We’ve Moved On… But Some NPOs Didn’t Get the Memo

| April 26, 2012

Like it or not, in order to communicate with stakeholders and impress funders, create an organizational cultural identity, and rank reasonably well with search engines like Google, nonprofits now have to publish meaningful and releveant content.  That means that most organizations need a blog, in part so that search engines will recognize you, and in part because your website is the only digital property you fully own and control. On top of that, you must have a real dedication to your second most important tool – your newsletter – because it’s the most widely used message medium, and it’s the only truly pro-active tool you have (readers have to come to your website, but you send an email to their inbox – they have to at least read the subject line in order to decide to trash it). Social media fills the gaps in message mode and depth. Frequent posts to Facebook, for instance, let’s your followers have a peek at the daily activities and provides a great place for pictures and video. Facebook is a poor place for that latest White Paper, but great for a conversation with followers.

All of these media work together. Your newsletters and social media drive readers to your website where you build a large amount of content over the years. Every page of that content is another point of entry into your website from search engines. Every communication builds a connection between synapses in a potential donor or board members mind. Every small decision to click a link or like something leads to a bit more agency buy-in for when they get that annual capital campaign request. It’s a spider-web of engagement; each avenue has a purpose and a role, each intersects with the whole. But after all is said and done, it’s to build recognition and familiarity that gets your followers to consider that donation, that volunteer engagement, just a millisecond longer because… you’ve created a relationship.

Know who else looks at your communication strategy? Grant makers and foundations. Your engagement over time shows sustainability, creativeness and customer loyalty. It’s about engagement and savvy Web 2.0 use. It’s about sharing content.

What is content? Content is anything of interest to your audience. Does your nonprofit provide literacy services to older adults? Widen the conversation and talk to them about Alzheimer’s,  Medicare, and planning for independent living. Provide a specific service to children? Broaden the perspective and talk to the parents and grandparents about teething, sleep deprivation, and early learning programs. Never just send them “Event Listings” – unless you have something against readers actually reading your messages. Engage them where their interests are! We are multifaceted human beings, so the communication strategy starts with learning the depth of your audience’s interests.

Be different. Here’s a challenge for you. Start collaborating with business sponsors for special deals or pre-views that make getting your newsletter just a bit more enticing… and sharable. Email companies like Constant Contact  make that easy, and trackable (disclosure: I am a Constant Contact partner and trainer). Never do things in the dark. Test, redo, and test some more.

Your old static website needs to go in the dustbin with the Palm Pilot (sorry if anyone out there still uses that!). Need information on making it happen for your nonprofit, let me know.

 Constant Contact(R)Trusted Email Marketing

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Category: News & Advocacy, Toolbox, Uncategorized

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