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Social media marketing is a relatively new thing, but before that, NFPs had to rely on Public Relations (PR) to get the word out about their mission and latest fundraising efforts. But, PR still has a place in the nonprofit world, so let’s address some great ways to give your organisation a PR boost.

Develop relationships with journalists and reporters

If you have good relationships with journalists and those responsible for getting your story out there, then you have more chances of being successful. Know the media outlets and make sure you reach out to the right individual, depending on your PR requirements. Make sure you also supply lots of high-quality photographs to capture their interest.

Keep up with current trends

Try to connect your stories with the latest trend topics or times of the year. If you are doing something special at Christmas time, then you can promote that in December. If you are joining forces with something that is happening locally to support a wider issue, then let the outlets know. Stay current with what is going on in social media, on television and in the newspaper. That way you have more chance of being successful with your pitch.

Let your supporters speak

Your PR efforts don’t have to be concentrated from just your organisation. Your supporters can also be central to your press releases, and you can write them in conjunction with them and distribute them in the same way. Think about what your supporters can offer in the way of a good narrative and then see if they would be of assistance in helping you get extra publicity.

Demonstrate your results

Use the media for more than just opportunities to promote your latest fundraiser. Come up with some great stories – from your point of view or from someone who was assisted by your charity. People love to read stories of hope, particularly with a strong human interest element. It makes it real and will resonate with potential volunteers and donors.

Show your particular expertise

Depending on how well your relationships are with individual reporters and journalists, get them to consider you every time an article is required on your particular niche. You can provide quick quotes on health or women’s issues, or whatever your mainstay focus is. This will make sure you are always seen as an expert in your industry rather than just an NFP trying to raise money.

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Nearly every profession has its own mythology, or urban legends, that develop around it and its operations. While a few of these notions may work to bolster the reputation of a certain occupation, some false beliefs can cause others to shy away from a given field, and prevent those who work in it from getting the credit and recognition that they deserve.

The following list reveals the truth about some of the most popular fallacies surrounding the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofit Work is Easy; it’s the Perfect Career if You Can’t Get a “Real” Job

During the recent global economic downturn, a lot of individuals turned to the nonprofit sector to volunteer their time and efforts while they were awaiting an opportunity to return to employment at a for-profit company. While volunteering is a great way to network and keep your skills sharp, the sector is still a demanding one that benefits from the skills and experiences that top talent can bring to their organisations.

While many people who work in the nonprofit sector do so for altruistic and philanthropic reasons, this does not mean that the pace is not a busy and demanding one, or that everyone that works for a nonprofit does so for free. Most NFPs are facing a host of unique challenges and demands, and the work that needs to get done is often demanding, and schedules and deadlines can be inflexible and stressful.

While some NFPs operate on a shoestring budget, a growing number of nonprofit boards and directors are becoming more aware of the need to recruit and retain the very best people for their NFPs. Many are offering salaries to match the roles and responsibilities that come along with a nonprofit career, and that are comparable to the salary and demands of a similar position in the for-profit world.

All Not-for-Profits Do Basically the Same Thing, and They Don’t Make Any Money

Nonprofits provide a host of services to their communities and the world at large.  The work that is involved in providing these services is as varied as the number and types of charities and associations that exist.

Because of their tax status, many people automatically assume that not-for-profits are banned from earning revenue, when this is simply not the case. All NFPs rely on income generated from at least one source. Examples of types of income that can flow into nonprofits include endowments and grants, donations, fees for services, rents, royalties and interest payments, just to name a few. Without income of some sort, it would be impossible for NFPs to advance their mission, serve their communities and achieve their goals.

As statistics demonstrate, the income generated by the nonprofit sector makes a significant contribution to Australian GDP each year. According to key statistics about Australian volunteering provided by Volunteering Australia, the work performed by volunteers contributed over $25 billion to the Australian economy in 2010.  A recent study on Australian Giving by Swinburne University of Technology reports that 80% of Australians donate to nonprofits each year, with annual contributions now totaling over $12.5 billion.

All Work in the Nonprofit Sector is In Person and Very Hands On

While the staff and volunteers of many nonprofits do provide a lot of hands-on, direct services to recipients, many others offer opportunities to serve others that don’t require a lot of face-to-face contact. Some work can be completed online, from remote locations. Other opportunities are short term, or involve micro-volunteering and may include activities that range from helping out on a project for just a few hours one day, or even for just a few minutes!

The important thing to remember about the nonprofit sector is that there are countless ways that supporters can help nonprofits to advance their mission. Even if you don’t see an opportunity that fits your schedule or capabilities, when you share the values and concerns of a nonprofit, it’s always worth the time and effort to connect with them and ask how you can help them achieve their goals.

An increasing number of nonprofits have started placing their donation button above the fold on their websites. What this means is that the donate now button is prominently displayed at the top of every page. Items above the fold also remain at the top of the page, no matter how far down you happen to scroll, making it easy for visitors to click to give at any time.

With the growing popularity of this practice, it might seem redundant to include a separate donation page in your site’s navigation. While it might look like a bit of overkill if you have a donate button above the fold, including a donation page on your site is still an important part of fulfilling your visitor’s expectations. It also gives you another opportunity to explain the impact of one-time and reoccurring contributions.

The following are a few best practices to help you design a donation page that encourages visitors to get involved and make a difference.

Keep Your Donation Page Clear and Concise

Avoid the temptation to bombard donors with too much information on your donation form, as this can lead to frustration and make them tempted to click away. Avoid using Flash, or overly large images, that can slow down page loading. Use responsive design to optimise your site for mobile visitors.

Simplify your donation form so that it has only a few fields, and is quick and easy to fill out.

Make your call to action clear. Include descriptions of the impact of giving at different levels. Make certain that it is easy for donors to choose to make a one-time gift, or a regularly reoccurring contribution. Use tools that make it easy for potential donors to contribute at levels that qualify for matching funds.

Emphasise Security to Reassure Potential Donors

Some potential contributors are reluctant to donate online. Reassure them that your site is safe by using PCI compliant processors for all of your payments. Be certain to include their security logos on your donation page.

Use Your Thank You Page to Simplify Your Donation Page

Since you want to make donating as simple and straightforward as possible, some of the information that you might be tempted to include on the donation page is best moved to the thank you page.

Once the donation is complete, your site should take your donor directly to the thank you page, where it’s a good idea to include information on other ways that donors can help your cause, such as volunteering and advocacy.

The thank you page is also a good time to remind donors to stay connected with your nonprofit and keep up-to-date on the latest developments. Include buttons that make it easy for them to sign up for your newsletter and alerts about upcoming events.

A volunteer treasurer’s role can be both varied and challenging, and while your position can be as unique as the company you work for, all volunteer treasurer positions have one particular thing in common. It is important that you are organised and stay on top of your workload at all times.

While there are many positions where it is okay to fall behind or to have a week’s backlog of work sitting in the in-tray, a volunteer treasurer’s work can suffer if that happens on a regular basis. People look to the treasurer to be able to provide accurate information, and if there are a pile of receipts or invoices to be processed, the work will be far from accurate. As the position can be stressful, falling behind can only serve to heighten any anxiety, particularly if there are deadlines to meet.

As a volunteer treasurer, the transfer of money coming in and money going out is your responsibility. If there are any discrepancies, the blame will fall on you. You must be vigilant when it comes to the deposits and withdrawals and confirm that everything is as it should be.

Paperwork should always be filed before completion dates, and as NFPs rely on grants and are offered special dispensations by the government, everything must be done in a timely fashion. Falling behind on important deadlines can have huge repercussions.

Management will rely on your budget as a guide. If your actual budget is not accurate, then poor financial decisions may be made.

Failure to stay up to date, particularly when your tenure is at an end, will be a nightmare for the next person who takes over the volunteer treasurer office. Everything will need to be up to date to enable a smooth transition.

A volunteer treasurer plays an important part in sustaining the future of the nonprofit and ensuring it meets its goal and mission. There is no room for disorganisation anywhere in the skill list.

You may have spotted more than a smattering of hashtags on social media and perhaps thought they didn’t apply to you or your NFP. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are not using your hashtags on social media to your advantage, then it is time to make a change.

Hashtags are easily created by adding the sign ‘#’ before a word or group of words to enhance your marketing. Your hashtag creations can then be used freely across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It is a great way to group all of your relevant posts together. They can be particularly beneficial for fundraisers and events and can bring individuals together on one topic all through the use of a well-selected hashtag.

The posts can be viewed independently on your social media feeds or all together on your specific hashtag feed. So just to clarify, if you have created a hashtag called #FridayFundraise as an example, then you click on the hashtag and see all the posts which are connected through the use of that hashtag.

So how do you know which hashtags to use? Well, it must be relevant to you. While piggy backing on other trends will get you noticed, it is more beneficial to start your own hashtags. Keyhole can be a useful tool for research purposes.

If you consider the nature of your business, here are some suggestions. If you use these alongside your own personalised hashtags, you will increase your reach.

  • #donate
  • #causes
  • #volunteer
  • #change
  • #philanthropy
  • #nonprofit
  • #charity
  • #fundraising

Have a play around with them and see which ones bring the most appeal. Don’t be scared to add a handful to each post to get you started. This will add real meaning to your posts.

Once you get the hang of it, then you will be more confident to create your own. Use clever words or phrases such as #dogood or #spotlightonvolunteers or specific locations such as #yourcity. There is no right or wrong way to use them, except if you fail to use them at all. While you don’t have to use hashtags in every post, sprinkling them in every two or three posts will help you spread your message and keep up with current trends. #goodluck

If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

As the current focus for many NFPs at present is on budgets and figures, it should be noted that marketing for the next financial year will enter heavily into the equation. Did you successfully track your successes during the previous 12 months? Are you aware of which fundraising campaigns brought in the most money? Was there something that just didn’t work for your nonprofit?

Understanding your annual budget looking at both past and future options can be very exciting, but it is not without consequence. Allocate too little in a campaign, and you may fail to execute it appropriately. Allow too much, and you find yourself short in other areas. The decision you make now will determine the outcome 6 or 9 months down the line. So where should you be focusing your efforts to make a real difference without paying through the nose for the privilege?

Content Creation

Your focus should be on content creation with a twist. You want to engage, delight and inform. You want to surprise and inspire. It is no surprise then that storytelling should continue to be a significant aspect of this year’s goal. With the right stories, you can challenge and engage your viewers – this year’s nonprofit conversation needs to be all about you.

Influencer Marketing

Your NFP must source reputable personalities to get behind your brand and spread the word. Influencers are generally people not associated with a business but can promote and endorse and act on a company’s behalf. Influencer marketing takes the focus from more traditional marketing forms involving more of a personal connection to your organisation.

User Generated Content

With so many budding artists and storytellers out there, utilising user generated content is a great way to make yourself heard. Why not run a creative campaign asking for submissions to a competition? You can ask users to film an advertisement or photograph a relevant subject which you can then circulate across all of your social media avenues.

Thought Leaders

Thought leaders are becoming a popular way to market both for-profits and nonprofit organisations. Is there someone in your company that you could promote to this position? As a thought leader, they would need to be very vocal about all things related to your nonprofit, but it can be a very effective form of marketing if done well.

Live Video

We have seen an increase in the use of video for non-profit, but now organisations are beginning to realise the importance of live streaming video. The Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) did a live internet stream of their conference in Australia with great success. They weren’t the first to utilise this technology, and they definitely won’t be the last.

Not all NFPs have huge budgets to compete with others. Many of these ideas can be incorporated into a more restricted budget yet still provide excellent results. What do you plan to add to your marketing budget this year?