text. Get creative with your website design to make it more engaging.
- Think about how you could reframe functional pages and introduce more personality to your site. Having a digital mascot or some online activities is a great way to engage younger supporters.
- User resources and guides that go into detail about the work that you do are a great way to share your story and knowledge with the world. Make sure that they are well designed and thought-out so that they send the right message.
Digital is where a lot of nonprofits can turn to in order to increase donations, find new advocates, and raise awareness. Use the power of visual storytelling, strategy, and social media to your advantage to make sure you’re getting the most out of digital in 2017. What digital opportunities are you most excited to explore in 2017?