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While your nonprofit should be showing gratitude to your supporters throughout the year, holidays like Christmas are a special time. Get into the spirit of the season by putting some extra thought and effort into the ways you thank others for their donations.

The following tips add a festive touch to the ways you acknowledge others for their contributions to your organisation.

Celebrate Recurring Donors

Reward your donors’ loyalty to your organisation by sending a personalised thank you note that recognises the anniversary of their support. For example, if a supporter has sent you a contribution every year for the past ten years, be sure to thank them for supporting your NFP over the last decade. Talk about the impact that has been made due to their support, and recount some of the progress that your organisation has made during that time.

Remember Their Name, and Use It

Nonprofits collect a lot of demographic information about their supporters. Use this information to make your donors feel appreciated. Always personalise your notes of gratitude by using your donor’s name.

Include handwritten notes inside your Christmas cards and other communications. Continue reaching out through the entire year. For example, if you collect donors’ date of birth, reach out on their birthday with a note or phone call congratulating them and wishing them all the best!

Customised Stocking Stuffers

A number of novelty gift shops and speciality printers make it easy, and budget-friendly, to give customised items like mugs, calendars and more at a reasonable cost. While you could personalise these items with your NFP’s logo and tagline, consider going the extra mile for your VIPs and include your donor’s name on the gift item as well!

Give Sweets and Other Treats

If you have some skilled bakers on your team, recruit them to make smaller versions of holiday cakes and breads that you will wrap and send to supporters. Include a handwritten card or note thanking them for their contributions. If no one has time for cooking, you could also send out some attractive chocolate bars, or other prepackaged, but delicious, holiday candies or cookies. Wrap them up in a festive bow or package them in a holiday-themed tin.

Videos and Highlight Reels

Because of the hard work of your volunteers, staff and donors, your organisation has accomplished a lot this year. Make a video to send to your donors and other supporters that thanks them for their efforts and visually shows the impact created by their work.

Ideally, this video should include several candid snapshots along with short snippets of footage you’ve shot during many of your NFP’s service projects and events. Include parts of testimonials from some of your beneficiaries, board, staff, volunteers and, your donors. Gather together some of the folks connected with your organisation and ask them to hold up signs or letters that spell out the words thank you in the closing moments of your video.

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If you want to build authentic relationships that lead to increased loyalty and participation, then you need to be present in the same place as your supporters, and, be a part of their conversations. Blogging is an easy way to accomplish this task.

According to statistics provided by blogging.org, there were nearly seven million blogs in 2016. Blogger, one of the most popular blog creation sites, has over 47 million unique visitors to its blogs each month. It’s also been shown that organisations that blog generate 67% more leads, and views, than those who do not have a blog and fail to post regularly.  

This data perfect illustrates exactly why blogging is the perfect platform for nonprofits to engage with others. It’s the one online location where many of your potential supporters already happen to be!

Nonprofits that blog regularly benefit from the following advantages.

Build Trust in Your NFP’s Brand

When you share your knowledge with others through your blog posts, you quickly become a reliable source of information for those that share your values and are interested in the issues your cause is trying to address.

Establishing trust is essential, because, when others view you as trustworthy, they are more likely to become supporters and take action to help. This is true whether that action is jumping on board as a volunteer or advocate, or making a financial contribution that enables you to continue our work.

Once someone makes the conversion from being just another visitor to the site to becoming an actual supporter, they are also more likely to share your posts with others and help spread the message about the issues and the change that you are trying to create.

Keep Your Supporters Updated

What’s the best way to get the word out about important information that supports your nonprofit and its supporters? The answer really does depend on what you are trying to say.

For example, Twitter tweets are a great way to send out a reminder, or a quick alert about an upcoming event. Instagram is an ideal way to illustrate your nonprofit’s impact visually, and Facebook is awesome to share posts that ultimately increase traffic to your site and generate discussions about your latest happenings.

Blogs, by design, are really the best place to post your lengthy content. Create posts that give the details about the progress you are making, or that offers an insider’s view of the work performed by your volunteers and other supporters. It can even be a superb way to increase transparency when you discuss the actions your NFP is taking to create solutions or your success in obtaining funding for specific projects.

Raise Awareness

Blogging will also generate interest in your cause because it’s an organic way to find new supporters. Not only will your website rank higher in search engine results, but, when your blog has been created directly within your NFP’s website, every time someone shares one of your blog posts, they are sending their friends to a direct gateway to your NFP. Once they arrive at your site, it’s then easier to direct them to even more content where they can learn more about your cause and what they need to do to help!

With the exception of time, blogging requires very few resources. However, it can offer great rewards to those who put in the effort to create interesting content that is relevant to your visitors and encourages them to directly interact with your nonprofit!

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2017 is coming to a close, and in a few short weeks, it will be time to ring in the New Year. This transition is more than a simple date on the calendar, however, it’s also the perfect time to take stock of your strategic plans and prepare for the changes that 2018 is expected to bring.

To help you start the year off on the right foot, we’ve created a list of the top social media trends for 2018.

Twitter

Nearly a month before year’s end, Twitter surprised users with the announcement that it has doubled the character limit for posts, from 140 to 280 characters. This change should give nonprofits and other users the ability to add more depth to their Tweets. Just be careful and don’t use the expansion as an excuse to add unnecessary words and fillers to your posts. The eloquent shortness of a Tweet was a major factor in the platform’s appeal.

Live Videos

Over the past few years, we’ve seen nonprofits begin to jump on the video content wagon as one of the new and exciting ways to vary their storytelling to expand the reach of their messages and raise awareness about their cause. In 2018, NFPs need to be aware that a growing number of users are showing a distinct preference for live streams over pre-recorded videos that are downloaded and watched.

Look for ways to take advantage of the popularity of this trend, and increase support for your nonprofit, by making live-video of auctions, fundraisers, ceremonies, and other events available and easily accessible.

Augmented Reality

A number of platforms and businesses are using augmented reality to blur the line between reality and fantasy. Companies like Ikea are using AR to create digital overlays over the physical world and make it easy for their customers to see how specific items of furniture and accessories will look in their homes.

Various online games are using it to create more interactive experiences for their consumers. Snapchat has been using AR face filters to make chatting with connections more fun, thereby increasing the amount of time users spend on the platform with others.

AR is still in its infancy as a technology, so folks haven’t even really begun to fully think about and conceptualise what can be done with it. From an industry standpoint, don’t be surprised to see enterprising nonprofits start to adopt the technology. It will make it easier for donors to really “see” the full impact of donations at specific levels, or use it in other ways to make it easier, and entertaining, to connect with their supporters in real time.

Virtual Reality is somewhat related to tech, in that it allows users to fully immerse themselves into a digital experience. Facebook Spaces is one of many soon-to-be-released social media tools that will allow users to create a virtual reality where they can interact with others.

Nonprofits should watch out for ways to use both AR and VR to enhance their storytelling and interact with supporters in new and exciting ways.

The Power of Influencers is Increasing

Obvious marketing and advertising ploys have become very unpopular with the public in recent years. The challenge of for-profit organisations is to convince others to support their brand without making it evident that they are selling something.

To achieve this, commercial enterprises have increasingly been turning to endorsements from celebrities and trendsetters to tap into the popularity of these personalities to increase appeal for their brands.

To increase their support and build their own brands, nonprofits should look for ways to attract the support of key influencers. Endorsements from celebrities and other thought leaders can help raise awareness about an NFP’s cause, encourage greater giving as well as help with the recruiting of top talent to become members of staff and volunteers.

Short Lived Content

Snapchat popularised this concept, but an increasing number of social media channels are making it easier for users to create specialised ad campaigns and other content that will disappear rapidly. Even though the content is only visible for less than 24 hours, it helps to generate a sense of urgency in viewers and encourages them to take action. Both for-profit and nonprofits are expected to take advantage of this new type of content that is also known as ephemeral, or disappearing, content.

The Rise of the Bots

Chatbots have been around for years, and got their start on message boards and online forums during the Internet’s infancy. Their incorrect use of syntax and language, however, made them rather obvious, and easy to avoid. The technology has progressed to the point, however, that it’s become increasingly difficult to tell a chatbot apart from an actual human. It may be worth investing in a chatbot on Facebook and other social media platforms to help drive engagement during fundraising campaigns and other online events.

Technology is continually changing and evolving. Staying current on the latest trends will help your nonprofit stay ahead of the curve and build your brand’s reputation and strength.

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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.

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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

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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?

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The NFP industry requires charities and non-profits to be transparent in their actions. This transparency puts a large amount of focus on trust, confidence and the reputation of the charity as a whole. Often the donor requests and fundraising successes rest wholeheartedly on the reputation of the charity, and there is a lot of competition in the industry to garner support, especially from the larger organisations.

NFPs that tend to be successful in their charitable efforts can not only demonstrate their best practice governance but also communicate it effectively. All NFPs and even for-profit businesses need to manage their reputation on a regular basis. It is critical to the successful operation of the non-profit and to develop positive connections with stakeholders, donors, members, government bodies and the general public.

What exactly is reputation management?

Reputation management covers the building up and the monitoring of your brand through your efforts in media promotion and marketing. A health check enables you to look at your marketing efforts and responses to understand where your vulnerabilities lie and where you can further develop your promotional opportunities.

Auditing for risk is something that every business should do on a regular basis. It is better to create forward plans rather than panic when an issue occurs, and your organisation is forced into crisis mode. Draft out some scenarios and work out some helpful strategies that will enable you to be able to control the outcome more closely.

From a social media perspective, while it is easier to communicate directly with donors and supporters, it is also easier for NFPs to be targeted with negative comments, whether fair or irrational. Knowing this is half the battle.

How do people perceive your business?

How do stakeholders view your NFP? How does the general public see your business? Are you different from other charities working in a similar field? If you are not able to answer these questions, then you may be missing value opportunities for your NFP to safeguard and develop your brand. Talk to your donors and sponsor to get real insights on your efforts to help you develop more effective strategies and marketing efforts for the long-term. Your ability to not be able to effectively understand your competitors can also affect you negatively. Know where your strengths are to be able you to stand out from the crowd and gain the confidence of the general public.

How can you manage your online reputation?

Here are some tips to help you manage your online reputation.

  • Be objective when it comes to your website. Consider whether it is easy to navigate or find relevant information. Are the contact details up to date and accessible?
  • Review your social media and online strategies. Let employees and volunteers know what they can and cannot do on social media.
  • How is your organisation represented on third party websites? Do a search and see where you can improve your profiles and online representations.
  • Allow plenty of opportunities for members, interested stakeholders, volunteers and employees to give you regular feedback.
  • Set up alerts to monitor the internet for organisational content so you can keep on top of who might be saying what.

Once you understand how your NFP is seen, you can then make steps to direct the chatter. Be proactive with your efforts so you can ensure your organisation can fulfill its mission and ultimately increase support and contributions from others.

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