Everyone who runs a business – nonprofit or otherwise – grapples with where to invest resources for long-term growth. When you’re weighing how best to focus your nonprofit resources to build support with current, lapsed, and prospective donors, put your money into developing your website and email capabilities. An investment in social media can help too, but only after you’ve given your website the attention it needs. Here’s why you should – and perhaps how you should – deploy your digital-fundraising resources for maximum return. It all starts with…
Everything your friends need – right where they can find it
- Build a library of useful information to help your visitors become experts in your cause. Offer your insights and tools, and provide context for articles, polls, white papers, authoritative studies, videos, news articles created by others. Put it all on your website where your stakeholders (and staff) can find it whenever they need it. Make these valuable assets easy to share.
- Build forms that let visitors take action to support your work: donation forms (that integrate securely with your donor database and bank account please); volunteer sign-ups; event registration. These are all tasks the internet has mastered, and most of your fans will have lots of experience registering and paying for things online. Include an automatic and immediate confirmation – even if you plan to offer a more personal acknowledgement later.
- Tell stories about how your organization’s work is changing individuals’ lives and ask for help in creating more progress. We’ve talked about this before.
- Commit to looking regularly (start with monthly) at your website’s analytics. How many folks are visiting your website? Are they using smartphones or computers (or both?) to access your information? Which pages are they reading, and how are they finding them? Even if you only have a small number of visitors to your website each month, understanding their use of your site tells you where to invest more resources.
Recognize your friends, and keep building trust
- Build one list – it doesn’t matter how many folks are on it – of email recipients who have taken specific actions with you: they’ve each given a donation to you this year; they’ve each volunteered in the last 2 months; they’ve each attended a free event in the last year; they’ve each downloaded a white paper in the last six months.
- Create an email that goes to everyone on the list. Acknowledge the interaction and ask for another. Do they know how much progress you’ve made since they were last with you? Link to the article on your website. Can you show them what’s on the horizon for your cause and your organization? Link to the infographic on your website. Are there questions you want to ask them? Embed a poll in your email or link to a poll on your website. Have they signed-up yet for your upcoming event? Link to the registration page on your website. Pick up where you left off, and advance the conversation.
- If your email platform offers it, find a way to personalize the email you send to your select group. Add a salutation that includes their first name; mention the name or date of that last event they attended. Don’t be creepy, but show you are paying attention to them and their support.
- Repeat these 3 steps with more small groups important to your organization. Keep the conversations going. Keep building trust. And ask your friends to keep supporting your cause.
- Commit to looking regularly (start with monthly) at your email analytics. Who opened your email? Who clicked through to the article or poll or registration page you referenced? Did anyone unsubscribe? Were all the emails delivered, or are there problems with some of your email addresses? Even if you only have a small number of email recipients each month, understanding their interest in your email (and the web content to which you linked) tells you where to invest more resources.
Maybe folks will see it – and maybe you’ll know they do
- YES – Post to your favorite social media platform, and promote the new thing on your website (progress report, success story, video, link to new study, event announcement, giving campaign).
- YES – use social media to participate in an ongoing conversation about your cause. Link to relevant resources on your website.
- YES – consult your Platform Insights or Analytics regularly to learn about the interactions there.
- AND – recognize that you can’t control who sees your social media posts, nor can you always know that followers have seen your post (not everyone who reads your post Likes or Hearts or Clicks or Shares). So it may reach your audience or it may not – you can’t really know.
Just Do It – I’m Begging You
Dedicate the most resources to building useful information on your website. Make your website the hub of all the information you want to share with donors and other stakeholders. Use email and social media to help folks find all that useful information on your website. Consult your analytics regularly to understand what’s working. Do more of what’s working.
And listen: You don’t have to master all of this at once. Find an area where you can make something useful quickly, and get started. If you need help, email me!