13 Ways to Improve Nonprofit Communications
All good relationships are built around ongoing conversation. Nonprofits are in a long-term relationship with their supporters and need to be engaged in constant conversation.
Successful nonprofit communications are built around listening to supporters, reflecting on what is being conveyed, and speaking to them in an engaging way that elevates the conversation and improves the relationship. Here are 13 ways to improve nonprofit communications.
1) Your first audience is inside your organization. Why does your board care about this organization? Chances are they each sit on other boards and support other charities in addition to yours. Listen to your board's stories and record them talking about what your organization means to them. This is great content to share with all your supporters, from employees to donors.
2) Do you hear the sound of e-mails coming in from volunteers signing up to help you? Do you hear the sound of donations landing in your campaign fund? If not, your volunteers and your donors are telling you something. Volunteer sign-up forms should be easy to use! The volunteer should know the next steps for helping out your charity after submitting her information. Make your sign-up forms intuitive. Make donations quick and painless. Have a PayPal link, or another payment processing link, nested at the top of your website. Put a call to action on your Facebook page. If a supporter has to search for a way to give you a donation, chances are you're going to lose that donation,
3) Actions speak louder than words. Are you seeing the level of engagement that you expect to see on your website? Check your analytics setup. You should have Google Analytics UA-# and a Facebook Pixel on your site. What are your site metrics telling you about what your supporters are interested in? What content do you provide that is particularly compelling? If most visitors spend 10 minutes on one or two pages of your site, what can you replicate from those pages elsewhere on your website?
4) What kind of personality does your organization have? In our experience, there are only two types of organizations -- the pizza shop and the fine French restaurant. A pizza shop is noisy and hot. There is flour flying around and people shouting over the counter from the kitchen for all the customers to hear. The French restaurant is refined and quiet in the dining room. The lights are dim and the diners have no idea what goes on in the kitchen. The meal comes out looking ready for a photo shoot. Both are perfectly acceptable types of personalities, but you have to know which type of personality you want your organization to have. Which way to do you lean? Do show your supporters how hard you're working with all the time and money they give you or do you make the work you do look effortless and refined?
5) What are you doing this year as an organization? Put yourself in your supporter's shoes. They have to plan out work schedules, family time, school commitments, pet birthday parties, all kinds of stuff. Have a calendar of events for your nonprofit and dedicated landing pages for key events and milestones throughout the year. See point number 2 above. Make it easy for your supporters to commit to you!
6) How can you build more trust with your supporters? People want to know that their favorite charity is using funds in an impactful way. Prominently link to your 990's or Guidestar.org profile at the top of your page.
7) Does your nonprofit communication strategy make sense? Grab a piece of paper out of the nearest printer and a pen. Can you write out what the expected outcomes of your strategy? Can you draw a map of how your communication efforts help you realize your communications strategy?
8) Where do you get the most engagement? How about the best engagement? Different groups of supporters prefer different media channels. Reflect on the social media channels that you use and those that your supporters use. Are you in sync with one another? Consider polling your supporters to learn more about them.
9) What are other charities like yours doing? Google some competing charities (go ahead, it's ok). What are they doing that you're not? What do they offer that you don't? How do your missions overlap and diverge from one another?
10) Create shareable content that reflects your mission. Think of the content that you produce as the checklist for how your supporters talk about your mission. Checklists save lives. Checklists save organizations too. Does your content tell your story?
11) Get others to speak for you. The era of no click search is here. People that find your charity through a Google search are less and less likely to click through to your website. Update your Google My Business listing and ask your supporters to give an honest testimonial about your organization.
12) Go behind the scenes. What does a day in your office look like? How much work goes into prepping for a big event? Marketing is for people. Make your story about people.
13) Blog. Blogging can help you attract an audience, establish authority, build rapport and engagement, create opportunities, organize your thoughts and learn, and meet new people. It is a great storytelling practice