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The problems that you are trying to solve, and the work that your NFP does in your community, defines why your organisation exists. Your organisation’s values, what you stand for, believe in, and are passionate about, define who you are. When creating your NFP’s mission, you should take elements from both to create a statement that inspires you, your team, and your other supporters to make a positive difference.

The following suggestions can help you create a mission statement that motivates your stakeholders and community to work with your organisation for the good of everyone! Additional tips are included to help you use your new mission statement for the best effect.

Develop Your Mission

When creating your mission, you should think about both your values and your vision for your organisation. To do this, you need to first clearly define the problems or issues that your NFP wants to solve, along with the steps that you will take to achieve your mission.

Don’t just talk about what you want to do but think about the way that you want to accomplish your objectives. What actions are in keeping with your values, and which aren’t? How do you expect to treat your supporters and others in your community? Define the lines that you won’t cross.

Both Vision and Values Influence the Mission

Once you have your NFP’s value and vision clearly in focus, you can then begin to write your mission statement. If you are still having a hard time connecting with what it is that you do, and why your organisation and its work matters, consider surveying your service beneficiaries, along with your staff, volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders. Find out from them what they think of when they hear your organisation’s name.

Start a Fire with Your Mission

Choose your words carefully when defining your mission. As you read over your statement, you should find that it stirs your emotions and makes you, and others, want to get to work addressing the issues that you want to solve. It should serve as a rallying point for everyone connected to your organisation.

If your statement doesn’t move you and  compel you to act, it’s missing something. This something is likely connected to your vision and values, so think of ways to let this shine through more clearly when you rewrite your statement.

Revise, Review and Ask for Feedback

Before you release your new mission statement to the world, review it for any mistakes or contradictions. Go back and talk with some of the stakeholders that you initially surveyed and ask them if it captures the heart and soul of what your NFP is all about. Be open to suggestions and make revisions as necessary.

Align Your Team with Your Mission

Once you have written an inspiring mission statement, it’s time to put it to good use. You will want to publish your mission statement in your “about” section of your blog, and, include it in the appropriate, designated sections of your essential publications, documents, and grant applications.

It’s also important to take steps to get your staff, volunteers and other supporters to align with your mission. When others are in alignment with your NFP’s mission, it means that everyone is focusing their efforts and working together towards a common objective.

Failing to align your team with your mission leads to a lot of wasted time, effort and other resources, making it much harder to achieve any of your goals.

Alignment is the Result of Effective Leadership

Aligning your team with your mission comes down to how effective your organisation’s leadership is, at every level. Just like culture, the mission statement is defined by leadership. It is up to your leaders to model your NFP’s vision and values, making sure that their talk matches their actions and is true to the mission statement. Leaders then can speak to others from a position of authenticity and honesty, which is especially important when they hold others accountable to achieving the mission.

Communication is the Key to Alignment

Leadership should communicate your mission to the rest of the team, so that your staff, volunteers and other stakeholders know what’s at stake, and how their work specifically contributes to advancing the mission forward.

Conduct periodic surveys with your staff, volunteers and other stakeholders to see what they think about the mission statement and whether it is an accurate reflection of how they experience their connection with your organisation. If there’s a disconnect there, it’s a good idea to ask questions to learn what areas your NFP needs to address to bring the organisation, and its culture, in closer alignment with the mission.

Keep Your Core Mission Top of Mind

As time goes on and the number and types of services that you offer grows, it’s easy for leadership and other stakeholders to become distracted. Take steps to help everyone keep the mission at the forefront of their thoughts and actions.

Make Your Mission Measurable, and Meaningful on a Personal Level

Hold periodic meetings to remind your team of the mission. Tie in goals and the evaluation of your team’s group and individual performance to advancing the mission. Show how important your mission is by tying compensation, bonuses, recognition and perks to how well your team members advance the mission.

Distractions from Your Core Mission Weaken Performance

Reduce distractions by using your mission as the yardstick by which you measure proposals. If a program or service isn’t really advancing your purpose, it’s probably something that you want to at least think about reducing, eliminating, or perhaps partnering with a third party to provide. Keep the spotlight on your core mission and increase your efficiency and effectiveness in the process.

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Recently, Google has made several changes to its Ad Grants program that may affect your nonprofit’s eligibility for free advertising awarded by Google. The following brief overview covers some of the program’s requirements and changes that became effective January 1st.

Qualifying for Google Ad Grants

Location is a major requirement for the program. Currently, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States are among the 50 countries where nonprofits can be based and still qualify for the program.

In addition to location, qualifying nonprofits are those that are legally designated as charities in their country of origin. Charities that have an established website with extensive existing content should apply. NFPs must also agree to abide by Google’s terms regarding nondiscrimination policies, and how they receive and use their donations.

Staying Qualified – Rising Expectations

To continue to qualify for the grants, which include $10,000 a month in free ad spend, NFPs must adhere to Google’s program policies. Recent policy changes are designed to improve the experience of the end user, and also allow nonprofits to better target audiences who will truly be interested in their cause and the work that they do to create a positive impact in their communities.

Critical Updates to the Program

Key updates to the program include a new requirement for nonprofits to create ad campaigns that achieve a click-thru-rate (CRT) of 5 percent two months in a row to avoid cancellation of the account.  While this is an achievable goal, the pressure is really on NFPs to continually monitor their ad campaigns, checking analytics, test messages and continually pushing for improvement in the quality of their content, and, the results.

NFPs will also need to create more targeted ad groups and align them with specific landing pages rather than allowing traffic to arrive at a generic welcome page for all of their ad groups. To prevent the loss of the grant, nonprofits will need to immediately pause any underperforming campaign and take immediate steps to improve their targeting and messaging.

The quality of the keywords that NFPs target will also take on added importance, with overall quality needing to now meet a minimum score of 3 as a benchmark. Standard Ad Words policies also remain in effect for these accounts.

Making the Best of the Changes

Along with the new requirements, Google has made additional changes that will directly benefit NFPs. For example, in the past its been difficult for many nonprofits to use their entire $10,000 a month in free ad spend because of the $2 cap on CPC campaigns. Now, when NFPs build their campaign with an automated bidding strategy to Maximise Conversions, they can use more of their grant money during this process and have a better chance of winning when bidding on specific keywords. This levels the playing field against competitors who are often for-profit businesses with greater access to cash and other financial resources.

This change is a welcome addition to Google’s lineup of helpful webinars, blog posts and local events that are designed to assist nonprofits learn more about the program and how to put it to best use to increase the reach of their message and encourage greater support through volunteering, advocacy and donations.

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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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