donor experience

How to Make Your Nonprofit Stand Out Online

Nonprofit friends - If you’ve been wondering how to attract more donors, today’s post will give you a whole new perspective. Right now, you’re out there trying to find new donors in all the nooks and crannies of the internet, at networking events, and in any other place a they might sit still for 10 minutes.

But what if prospective donors could find you instead?

It may sound like a dream, but Madeline Kardos of Candid is going to show you where these elusive donors are already looking for new nonprofits to support, and how you can stand out online in their eyes. This is such great information, and with a little bit of elbow grease upfront, you can show off your good side no matter where people are searching for causes they care about.

How To Make Your Nonprofit Stand Out Online

Your nonprofit has a well-maintained Facebook page and maybe even an Instagram account. You’re probably thinking, my nonprofit looks awesome online, right?

Well, not exactly . . . Although your social media accounts are important pieces of your organization’s online presence, you need to check out other places to make sure your nonprofit looks positively brilliant on the Internet.  

WHY IT MATTERS

Donors want to know that the charities they give to are legitimate organizations. They also want to know how nonprofits use their donations. More and more, donors are turning to sites such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Network for Good to gain information on nonprofits before giving.

For years, millions—that’s right, millions—of people have used GuideStar to research their giving. Today a service of Candid (GuideStar and Foundation Center joined forces in February 2019 to create a new organization called Candid), GuideStar amplifies your nonprofit’s online presence. If your organization is registered with the IRS as tax exempt, you’re already in the GuideStar database. (If you aren’t registered with the IRS, check into getting listed.)

Plus, if your organization is on GuideStar, it’s also on more than 200 charitable giving websites and applications—such as AmazonSmile, Facebook Fundraisers, Network for Good, and all major U.S. donor-advised funds. All of these sites are powered by GuideStar data.

But what do people see when they view your Nonprofit Profile, either on GuideStar or on our partner sites? If you haven’t updated your profile, the information in it will only be from your IRS records. You can, however, gain access to your profile and update the information.

Updating is free. It lets you show that your organization is more than an IRS designation (public charity, private foundation, etc.) or financial ratios. Updating lets you talk about your mission and programs in donor-friendly ways, keep the list of your board and leadership up to date, discuss your goals and strategies, and share contact information.

And when you update on GuideStar, you simultaneously update your information on our 200+ partner sites, all in one go.

Here’s a quick example. I once assisted a man who had spent six months correcting his organization’s address on 80 different websites. Unfortunately for him, GuideStar was his last stop. If he had come to GuideStar six months sooner, all 80 (and more!) of those websites would have been updated much, much faster. Plus, he would have corrected his address on popular crowdfunding sites like Facebook Fundraisers, so if he received a check it would be sent to the right place. 

Enough talk, right? Let’s get down to what you can do NOW to make your nonprofit stand out online.

3 STEPS TO STANDING OUT

1.  Gain Access to Your Nonprofit Profile

Start by becoming a manager for your organization’s profile. For security purposes, we approve who receives access to each profile. Get started with this step-by-step guide.

Please note, we strongly recommend that you create an account on GuideStar using an email address associated with your organization. This proves to us that you’re connected to your organization in the easiest fashion. For example, if I wanted to gain access to Candid’s profile I would use my candid.org email instead of my Gmail address.

Claim Your Profile

 

2.  Earn a GuideStar Seal of Transparency

As you update, you’ll receive one of our Seals of Transparency. The Seals are based on the information that funders and donors need to make informed giving decisions.

There are four Seals:

  • Bronze provides basic information (i.e., primary contacts, program descriptions, etc.)

  • Silver shows your basic finances

  • Gold explains your long-term goals

  • Platinum illustrates the progress that you’ve made year to year

The amount of information you add to your profile determines which Seal you receive. Once you earn a Seal, you can post it on your website and include it in your marketing materials to demonstrate your commitment to transparency.

Unsure where to start? We have resources for you! Check out what’s needed to earn a Seal of Transparency for your nonprofit. Even better, if you want to draft your responses before adding them to your profile, here’s a profile template you can share with peers or pass along to your executive director.  

Learn More

3.  Share Your Good Work

After you update your profile, let the world know! The more you promote your profile, the more recognition it will receive. Once you earn a Seal of Transparency, you have the ability to share an image of the Seal on your website or in print publications. Plus, we have sample social media posts and press releases for you to use!  

 

IN CONCLUSION

Once you’ve updated your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar, your organization will look radiant on not only on Facebook and Instagram, but also on 200+ charitable websites and applications. Updating your profile is a major step forward in creating a positive online presence for your nonprofit and will help potential donors and funders learn more about your organization.

Although we’ve reached the end of this blog post, it’s not where we part ways. You can always reach out to us for help while gaining access to or updating your profile by visiting help.guidestar.org. We hope to hear from you soon!


Madeline Kardos, Candid.org

Madeline Kardos is the marketing and communications associate for Candid. She writes all kinds of content and leads trainings to teach nonprofits how to update their Nonprofit Profiles on GuideStar.

Before joining the nonprofit world, Madeline started in content marketing, writing for companies in San Francisco, CA.

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Make sure prospective donors can find you! Learn about where they’re looking online for nonprofits to support, and how your organization can stand out.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


How to Communicate with Year-End Donors in the New Year

Whew—you made it! It was a crazy, busy season, but you crossed the threshold into the New Year. Congratulations!

So, once you’ve wrapped up your year-end giving, you can sit back and relax come January, right? Welllll, not quite. I realize you could probably already use a vacation, but one of your best bets for building momentum and donor retention in the first quarter is to build on your efforts in the last one.

And while I sincerely hope that your nonprofit reached or surpassed your end of year giving goals, these strategies can be implemented even if you didn’t. Either way, they’ll set you up for better months ahead.

How to Communicate with Year-End Donors in the New Year

Make Good on Your Promises

First of all, it’s incredibly important to make good on any promises from last year. Leftovers tend to start stinking, am I right?

This could include reports, updates, or any other documentation that you owe your donor base. For example, I’ve seen annual gala sponsorship levels that include quarterly reports to major sponsors and donors. If you’ve got something like that on your plate, take action now before another, “more important” task comes along.

And if you didn’t release an annual report as part of your year-end fundraising campaign, this can be another great tool to start the New Year. Show off the impact your work is having, while highlighting opportunities for growth and engagement.

Keeping and fulfilling any promises you made to donors, sponsors, and partners is just one more way you can prove that you’re trustworthy, responsible, and deserving of their time and investment.

(Tip: If at all possible, never let them have to ask you for this information. That looks bad. Do everything you can to put the information or resources in their hands first. If there’s going to be a delay, communicate that so they don’t have to wonder or, worse, think you forgot.)

Send Those Shout Out’s, High Five’s, and Horray’s

Don’t forget to celebrate those victories! As someone who can easily dismiss an achievement, especially a small one, and move on to the next thing, I encourage you to take the win every time.

Better yet—share it with your fan base! If you met your fundraising goal and are now able to provide more products and/or services to those who benefit from your work, let everyone know! Send out an email blast, post it on social media, host a Facebook Live, release carrier pigeons, shout it from the rooftops, or do whatever you need to do to let your fans and followers know they played a part in getting you there.

This is your chance to say, “We did it!” And when you tell them exactly how those funds will be used, you not only instill a sense of pride in your contributors, but you’ll subconsciously encourage them to give again!

But let’s say you didn’t meet you goals. What then? Well, don’t take that as your cue to forego any updates. You still need to do that, but you’ll obviously need to tailor the message. You can send out a thank you, and tell people what’s on the horizon. Remind them of what’s at stake, and how you plan on serving people this year. Get them excited for the future, and state how they can be a part of your incredible work.

Keeping your fans in the loop is one sure-fire step toward donor retention. When people don’t know how their money is used, don’t know who is being served, and don’t know what’s going on, they are far more likely to take their hard-earned money to someone who can check those boxes for them. So, stay in touch!

(Tip: If you’ve been lax on your marketing and communication in the past, use these kinds of updates to get you back on track in the New Year. Update, rinse, and repeat. Make it a habit you’ll keep going forward. And if you’re not sure what to send them, I’ve got a few ideas.)

Pencil In Your VIPs

Always strike while the iron is hot, as they say, but particularly when it comes to your largest contributors. Take a look back at the previous year (or years), and identify who gave the most, either in dollars or in-kind. Then, get these people on your calendar.

If they’re local, take them to coffee or lunch. If they’re not, opt for a phone call, or even better, a video chat where you can look them in the eye. But make these interactions personal on some level, and don’t just lump them in to a mass email.

Use the opportunities to say thank you, and let them know what’s been going on, especially if it’s been a while. Ask for their input, or get them involved in a deeper level with your organization. If they gave a substantial amount, it’s likely they are very moved by your mission and would be thrilled to hear how they can further meet your needs.

(Tip 1: Don’t leave the conversation without what we in the marketing biz refer to as a call to action. This just means you’ll be asking them to do something. It could be very simple or a bigger ask, depending on the relationship, conversation, or needs. Examples could include setting up a follow up appointment, making an introduction, becoming a larger donor, or a spot on the board. The point is to make the most of the interaction.)

(Tip 2: Create reminders to follow up with these people throughout the year. Whether you’re just personally emailing to say hello or sending them some sort of update, check in with them at least once a quarter to let them know your nonprofit values their relationship. This will also take some of the stress and pressure off of having to squeeze everyone in at the end of the year—bonus!)

How will you communicate with year-end donors in the New Year?



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

One of your best bets for building momentum and donor retention in the first quarter is to build on your efforts in the last one.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


Voice Can Make All the Difference

The TV murmured along in the background as I cleaned house until I heard what I thought was the voice of a child speaking about farm-to-table concepts that seemed much older than the age I perceived coming through the TV speakers. It seemed odd. I was thrown off, and completely missed the message from the advertising restaurant.

When I saw the commercial later, I was still too distracted because of the disconnect between the voice and the message to know what the company was trying to tell me, the consumer.

In an age when video is moving to dominate media consumption—not only TV and streaming services, but across social media channels and websites—the right voice to explain, to inform, to appeal, to sell, and to inspire makes a difference in whether someone donates or buys, or whether someone passes you by.

Likewise audio prompts within your organization’s phone systems, in your office environments, and in radio advertising can make a difference in how a consumer or donor experiences what you have to offer . . . or doesn’t.

In an age when video is moving to dominate media consumption—not only TV and streaming services, but across social media channels—the right voice to explain, to inform, to appeal, to sell, and to inspire makes a difference in whether someone buys, or whether someone passes you by.

Recently, as I boarded an elevator from a parking garage to a major metropolitan arts facility, I heard the burdened and disdainful voice of a man “welcome” me, and routinely utter the names of the sophisticated, creative, and lively venues within this arts complex. It was quite a juxtaposition. There I was about to experience an electric, creative atmosphere, and the voice welcoming me sounded as though he was bored, sad, and depressed.

Whether realized or not by this company’s elevator occupants, his voice is creating an atmosphere for this facility—a downcast and disheartening atmosphere.

In truth, the voice you use to embody your organization's in video and audio representations is important. But what do you look for? How do you find a quality voice for your message? Here are four ideas to get you started:

1)   Audience

You’ve heard it before, “Know your audience.” As a business leader, you likely have already created an avatar, or profile, of your ideal customer. With this ideal man and/or woman in mind, write a script that sounds natural, conveys a clear message, and includes an action step. And once you have a decent draft, read it out loud to yourself. Are there any clunky words or phrases? Or are there any back-to-back sounds that are awkward? Revise the script until you have something that seems natural.

2)   Delivery

Depending on your audience, and the message of your script, you’ll want to think about delivery. Would you like it to sound warm and comforting, or are you looking for conversational, yet energetic? Think about the feelings you want to convey with this message. And think about those feelings in relationship to the wording and the message. Do they match? For example, in the elevator, the gentleman delivered the word welcome as if he were sad, when it should’ve sounded warm and friendly . . . in other words, the word welcome should’ve sounded welcoming. If you’re trying to convey an urgent message, one that you’d like customers to act on quickly, you don’t want a warm and welcoming delivery, but an energetic, lively, yet friendly delivery.

3)   Tone

More often than not, we can grasp an age range from someone based on the tone of his or her voice. A voice talent’s tone needs to match and be identifiable with the audience you’re trying to reach. In the farm-to-table restaurant commercial mentioned previously, the voice sounded like an early teen. Yet, the message of the commercial was focused on consciousness in food preparation, something few teenagers seem to be concerned with. A disconnect between the tone, the target audience, and the message won’t compel anyone to take action.

4)   Hire

It’s often easier to grab the admin assistant with the great phone voice, or the singing maintenance man for a quick “read through” of your outgoing message, but resist the urge. It’s not enough to have a nice voice. A quality voice talent must be able to tap into the audience your trying to reach with the feelings you want to convey, so that anyone who hears it will want to take action.

Your message is too important for it to sound like it’s being read from a handwritten notebook. With intentional script writing and the right voice, you’ll move beyond your customer or donor’s heads and into their hearts.


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: 

In an age when video is moving to dominate media consumption—not only TV and streaming services, but across  social media  channels and websites—the right voice to explain, to inform, to appeal, to sell, and to inspire makes a difference in whether someone donates or buys, or whether someone passes you by.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours 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.