Cause Marketing in Action: Foojee and Global Village Project

Many of the nonprofit leaders I speak to are eager to align with companies for short-term sponsorships or long-term partnerships. And many of the small businesses owners I talk with want to be more charitable. It seems like an easy match, right? Not always.

Nonprofits are more likely to target individual donors or grants before approaching companies. And small businesses aren’t always sure how to implement a giving strategy, so they may only take advantage of opportunities that fall into their lap.

More often than not, it looks like a middle school dance with each occupying their own side of the gym. But I’m hoping to help fix that issue, and one way I’ll do that is by bringing you stories of philanthropy in action. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

So, on the eve of International Day of the Girl, I’m beyond delighted to tell you about the successful partnership between Foojee, an outsourced Apple IT department, and Global Village Project, the only school in the country dedicated to educating refugee girls who’ve had their education interrupted.

Lucas Acosta, the owner of Foojee is a long-time friend, and Amy Pelissero, head of Global Village Project, is someone I’ve heard about for years and am glad to finally meet. They are a fantastic case story of what is possible for a local social impact partnership.

 Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

Amy Pelissero and a few of the students at Global Village Project

First, we’ll get Lucas’ point-of-view on the partnership, and then bring it home with Amy’s perspective. I loved reading their responses, and think you will too!

Why did you choose to partner with Global Village Project?

Amy and her team have created this education from scratch, and have proven it to be successful with hundreds of refugee girls. They’re doing such impactful work, and I wanted to be a part of it in some way.

Why is this cause important to you?

There are two main reasons why GVP is important to us. Education is near and dear to our hearts at Foojee. We feel that education has an opportunity to improve a life regardless of a child's parents, culture, or religion. Secondly, GVP is focused directly on a segment of our society that is often overlooked: refugee girls. Women, especially in developing countries, are often the last to be recognized and supported, and GVP is solely focused on them.

What are the benefits you provide to the nonprofit?

We provide all of GVPs IT services including Mac and iPad management, networking, and security, and we do it at no cost to them. Why not just give money? We could donate money, but GVP’s efforts are so close to Foojee’s values that we want to offer our strengths to their cause.

What has this partnership done for your internal culture?

We’re not here to just provide IT services. We can use our strengths for good. We’re doing IT work, yes, but we’re here to serve a bigger purpose. We can make a positive impact in our society by our work, and partnering with GVP gives us a tangible way to contribute to our purpose.

Has this partnership benefited you externally, for example with clients or other partners?

We’ve been able to partner with Apple’s volunteer program, which has been a great opportunity for all three organizations. We introduced GVP to our local Apple team and within a few months, Apple employees were volunteering at the school by helping teachers best utilize their iPads and Macs in the classroom.

What is your hope for the future of your partnership with Global Village Project?

My hope is that GVP can continue to assist more girls, and extend their reach into more communities. If Foojee can play just a small part of their success, then I’m happy to continue partnering with them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sign up to volunteer! The stories I hear every time I visit just send chills down my back. GVP is on the front lines of restoring hope and building foundations to an underserved segment of our society. Here’s a video we made a couple years ago about the school to learn more.


 Lucas Acosta of Foojee

Lucas Acosta is passionate about Apple technology and people. If it’s got an Apple logo on it, his company, Foojee, makes it work in business and education. Lucas has been converting Windows users since 1993 (at the age of seven).

When he’s not building Foojee, you’ll find him reading about tech and business, crafting fine coffee, running, catching up on his favorite TV shows, or hanging out with his wife, Cristina and their daughter, Emilia.

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Here’s what Amy had to say.

Other than simply getting your IT needs managed, how has this partnership benefited GVP? What makes Foojee a good partner?

GVP was connected with Foojee in 2014—just as I was finishing my first year as Head of School—and I feel certain that our partnership has been foundational to the tremendous growth we have seen over the past four years. When we met, GVP was tightly strapped financially, and the pro bono work Foojee provided allowed us to broaden our services and our capacity across the board at a time when we could not otherwise afford to do so.

We were able to invest in new laptops, interactive whiteboards for our classrooms, online assessments and learning platforms for our students, and a STEAM and Career Exploration program because of what they were providing.

Foojee also acted as a powerful connector. They introduced us to Apple Education support services, Apple Store volunteers, and new potential friends and donors through their strong social media presence and the powerful promotional video they produced highlighting our partnership.

In addition to allowing us to expand and strengthen our services and our capacity to do the good work we do, Foojee provided us with knowledge, skills, and leadership that we desperately needed around IT and education.

Our partnership with Foojee has allowed us to build and develop a model STEAM program for refugee teenage girls with limited English and schooling and to enhance our program’s impact. GVP would not have been able to integrate and take advantage of technology in so many powerful ways without Foojee. They have provided invaluable support for our staff and students and directly and positively impacted the lives and learning of our students.

Foojee’s partnership has strengthened GVP in so many ways, including adding strength to our voice, our mission, and our vision of ensuring that refugee girls have the education they need to pursue their dreams. They believe in the work we do, stand beside us, and support us. We know that our strong collaboration allows us to join together to create a bigger impact in our community and dream a better world.

How do partnerships in general benefit both your internal and external culture at GVP?

In August we started our 10th academic year at GVP! Founded in 2009 by a handful of visionary volunteers with big dreams and a very brave first class of 30 students, GVP has become a place where we make a difference and dream a better world, one girl at a time.

Since our inception, we have served 225 refugee girls with limited English and interrupted formal schooling in our all-day academic program. Currently, 37 of our graduates have gone on to graduate from high school and 26 are enrolled in or have graduated from college.

Given that 75% of older newcomer refugee students do not complete secondary school and only 1% of refugees access tertiary education, we are proud to report that 96% of GVP alumnae who completed our program continue their education beyond our school. We depend on partners like Foojee to turn our dreams and our students’ dreams into a reality.

GVP’s founders understood the power of a strong community of support and imagined and created a place where a village of support enabled them to start and sustain a brand new school for refugee girls. GVP is the only school in the nation dedicated to educating newcomer refugee teenage girls.

We are certain that we have been able to make a difference for almost a decade now due to the strength and support we have found in our friendships and partnerships. We rely on our connections and relationships to influence our ways of thinking and doing, and are incredibly humbled by the opportunities our partners have opened to us. Together, we are transforming lives, our work, and our world.

What is your hope for the future of the partnership with Foojee?

I hope that our partnership will continue to develop and deepen with time. I see a future where we generate more recognition for the good work both organizations are doing, where we can help each other increase connections and meet new potential partners, and where the relationship is more evenly balanced.

Foojee has done so much for GVP, and we aim to give back to them in all the ways that we can. Specifically, I hope that we can continue to work thoughtfully and strategically to increase brand recognition and media coverage, to increase sales and funding, to attract new donors, volunteers, and clients, and to inspire change.

What do you wish more for-profit organizations knew about partnering with nonprofits?

Positive collaboration allows organizations to join together and make even bigger strides in bettering their community and improving the world. The end result of this kind of collaborative partnership is that both organizations are stronger.

Working with nonprofits can provide for-profit employees and leaders with a stronger sense of purpose, engagement, and create recognition for the good they are doing. Nonprofit partnership is a worthy and wise investment of resources.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and community—and in the power of each one in a partnership to positively influence and impact the other. We are deeply grateful to Foojee for their strong support and for the impact they are making in our school and in our students’ lives each and every day.


 Amy Pelissero of Global Village Projec

Amy Pelissero is the Head of School at Global Village Project, a special purpose school for newcomer refugee teenage girls with limited English and formal schooling. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience with students from preschool through adulthood, and strong ties to the refugee community.  

Amy lives in Decatur, GA with her husband and two daughters, and loves reading, writing, travel, live music, and time with family and friends. 

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  Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at a cause marketing partnership. Having an example to follow on the cause marketing journey can not only show you what a for-profit/nonprofit partnership looks like in action, but give you a glimpse of the magic it can create—on both sides.

 Kristi Porter of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


2 Simple Ways to Keep Your Website and Work Protected

Okay, let’s face it. Few of us lean in with anticipation when we start talking about intellectual property protection and legal stuff. But you know who does? My friend, Christina Scalera.

Christina was my business mentor for just over a year, and boy, did I learn a lot from here! She’s super smart, and removes a lot of the confusion and barriers to protecting your company and assets. Her genius business idea is The Contract Shop, a place to grab most of your legal needs in just a few minutes.

While you may not have any contract needs at this moment, most all of you will have a website (or will soon). And, guess what—it needs protecting.

I used to freelance write for a website developer, and we once found a site that was almost entirely copied from his design! Lawyers got involved, and the website got taken down, but it was just plain weird. I mean, who does that?

And while you may not get your website ripped off, you do need to protect the time, effort, and money you’ve put into it. I love writing websites for my clients, and would be heartbroken if anything happened to them.

Besides, you have your mission to think about, not to mention the secret sauce of the way you work. There’s also any proprietary photography and other assets. It’s all those details that add up to your beautiful and unique brand.

So, while this may not be the most exciting topic to discuss, it’s super important! Give it a read, and see what you think. Plus, Christina makes legalese a little more fun.

 2 Simple Ways to Keep Your Website and Work Protected

You’ve got the shiny new website, blog topics nailed down, beautiful social media graphics, and curated photos to drive your mission home. You’re almost ready to announce the launch of your brand spankin’ new website!

But whoa—hold up for just a minute, buckaroo!

Have you posted the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions on your site yet?  

Some of you are nodding along, and some of you are saying, “Wait, what?! What the heck is that?”

There’s no need to get freaked out! These two bits of legalese aren’t hard to understand and use, but it is a good idea to have them displayed prominently on your website. In fact, you could be violating federal law if you don’t.

So let’s talk about what they are, and what you need to do.


Privacy Policies

At their heart, Privacy Policies are intended to create transparency between users (in our case, readers) and yourself via your blog or website.

If you read blogs (like this one!), then you know that you leave little bits of your personal information behind when you visit. Things like your IP address, your name (or username), and email. If you make a purchase, there’s even more personal info that can be collected by the seller.

A Privacy Policy informs your visitors what information is collected from them when they visit your site, how you use that information (i.e: emails for your newsletter), and who else has access to the information (like your website hosting company).

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that any webpage collecting information from consumers, and/or that uses cookies, have a Privacy Policy available to visitors.

Not only is it legally required, but having one builds a greater sense of trust with your readers and makes you look more professional.


Where do I get a Privacy Policy?

Creating and implementing a Privacy Policy doesn’t have to be hard. You can start with an attorney-approved template, and then customize it to your situation.

You can also take note of what similar organizations use for their Privacy Policy. While I’m not recommending that you simply copy and paste, you’ll likely run across a few things you haven’t thought of, and you’ll get a sense of how a Privacy Policy can be made to represent your brand.

While this is the cheaper option, if you want to just get ‘er done and move on sans any worry or weird Frankenstein-ish policies you put together yourself, click here and snag your policies today.

Terms and Conditions

A basic Terms and Conditions policy tells people what they can and cannot do with your original content (like your photos, written words, or that cool idea you talked about in your last blog post). If you also sell content, it can be extended to protect you in the event that someone wants a refund or shares your content illegally.

It’s not at all uncommon for photos and content to be shared—with or without the permission of the creator—and often without credit. If this happens to you, what recourse do you have?

This is where a Terms and Conditions can help protect your interests. If you’ve clearly spelled out that you need to be asked for permission before your content is shared, then you’re on firmer ground if you need send a cease and desist letter or claim copyright infringement.

Just like the Privacy Policy, having a Terms and Conditions puts you on the level with your readers and consumers, lets them know that you’ve given thought (and care!) to what you’re doing and creating, and gives them clear instructions on how they can interact with your content.


Where do I get a Terms and Conditions policy?

Here again, you can cobble together your own, or start with a solid, attorney-approved Terms and Conditions template and customize it, which should cover everything you need and some things you might not have thought of.

Now you’re ready to rumble (legally-speaking anyway)!

I want to mention a couple other things before I wrap this up.

First, make sure that both the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions are posted with a prominent and direct link on your blog or website footer somewhere.

Second, don’t stress too much about making sure your policies cover every tiny thing. You can always update them as you go along. (Pro tip: It’s also a nice thing for your visitors if you include a “last updated on” date at the top of your policies, and make sure you mention that the policies can be updated at any time.)

Third, and finally, if you have visitors from the European Union, you should check out this article to make sure you have that extra step covered.

The moral of the story? Privacy Policies and Terms of Conditions are important. Don’t ride the range without one! (Or launch a website… you know what I mean. ;)

Note: Links are affiliate links, but I have Christina’s Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, and Independent Contractor templates myself! They are awesome and so easy to use.


 Christina Scalera, The Contract Shop

Christina Scalera is the attorney and founder behind The Contract Shop, a contract template store for creative entrepreneurs, wedding professionals, and coaches.

When she’s not staring at a computer or awkwardly standing on cafe chairs for the perfect overhead latte photo, you can find her in the woods doing things that are sometimes dangerous but always fun, like riding horses, skiing, and reluctantly camping.

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 A basic Terms and Conditions policy tells people what they can and cannot do with your original  content  (like your photos, written words, or that cool idea you talked about in your last blog post). If you also sell content, it can be extended to protect you in the event that someone wants a refund or shares your content illegally.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel

Been thinking about starting a YouTube Channel for your nonprofit or social enterprise? if so, you’re not alone. My intern, McKenzie Bethel, is about to share some compelling stats that may move you beyond simple curiosity.

In fact, for nonprofits, it may be the perfect time to begin! Just a few weeks ago, the video giant announced YouTube Giving, which will offer expanded tools for soliciting and receiving donations. But no matter your business model, here are a few, easy ways to create your YouTube channel.

 How

It can be difficult to clearly convey what you are thinking and feeling through written text. While traditional social media sites are great for starting, growing, and expanding your organization, sometimes the human to human connection can get lost in translation. This is one reason video has become so popular. It’s the next best thing to being in the room with someone.

And when it comes to video, there’s still no one bigger than YouTube. Along with connecting to your audience, YouTube can be used as a great marketing tool.

Why YouTube?

Over two million videos are viewed on the platform each day. Just imagine how much attention even a portion of that could bring to your nonprofit or social enterprise!

A little over 10 years ago, Google bought YouTube, making it one of the most searchable platforms around. This merger is great news for your organization and growing a channel, as this allows you to appear in many more search results.

YouTube has become a powerful form of communication because it makes sharing your message incredibly simple. And unlike other social media outlets, YouTube’s content is widely consumed outside of itself, such as on other websites. Embedded videos allow users to share your content almost anywhere for more people to see.

Another perk is its longevity. Videos are often watched and shared months after they were posted, even without promotion.

Before you jump in, though, there are a few things you need to know to make the best out of your new YouTube channel.  

 

1.     Choosing a URL

As they say, the internet is forever. Well at least your YouTube URL will be. Google, the owner of YouTube, makes it very difficult to change your URL, especially if you have a young and growing channel. Unless you qualify for a custom URL, you are stuck with the first one you select.

Choose something that is synonymous with your organization and brand. It’s also a good idea to examine your other platforms. Having the same username across all of your different social media channels makes it easier for your audience to find and connect with you. Using a tool like Namechekr will help you make sure that the name you want is available on multiple platforms.  

 2.     Consistency

The key to a successful YouTube channel is being consistent! To keep an active audience, you must be active as well. One way to stay consistent is to let your viewers know when you will be posting and to stick to that promise. It lets them know that you will be coming back regularly and are committed to your work. It also gives them something of yours to look forward to.

The frequency of your uploads depends on the type of channel you have. With a vlog, you would want to post more often to keep the audience in tune with your daily life. For most other channels, posting once a week is sufficient.

Whatever upload schedule you decide on, stick to it! Your audience will lose trust in you and your nonprofit or social enterprise if you make promises that you cannot keep. 

 

3.      Optimization

If you haven’t heard yet, YouTube is going through major algorithmic changes. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with, even for the current, popular creators. However, there are a couple of ways to stay ahead of the game.

Quality, quality, quality. No one wants to watch a blurry, difficult to see video. High resolution, high quality videos will attract more viewers. More viewers will, in turn, encourage people to like, share, and subscribe. And greater interaction will increase the ranking of your video and that is how more people will see it.  

Close behind video quality is content optimization. Telling YouTube what your videos are about will help them reach more people. The title, tags, and description will tell YouTube’s algorithm how to categorize your video and make it appear in the appropriate search results.

Find the right buzzwords that relate to your video. Use them in your title, tags, and description along with other relevant words that will attract a larger audience. Shorter descriptions tend to perform better. Not many people want to read an essay before watching a video.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the description under 180 characters without forgetting the most important information. With that being said, do not use fluff words. YouTube can detect “filler” tags and will shift your video ranking lower. Use words that are relevant to the context of your video, channel, and cause-focused organization as a whole. Always include your website, social media links, and other links you want your viewers to have handy.

 4.     Thumbnail, Title, and Trailer

The thumbnail and title are the first two viewed elements of your video. If they are not interesting enough, no one will click to watch more. YouTube is considered one of the largest search engines at the moment, so having a catchy title can increase your channel traffic tremendously.

Make sure your title is short, yet engaging and descriptive. One thing to note is that video titles are not permanent! You can play around with different keywords and title structures to see what works best for you.

One of the easiest ways to gain views is by having incredibly eye-catching thumbnails. YouTube will offer random screenshots for you to use as thumbnails, but it is a much better decision to create custom thumbnails. A great resource for that is Canva. Canva has many templates, including one specifically for YouTube thumbnails. This way you always get to control what people immediately see on your videos, rather than worrying about someone’s eyes being closed or mouth being open.

While you want to make your thumbnail interesting, avoid click-bait! Click-bait is using a provocative title or photo in order to get someone to click on it, only to find out the topic is not related to the content at all. Click-baiting is very deceiving and will make your current followers, and new viewers, lose trust in you.

Your video titles should be short, sweet, and clever but not to the point where they are difficult to understand. They should hint to the biggest point in the video without giving too much away.

Your channel trailer may be the first video your growing audience will see when they visit your channel. It’s a short clip that promotes your channel and hooks your audience into wanting to see more. The best trailers show the highlights of your page and display your businesses content in a fun way. Instead of sitting down and talking about your channel, show us!  

If possible, use clips from previous videos and compile them into your own little story reel. That is a creative way to explain what your channel is all about. Keep your trailer short and sweet, too. YouTube analytics predict that trailers under 40 seconds perform better than longer ones. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to make the viewer subscribe. If you were a new viewer, what is something you would be excited to see?

 

5.     Content

Content is the heart and soul of your channel. Ultimately, it’s what draws viewers in and keeps them coming back. Your channel is the perfect place to introduce your work or cause, share ideas, and promote upcoming launches. The most common and successful videos for small businesses and organizations are product explanations, customer testimonies, and tips.

It sounds daunting to create so much new content, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Repurposing video and content is more than welcome in the YouTube community. For example, if you are already producing a podcast, try taping it and posting that footage to your channel. People would love to see the mannerisms and facial expressions that go along with their favorite podcast.

Another way to repurpose content is by using footage from a previous event and adding to it. Show snippets of the event and add in your commentary so the viewer is engaged. Of course, the type of content you choose to post will depend on each organization, but a good rule to follow is to mix it up. Switching it up between sit-down videos and “in the field” type videos will keep your audience looking forward for your next upload.

 

6.     Be social, share, and collaborate

Popular videos are promoted more often by YouTube and that’s all thanks to engagement levels. More subscribers and more views will place your videos higher in search results. It’s a huge plus if someone subscribes to your channel right after watching one of your videos, according to YouTube.

The easiest and most organic way to generate growth is to ask for it! Share your channel and videos on your other social media channels and website, tell your friends and colleagues, and collaborate with other entrepreneurs and organizations. Using a Call To Action (CTA), is a great way to get the word out about your cause and YouTube is no different.

Each one of your videos should have a CTA at the end to further engage your audience and encourage them to take action. Tell viewers exactly what you want them to do whether that’s subscribing, liking, or sharing your video. 

Last but definitely not least—become a part of the YouTube community. Find channels that correlate with your organization, cause, or personal brand and engage with them! Even leaving a simple comment on another creator’s channel can connect you with the right person.  

Contributing to discussions will attract new viewers to your channel as well. Leaving thoughtful comments will grab the attention of passer-by and encourage them to check out your content. Avoid spamming others’ comment sections, however. That gives of an insincere vibe and will not yield great channel traffic results. 

 

Would you like to see this advice in action?

Here are four examples that showcase the tips above. The first two are nonprofits, and the latter are for-profit organizations.

The Task for Global Health has a wide variety of videos. Some explain who they are and what they do, and others are stories from communities they have served. And Dosomething.org caters to young people, so they have a more laid-back approach to their channel. The incorporate interviews, challenges, and some public service announcements into their content.

The Body Shop is a cause-oriented brand. They use their YouTube channel to show tutorials for their products and on occasion, have serious conversations. Finally, most of us know about Tom’s Shoes and what they stand for. Their videos range from completely creative content to their newest shoe to showing off their charity work. These four organizations can be great inspirations for your own channel.

Does your organization have a YouTube channel? If so, leave your link in the comments, and we’ll check it out!


 McKenzie Bethel

I’m McKenzie Bethel and I’m a fourth-year Economics Major at the Georgia State University with a minor in Journalism.

I have many hobbies but writing, filming, and creating content hold a special place in my heart. I hope to use economics to advocate for caused-focused organizations in the future.

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PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 It can be difficult to clearly convey what you are thinking and feeling through written text. While traditional social medias are great for starting, growing, and expanding your organization, sometimes the human to human connection can get lost in translation. Along with connecting to your audience, YouTube can be used as a great marketing tool.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Using Hashtags on Social Media: The How, When, and Why

Today’s post comes from my friend, Jennifer Wilder. Jen is a social media marketing pro, and a constant source of information and inspiration. She’s the first person I turn to when I have questions, and she even set me up on Smarterqueue last year, so that most of social media is automated.

Using hashtags is something I frequently talk to people about when they’re working on their social media strategy. Too many cause-focused organizations seem to leave them off completely, but they can be a great tool for helping new people find you. Otherwise, those already in your tribe will be the only ones to see your post . . . and still only a percentage of them. (Thanks, algorithms!)

So, do yourself a favor and read up on why hashtags should be a part of your social media strategy. This post is #allthethings when it comes to using hashtags, so be sure to bookmark it for referencing again later!

 Using Hashtags on Social Media: The How, When, and Why

Are hashtags a part of your social media strategy? Do you even know what a hashtag is? Hashtags are a means of finding conversations in social media around desired topics. They are keywords preceded by the hash (#) or pound mark. Within social media platforms, hashtags are clickable, so that you can find all posts that include the hashtag on which you clicked. 

These small indicators within your social posts can start conversations, attract customers or donors, and change public sentiment. Are they powerful tools? When used strategically, you better believe it.

 

The Power of Hashtags

We’ve all seen that picture of someone holding up a coffee cup in front of a clear blue sky accompanied by hashtags like: #love #coffee or even #instagram. How effective do you think those hashtags are in helping someone get discovered on social media? Here’s a hint: not at all. But there are hashtags that could be used with that picture that would drive engagement and possibly attract customers or donors

When we think of hashtag strategy, we most commonly think of Twitter and Instagram. Recently, though, LinkedIn increased their promotion of hashtag use on their platform by allowing users to search and follow hashtags through a feature called “Your Communities.” In addition, you can pin hashtags so that posts within that topic appear first in your LinkedIn feed. When searching hashtags, there is also a new discover feature that shows how many people are following that hashtag, as well as various features to dive deeper into insights surrounding searched hashtags.  

Another platform that is now embracing and promoting hashtag use is Pinterest, where up to 20 hashtags are allowed per pin.

Though the capability for using hashtags exists on Facebook, they are not recommended unless you are posting from an event with only the event hashtag so that the event organizers can find you and possibly reuse your post—taking into consideration that you must change your privacy settings to public for those specific posts.

The space in your social media posts is precious, so let’s use that space to find customers and donors. Here’s what you need to know about hashtags to enhance your posts, as well as search out potential supporters.

 How to Find Hashtags for Your Business

  • Create a list of keywords (or common words) associated with your organization and mission—these are the things that you want to be known for. Some examples include nonprofit, social enterprise, modern slavery, homelessness, or social impact. It’s likely those keywords are already being used as hashtags, so give them a search on Twitter or Instagram. You’ll want to scroll through each hashtag to determine if the conversation around each keyword is a conversation you want to enter.

  • Hashtags should not include spaces or punctuation. If you wish, you can camel capitalize—capitalizing the first letter of each word—a hashtag for easier reading, like this: #ThisIsCamelCaps

  • As you search keywords as hashtags, look to see what other hashtags people are using. Perhaps some of the keywords they’re using would better resonate with your potential customers, or should also be used by your organization.

  • Search for other people or other organizations that are like yours, in your industry, or that are the type of organization you want to become. Read through their social posts to find hashtags not already on your list.

  • Once you have a large list of hashtags, you’ll want to know a little bit about each. Search each hashtag on the respective platform noting how many posts are using that hashtag, and noting the types of images that are most popular. You will also want to pay attention to context. Does the hashtag mean what you think it means on the Internet? It might not.

  • When using hashtags for Instagram, be sure to use a variety of counts. Meaning, use a few hashtags that have 250,000 to 350,000 posts; use a few that have 100,000 to 250,000; use a few that have 50,000 to 100,000, and a few that are less than 50,000.

  • Broad subject keywords with 350,000+ posts are not going to get you seen by potential customers or donors. With that number of posts on a hashtag, the posts are coming so fast that your post will constantly be pushed down the feed, getting very little eyeballs on it. That’s why it’s best to use a variety of post counts on each hashtag, not using those over about 350,000. An example would be #event, which is extremely general and won’t help you gain any traction.

  • If you have a storefront, or if you are serving a particular region of the country, then you want to be sure to include hashtags that are location specific.

  • If you want to work with or get noticed by particular brands or organizations, use their personal hashtags. Many times organizations create their own that they use often within their social media, which you can likely find by viewing their Twitter or Instagram accounts. Since hashtags can’t be owned or sponsored by any company, you are free to use their hashtags to get their attention, or to align yourself with their message. Use this tactic mindfully—hitting their hashtag too often with irrelevant content is off-putting. A popular example of this is #EndItMovement, which is used by not only the End It Movement itself, but partners and people who are trying to raise the awareness of modern-day slavery.

  • If you choose to use the maximum number of hashtags allowed on Instagram—which is 30!—sprinkle in a few hashtags that are funny, or that share additional funny commentary about the image you’re posting. Going back to the picture of the coffee cup that I referenced, you could add the hashtag, #NeedISayMore, to show off your brand’s personality.

  • Using all 30 hashtags on Instagram may seem excessive if this is a new process to you, but you’re already doing the work of posting, so why not use the opportunity to be seen by more people?

  • Once you have a list of hashtags you want to use, you can rotate through them with each post. If you prefer, you could create a different, or customized, batch of hashtags for each day of the week that you’re posting. Use the notes feature on your smartphone to keep track of your hashtag list. Then copy/paste into the first comment on Instagram.

 How to Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Posts 

On Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, it’s more acceptable to use hashtags within the body of the post more so than it is on Instagram.

Just be sure to pay attention to hashtag limits on each platform.

  • For Instagram, 30 hashtags can be used for posts appearing in your feed.

  • For Twitter, there’s only a limit to how many characters you can tweet, which is now 280. However, a maximum of three hashtags is recommended, and can be used in the body of the copy or added to the end of the copy.

  • For Pinterest, 20 hashtags are allowed for each pin, though 10 is considered optimal. Frequent users of Pinterest use three to five per post.

  • For LinkedIn, there is no limit to the number of hashtags that can be used, but pay attention to relevance and aesthetic. You don’t want to make your reader weary with a large amount of hashtags. And please note: While editing articles is allowed on LinkedIn, editing or removing hashtags within a published article is not allowed.

    For Instagram Stories, there is a hashtag sticker that will accommodate one hashtag. Additional hashtags can be added as a text block. You can then reduce that text block down by pinching together your fingers until it is barely seen. Or you can color the block of hashtag copy as the same color as your background using the eyedropper tool in the bottom left while within the editing block of the hashtag copy. Or, you can reduce the hashtag block and hide it behind a block of copy that you do want people to read. This would be done so that the hashtags don’t distract from the photo, video, or other content you’re highlighting in the Story.

Additionally, it’s common practice on Instagram to add hashtags in the first comment. The reason many people do this is to keep their captions looking neat and tidy. Another option is to use one dot on a line for five lines in order to push the hashtags down, either far away from the caption if they add them there, or to push them down from being seen in the first comment.

This can make for a cleaner, neater post on Instagram. However, if you’re going to use the one-dot-per-line method of paragraph breaks on Instagram, you can create your post content in the notes feature on your smartphone, and then copy/paste to Instagram since there isn’t a paragraph break button on that platform, or hit the period key and then enter repeatedly to manually create breaks.

When using an event hashtag on Facebook, be sure your posts are set to “public” so that event organizers can view your posts and possibly reuse them on their brand’s social accounts.

 

How to Use Hashtags to Create Connections and Find Potential Customers and Donors

From your master list of hashtags, choose one to search and scroll through. As you find posts and images that interest you, leave a genuine comment on that post—preferably 8-10 words.

Be sure your comment adds value to the post. This means you shouldn’t just drop a heart emoji or say “Nice job!” It’s unlikely anyone will check out your account or interact much with you without any effort on your part. And for bonus points, ask a question in order to start a conversation.

Because Pinterest is a discovery/search engine (they do not consider themselves a social platform), engagement on pins is not weighted the same way as it is on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Meaning, it’s unlikely to produce a lot of results. Pinterest isn’t a place you go to in order to interact with people and have conversations.

Next, if you find a post within a hashtag search that is getting good engagement with many comments, dig deeper into who is leaving those comments. Click the username of the person or business leaving the comment, go to their account, find a picture within the last three or four posted to their account and leave them a genuine comment.

Likewise, you can go to the account of a similar organization to your own, find a recent post with good engagement (multiple comments), and click through to the accounts of people leaving comments on their post. Then, leave a genuine comment on one of their recent posts.

What you’re doing in all of these instances is connecting with people, nonprofits, and social enterprises who have liked something similar to your own business—so why wouldn’t they want to follow you too and eventually buy from you?

Helpful Tools

If you’re still struggling to come up with the right hashtags for your brand, or simply need more options, check out Hashtagify.me. This site allows you to type in a keyword search term, and give you related options that people are already using.

Additionally, if you’re looking to add some oomph to your Instagram strategy, I recommend PeopleMap, which lets you track influencers, create lists, evaluate campaign engagement, and more.

Finally, posting on Instagram can definitely eat away at the time in your day. If that’s an issue for you, consider trying out a social media scheduler like Hootsuite, Later, Planoly, Smarterqueue, or any number of other options.



For what some may think of as a throw-away or a random portion of a social media post, the hashtag can be quite powerful when content creators take the time to be intentional and strategic.  

Now that you have this power, what good are you going to do with it?

Jennifer Wilder is one smart cookie. If you like this post, you might like one of the previous guest posts she’s written for Signify:


 Jennifer Wilder

Jennifer Wilder is a social media professional who helps brands reach customers through online conversations. Over the last decade, she has worked with LifeWay Christian Resources, Leading The Way, The reThink Group/Orange, and The John Maxwell Company. Jen and her husband Nathan live in Kennesaw, Georgia, with their soon-to-be-Instagram-famous Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Copper.

Jennifer is available for freelance social media consulting and voiceover work.


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 These small indicators within your social posts can start conversations, attract customers or donors, and change public sentiment. Are they powerful tools? When used strategically, you better believe it.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


5 Essentials You Should Be Communicating to Your Donors


Today’s guest post comes from Amy Crowell, a fundraising pro if there ever was one! Her company, Next Stage Advisors, helps nonprofits through event consulting, board development, grant writing, and more.

Amy and I go way back to the days of when I was at a hospitality PR firm and she was at a little ol’ org called Share Our Strength. Yep, that one. During her time there, she raised more than $3 million dollars for their No Kid Hungry campaign, so she definitely knows her stuff.

Below, she’s boiled down donor communications to a few, main points that you should be aware of. If you’re strapped for time and resources when it comes to talking to your donors, make sure you at least cover these five bases.

PS: These same ideas work for social enterprises, too!

 5 Essentials You Should Be Communicating to Your Donors

Nonprofits, no matter their mission or size, are always on the lookout for more donors. But some organizations aren't event sure how to start the process of engaging new people into their mission, never mind actually turning them into donors.

Donors come in all shapes and sizes. Your donor may be someone who writes a small or large check, but they could also be a volunteer, committee member, special event attendee, board member, or a donor of products or services that your organization needs.

No matter what type of donor you are talking to, nonprofits need to consistently communicate with donors, while at the same time targeting the specific message that prompted the donor to initially become engaged. Keeping everyone informed may very well graduate them from one level of supporter to another. Use these “5 Essential Tips” to expand your reach and add additional people to your potential donor pipeline.


Essential 1: Who or What You Help

This is a no brainer, right? Of course you are going to tell your potential donors who or what you help. However, it’s more than that. Yes, donors need to be told specifically who you are helping, but they should also be informed of the numerical statistics for the problem in your community you are helping.

Specific and detailed information about the problem you are working towards solving will show that your nonprofit is one that needs to be supported. For example, if a local organization tells you that the teen pregnancy in your state was triple the national average and then explained how they were helping to solve that problem, a donor would be much more likely to support them than if they were merely told that they help cut the teen pregnancy rate.

Tell your donors the specifics, such as:

  • How many people in your community deal with the issue that your nonprofit is trying to solve? Is it increasing or decreasing? How quickly?

  • What progress have you made so far?

  • What innovative methods are you using to fulfill your mission (especially if they are more successful compared to similar organizations in your community)?

  • When you accomplish things that work toward your mission, what changes?

  • How is your community a better place because of your organization, its mission, and successes?

Essential 2: Real Stories About How Your Organization Has Made a Difference

Showing your passion can go a long way to creating a new donor. Most donors give to an organization because they feel an emotional connection. Help potential donors feel this connection by telling them true stories about the work you are doing. Share success stories about people you have served.

Do you have video testimonies from parents or principals that have firsthand knowledge of how your program changed a child? Stories about how your organization extended the life someone, allowing them to attend a major life event of their child or grandchild? Examples of how someone you helped felt less stigma about a problem they had, which helped them to build their self-esteem and have a more “normal” life? Or perhaps you can take them on a tour of your facility to show your organization at work.

If you are looking for new donors, you should have a set of emotionally-driven stories that demonstrate your work in action and the benefits to those you serve.


Essential 3: Why Your Organization is Different

Many organizations look similar on paper—potentially serving the same type of person, geographical area, or otherwise. It’s important to differentiate yourself from others that may appear similar. Why would I give my money to you when XYZ nonprofit down the road does the same thing?

Donors want to know what your organization does that makes you different and worth investing in. Do you tackle the same problem in a new way? Does your program go a step further in that it follows people for six months after they leave, ensuring they continue their path to success? Are you the only organization serving X in this zip code? Do you address something that other similar organizations don’t? Perhaps your organization has more of a “teach a person to fish” versus a “give them a fish” philosophy? Tell your donors!

Essential 4: What Their Donation Can Accomplish

Whatever donors are giving—time, money, services, or products—they want to know how it is helping your nonprfoti fulfill its mission. Even though every organization needs non-restricted funds to pay for expenses like rent, utilities, and supplies, most donors would prefer that their donation be connected more directly to the mission they are supporting.

This is where equivalencies come in. Being able to tell donors that $1 connects a child to 10 healthy meals, $500 pays for a month of diapers for a previously homeless child, or something similar, goes a long way to help visualize what a donation can accomplish and how it helps those you serve.

These equivalencies can be used in multiple places, including online donations, special events (ex: live or silent auction, fund the need campaigns), or challenge/matching grants. Being able to show specifically what dollars can provide is important and will bring more donors to the check writing stage.


Essential 5: Share Your Organizational Goals

No different than deciding which mutual fund you want to invest your retirement savings in, donors want to see long-term goals and a healthy organization working toward them. They want to see an ROI on their investment, such as increased growth towards the overall mission.

Share with donors where you want your nonprofit to be and when. Do you want to reach 85% of your target market by the year 2020? Increase the hours you are open by 10% this year? Hire a new staff member?

Talk about both short- and long-term goals so that donors feel like they are part of your progress and that their money is actually an investment not only in your organization, but to the people or problem you are trying to help. Communicating a high-level vision and what it takes financially to get there will make donors more invested overall, potentially moving them from a one-time donor to a reoccurring one.

These “5 Essentials” can go a long way towards building a pipeline of supporters that can help you not only have increased donations, but also fill other important roles your nonprofit needs such as board members, volunteers, special event attendees, and more.

Be sure each essential is documented so you can share them with all the key stakeholders in your organization—especially staff and board members. Once you have them, you’ll likely find that not only are they helpful when speaking to supporters, they can also be used in other communications such as your website, newsletter, grant applications, and more.

Don’t have all five in place? Add the missing pieces to your priority list to increase success in the future.


 Amy Crowell, Next Stage Advantage

Amy Crowell, founder of Next Stage Advisors, has more than two decades of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, event management, and strategic and financial planning. She has overseen numerous nonprofit fundraisers, including grassroots campaigns, events of all sizes, and national multimillion-dollar corporate-sponsored programs.

Amy helps nonprofits meet and beat their fundraising goals via event consulting, board development, grant writing, and more.

Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

 Use these “5 Essential Tips” to expand your nonprofit’s reach and add additional people to your potential donor pipeline.

 Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.