How Non-profits Can Expand Their Sphere of Influence Online – Part One

Creating an effective presence on the web requires strategy.   Each piece of your organization’s online persona works together like a well-oiled machine to create buzz, build a strong following, inspire volunteers, and drive donations.

Pieces of the Online Puzzle

Expanding your non-profit’s influence will not only take strategy, it will take some time as well.  Think of building your entire web and social presence as building a house.  You will need a strong foundation, solid materials for construction, and effective tools to manage, update, and make improvements to your online existence to achieve maximum value and effectiveness.

Start with a Search and Social Friendly Website Platform

It’s basically a no-brainer that your website needs to have a clean design, great graphics, ease of navigation, social media badges  and share widgets.  A great choice for non-profits in this regard would be Word Press.  This popular platform has free themes to choose from, is extremely SEO friendly, is as easy to use as Microsoft Word, and is a blogging powerhouse.  Word Press boasts over 10,000 plugins to help enhance website performance, take donations, and improve SEO, among a thousand other things.  Some of the ones we like best for non-profits is Our Progress (measures donations), PayPal Donations (to accept financial support), and Digg Digg (as a social media sharing tool).  Be sure to include an attractive opt-in pop-up or sidebar to build your email list, which is worth its weight in gold.

It’s All About the Blog

Organizations that blog get 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages ( than ones that don’t blog.  Blogging also creates engagement with your audience through comments, sharing the blog through social media, and creating conversations that spark action.  Ideal posting guidelines suggest blogging at least twice per week.  Always email your donor and distribution list each time you write a new blog, and post to all your social media pages.  Create an editorial schedule that organizes the best ideas beforehand, to streamline your blogging and keep your messages focused.  Guest blogging on another non-profit’s site will also give you a larger platform to get the word out about your organization.

Email Campaigns that Hit the Mark(eting)

Building an engaged audience through email starts with your existing donor base and is expanded through outreach by blogging and effective social media engagement.  Using a CRM to manage your email database is vital to keep it current and weed out inactive donors, volunteers, and activists.  Sophisticated and affordable email marketing tools such as MailChimp can create beautifully designed, brand consistent, technically adept and most importantly, measurable campaigns that gauge open rates, clicks, and shares.  You can integrate your CRM with tools like MailChimp through their API (application programming interface) to seamlessly manage and measure your campaigns to see where your emails are performing successfully, and what needs tweaking.