In late February, Google announced a significant change to its search algorithm. While it usually doesn’t talk much about how its crawlers review Web pages, this particular change was worthy of notice because it will affect essentially every website, including one run by your nonprofit. Starting April 21, Google’s search algorithm will have greater focus on “mobile friendliness” in determining page rank. In particular, when supporters look for you on their mobile devices, your page rank will be greatly affected by whether your site has a full level of optimization. That means less visitors and fewer people getting interested in your cause if your site isn’t optimized. Nonprofit content management tools with mobile device optimization in mind can help you manage this significant change to the way your supporters see you.
An impact event
Many online publications, including Entrepreneur Magazine, are already calling this “mobilegeddon.” There’s a good reason for that: While the two largest algorithm changes, Panda and Penguin, were significant, they didn’t have that much scope. They were usually targeting websites that were attempting to game the search engine to score page views based on faulty or malicious content. On the other hand, this update will impact every site on the searchable Web, including regular websites. More importantly, there has been an increase in mobile searches, garnering up to 60 percent of all searches according to comScore. That’s a lot of supporters looking to see your work. If you’re not thinking about mobile already, this should be the kick in the pants that gets you going.
This past week, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival hosted a panel on nonprofit organizations, called “Activism At Its Best.” In it, the main question was: What can organizations do to increase online engagement among potential supporters? This is an especially big question when it comes to the one demographic that everyone likes to talk about but nobody seems to grasp: millennials. You can’t just coast on your name anymore, especially because there are so many organizations out there that are trying to do what you’re doing. Instead, your cause is the focus, since their interest in you is often based on that alone. You have to reach out to them, rather than the other way around. Nonprofit CRM software can assist by giving you better ways to effectively communicate with them.
Go for the connection
When building up that connection, it’s important to have a strategy that invokes the cause as much as possible. At the SXSW panel, Hilary Gridley of DoSomething.org noted that her organization’s template for drawing in supporters is defined as, “Know it. Plan it. Do it. Prove it.” This model of thinking taps into the ideal of actions taking a personal agenda, according to The Nonprofit Times. Similarly, you should have a strategy for your nonprofit’s mission that is built on people doing things for their own sake, not just for the greater good of the cause.
Another way to interest millennials is direct communication and support. Young people, who have grown up on social media, feel a need to be more connected to the cause and people that influence their beliefs. Lori Painter of PETA turned her nonprofit’s site into a source that coaches people who are interested in supporting animal rights, but aren’t sure how to really do it. While you don’t need to overhaul your site and staffing to reflect how to help with your cause, you can be supportive by simply answering emails or social media posts.
“Even if you don’t have full time staff, just take the time to respond and listen, that’s the way to build relationships,” Painter said.
Provide a more direct way to give
Just as much as your organization develop a more personalized agenda among supporters, donors should be treated in a similar manner. According to Network for Good’s Millennial Donor Playbook, you should determine if you’re doing enough for your organization to create a connection with potential donors. Millennials can be an impulsive bunch, acting in the moment. Playing to that aspect through pictures and video can help push these people to contribute to your cause in some way.
More importantly, you should be able to give these millennials the means to explain themselves when they act on the cause. This includes explaining where exactly their donations went in a way that is transparent and succinct. For example, after the contribution is made, send the donor a video that shows your organization conducting a mission backed by monetary gifts. After seeing who benefits from donations, millennials can share the cause with others, making your more compelling to people everywhere.
It can be challenging to handle all the tech roles for your nonprofit. This is especially the case if you were given the role just because you happen to know your way around a computer. You likely want access to a few programs that will make it easier for you to manage your constituent and volunteer data. A reliable nonprofit CRM can help you with the most important tasks, such as managing donations and events, and with Salesforce as that CRM, you have at your disposal a great many apps that can make your job even easier. Here are two free apps that can aid with some of the tasks that come with running the technical side of your organization.
You know that Facebook is one of the main resources for developing a strong rapport with your constituents. With more Likes attached to your page, there's a chance more people are looking at your mission and cause, increasing the potential for additional volunteers as well as donations. A lot has changed in recent years, and as Business Insider notes, the recent restructuring of the news feed has resulted in significant challenges for nonprofit organizations. But that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel when it comes to that social media channel. Here are some ways to make sure you're still reaching out to customers through the feed and beyond.
Talk to your members and donors directly
As Hootsuite notes, developing a list of your constituents on Facebook can be really helpful. Matching this list with members found in your nonprofit CRM database can also assist you in making meaningful interactions. Another important aspect to consider as you have this list is to read what your members are saying and respond to them. By being involved with your supporters through direct communication, you show your organization is part of the larger community.
Recently, Facebook added a new feature where you can directly reply to comments, rather than have the comments form a single thread. This is very advantageous to your nonprofit for two reasons. For one, when you speak directly to someone, they'll feel like they're important and that what they're saying has relevance, helping you foster a relationship with them. Secondly, you can better isolate and capture this interaction for use with your CRM software.
Share your members' stories
You shouldn't just see your Facebook page as a way to raise money. It's also there to build awareness for your cause. In this environment, you should be on the lookout for people doing so because they care about the cause, especially if they have something to share.
Remember that you're storytellers, first and foremost. Look through the list of donors and, when possible, peruse their personal pages. They may have a story to tell either in text or video form. By utilizing the share functions, you can take advantage of Facebook's emphasis on sharing information to generate interest in your mission to both regular members and visitors who happen to like your page. Nonprofit executive Liz Strauss, in speaking with NTEN, suggested that's the best route.
"Let the folks who give be part with their hands and minds – not just their hearts and wallets," she said. "We're not the only ones with great ideas."
Raising awareness for your cause can be a tricky business. You may have clipboard people on the streets and special ad placements in print and web publications, among other things. What about search, though? There are a lot of people thinking about your organization's mission, either directly or indirectly. These people could become donors, volunteers or supporters very easily. As a result, you should be looking at ways to improve your search engine optimization, or how you're seen and discovered on search engines. By doing that, you'll get more people to look into the projects your nonprofit is working on.
But how do you measure your SEO? Being a nonprofit is quite different from being a media page. You don't have people placing ads on your site, and you're not necessarily looking for page clicks. So here are some tips to get you going in the right direction, using basic analytics tools:
Last week, just outside Washington, D.C., a large group of video game players and fans gathered for a week-long event called Awesome Games Done Quick. It was a marathon streamed live on the Internet that had gamers finish video games as fast as possible using skills and a variety of exploits, a process called "speedrunning." You may think that this event seems ridiculous and unrelated to nonprofits. However, by running it like a telethon, AGDQ raised $1.56 million in donations through various channels in that week for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Such an incredible fundraising drive helps us provide valuable insights on using the Internet as way to hold events and raise money. Here are four lessons you can learn from this experience, especially as it relates to using nonprofit CRM software.
In 2012, nonprofit organization 92nd Street Y, in conjunction with the United Nations Foundation, created Giving Tuesday. Strategically placed days after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the event with the hashtag #GivingTuesday was meant to bring something that has always been part of the holidays back into the fore: the spirit of giving. Many organizations sought to use Giving Tuesday to reach out to regular and infrequent donors alike to boost their support.Read more »