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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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We see it time and time again. Costly PR campaigns are created and fail to gain an emotional connection with their viewers.

If you want to increase your donor funds and gain more supporters, it is imperative you tell a story that connects with your readers. Simple facts, while interesting, are just not good enough for today’s modern donors.

It doesn’t matter which way you turn; you will be undoubtedly bombarded with marketing. Magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, bus station advertising, television advertising, radio advertising – all of these ads are fighting for your attention. Which campaigns are you likely to remember? The one that tells a story – the one that has something to say – the one that isn’t trying to sell you a product but rather an experience.

Using storytelling to represent your brand allows your audience to see behind the scenes. It takes them past the desks of the marketers and into the lives of the volunteers making a real difference in society. You can be more than just a name or a brand – you can show your human side to draw them in and elicit an emotion. This is a wonderful way to gain customer loyalty, especially in the long term. Your audience is after an authentic story that resonates with them – they want to be part of an organisation that really makes a difference.

As you define your brand through clever storytelling, you can also give it a personality. This personality should, of course, be representative of your overall mission and values. It is through your storytelling that you can develop and build on a relationship with your target audience. Those that feel a bond with your brand will not only give; they will in all likelihood be wonderful advocates for your NFP and share your information with friends and family.

Stories also stick in our memories the most. Remember all those fairy tales and nursery rhymes with moral messages at the end? Of course you do – stories stay with us, over and above everything else.

So go out there and tell your story. Creativity above everything else is a must in your next PR or marketing campaign. The power of words can be truly magical.

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social mediaNearly 7% of all of the donations that nonprofits receive comes from online sources, but harnessing the power of the Internet and Social Media tends to be less about collecting money and more about increasing interest in your NFP.

While social media is a great way to share stories about your nonprofit and strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, there are downfalls to using the platform. The following is a list of some common pitfalls that nonprofit’s experience when they rely too heavily on social media channels to spread their message.

It’s Expensive

Advertising on social media isn’t free, and even though Facebook and other social media platforms sometimes offer discounts, click-thru ads, sponsored posts and other marketing campaigns, it can be still extremely expensive.

NFPs must control costs by using tools that allow them to test messages, manage start and kill dates for ads, and set budgets to keep an eye on ad costs to make social media campaigns worthwhile.

Many Social Media Channels Offer Low ROI

It would be easier to justify expensive advertising on social media if these campaigns at least generated high returns on this investment. But, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t. Facebook offers the ability to connect, like and share with nonprofits, as well as the capacity to donate directly, and yet only provides a 3% increase in reach.

Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, make it easy to like photos and gain followers, who seldom, if ever, react to direct calls to action made on the platform. Snapchat’s ROI is even worse, as it doesn’t allow online donations directly from its app and nonprofits can’t even share a link to their website.

Despite the low returns on the time and money invested in social media, it’s still a great way to increase awareness about the good work that nonprofit accomplish. You can start conversations with others about the difference specific nonprofits are making in their communities, as an example.

NFPs should keep their objectives in mind, use targeting and segmentation to make certain that they are reaching the correct audience with their messages and set realistic goals when creating their social media marketing campaigns.

Focusing on Social Media Makes it Easy to Forget about Other Ways to Connect with Supporters

While social media seems to be all the rage these days, direct appeals and calls to action made on a nonprofit’s website, as well as in emails, newsletters and direct mail cost less to create and still generate most of the donations that are received by nonprofits.

NFPs that focus exclusively on social media marketing are likely missing out on ways to connect and raise funds that are less expensive and that offer a much higher return on the cost that is invested.

Trolls and Depressing News can Damage Social Media Marketing Efforts

Not every visitor to your nonprofit’s social media accounts is there to connect and share with you in a positive, meaningful manner. There are individuals who surf the Internet looking to join in on conversations with the deliberate intention to create as much chaos and ill will as possible.

Sometimes in the comments section and elsewhere, visitors may share depressing news or memes that feature disturbing text or images. NFPs must take care to monitor and moderate their social media accounts to protect the reputation of the NFP. Care must also be taken when responding to potentially negative or offensive posts to avoid encouraging or “feeding” trolls.

Social media is a great way to increase awareness about your NFP’s mission. The high cost of social media marketing campaigns, and the low returns that they offer, means that most non-profits should continue to include other more traditional methods of communication and fundraising in their strategic marketing plans in addition to their social media marketing efforts.

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business-card-contact-business-cards-business-42260I have visited quite a few contact us pages in my time, and I always find them lacking somehow. They should, in reality, be more than just a name, address and a contact form. But somehow it seems to be the one page that gets thrown together at the last minute before the site gets published. Or at least it comes across that way.

Shouldn’t the contact page be the icing on the cake; that last page that they see before they effectively sign up or decide to take the next step and contact you? Then in my mind, it should be more than a form – rather a wonderful continuation of the rest of the website.

So, what can you add to make your contact us page more effective?

An Introduction

It sounds so easy, yet surprisingly this is the one thing that seems to be left off the page. Add a couple of sentences to show them how much you cherish their business and would appreciate the opportunity to connect with them. Simple words can do wonders.

Full Business Name and Postal Address

To assist in clarity, your full business name and address aids in allowing people to contact you via the postal system (yes, it is still used on the odd occasion) and can assist your business when it comes to appearing in Google local searches.

Business Phone Number

Make sure your contact number is clear and legible. If you have various phone numbers, then specify for each department to avoid confusion.

Email Address

If you do intend to add your email address alongside your contact form, then it is best to replace the “.com.au” with “dot com dot au” to avoid it being used for spam purposes.

Opening Hours

If you don’t want to be contacted at all hours of the day or night or only respond to emails during certain hours, then let people know all the facts. This will ensure your soon-to-be clients that you will respond to their queries as soon as you possibly can.

Google Map

If you operate from a brick and mortar address, then Google makes it easy to add your address to your website. Clients can check the maps for directions and not bother you with questions about how to find your business.

Contact Form

Contact pages are a necessity and makes connecting with other companies a breeze. Keep it as simple as possible with as few fields as necessary: name, email address and message should generally suffice in the first instance.

For more information on this topic, read Ingrid Cliff’s post on “How To Write A Contact Us Page That Gets Results”. She is a valuable resource on this subject and her business contact us page is a testament to her knowledge.

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pexels-photo-191830The media is your best friend when it comes to spreading the word about your charity – and in today’s NFP world, the power of public relations is often underestimated. It comes as an afterthought rather than a focused strategy to forge the charity ahead.

This is such a shame as public relations has a fundamental role in the success of your marketing and fundraising.

You have something important to say or a message to spread so what’s stopping you from contacting them directly? Pitching a story can be difficult for those who have yet to do it. However, once you have mastered the pitching strategy, then it does become easier and even enjoyable if your story breaks. A good PR pitch can do wonders for your fundraising capabilities as well.

Some of the steps you need to know in order to be successful include:

  • Know your objectives
  • Compile a list of relevant media
  • Search for a story
  • Prepare a killer media release
  • Get your story to the media
  • Work with the journalist to finalise the story

But how do you know you have a good media or press release? Check it first for conciseness and avoid rambling. Start with the news and add some relevant quotes with accurate attribution. Of course, it needs to be interesting too as well as topical. If you have managed to cover those without too much trouble, then you are well on the way.

Here is a great example. If your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.

One thing that stops many NFPs in their tracks is the cost of public relations. But don’t panic – there are some low-cost options available. And if all else fails, negotiating the final price can help.

However, what happens when things don’t work out in your favour, and you develop some bad press? Initially, try to identify the impact of the negative publicity and be open and honest about the situation. Remaining in denial or looking like it does not affect you at all, can make the situation worse.

Are you still a bit afraid about where to start – why not try contacting your local newspaper to see what they can do for you? Create a relationship with your local reporter and learn the PR ropes from the inside out. Start small and build up your promotions and stories as your confidence grows. As always, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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linkedin-911794_640Keeping a steady online presence is important for keeping your organisation in the front of supporters’ minds, and LinkedIn is one of the most useful social media sites to be a part of. It is not only a great way to keep donors up to date about what your organisation is up to, but also a efficient way to network with other organisations with similar causes. Look at the following tips to make sure you are using LinkedIn effectively.

Let Loose Your Brand

Set up a non-profit company page, and build it to contain all the relevant information people need to know about your organisation. Make sure it is easy to identify as the official representation of your group, by using official logos and letterheads. Add photos and vital details to demonstrate the dimensions of your organisation, and give viewers as full a picture as you can of your real-world operations.

Network with the Unknown

As well as adding groups and individuals you already liase with to your profile, seek out other organisations that share your mission, or who have shared clientele with you. LinkedIn is used the world over to make new connections or the advancement of many causes, so don’t be shy about sharing your message.

Be There Often

Keep to a regular schedule for updating so supporters always know what projects are underway or what fundraising activities are currently going on. Avoid inundating contacts with information, but do frequently remind them you are there. Depending on the size and scope of your organisation, consider updating once daily or weekly to get the balance right.

Let Your Message Shine

As well as a regular LinkedIn page, NFPs should also look into becoming involved in the Linkedin Answers community. This is a simple way to keep your finger on the pulse and in touch with what questions are arising in and about your industry. By asking and getting new information, knowledge bases of all parties can grow. Being the one to answer others queries can help develop a reputation for expertise.

Overall, LinkedIn is an affordable way to reach a lot of people, and generate valuable business contacts. It is effective when used well, and can drive traffic to your organisation’s main page and message. For further information straight from the source, have a look at LinkedIn’s special page just for not-for-profits. The training program provided is a true course to getting your feet wet.

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hand-895588_640Marketing is, essentially, about getting your brand out there, into the big wide world and getting people to know about you and what it is you do. Ideally, you want to take it to the next step, where people are talking about you and doing your marketing work for you.

This is where a good team with great marketing skills comes in. It needs to be made clear that marketing is NOT sales, although the two can work collaboratively to achieve the same outcome.

A good marketer will have a range of skills, all relevant to knowing not only how to communicate to your target audience, but how to read them, and gauge their reactions. Understanding how the marketing is being understood is as vital to the outcome as is the marketing itself.

Whether a single person or a team, what they must have to be great marketers is:

Ability to communicate across platforms 

This goes beyond being able to whip up a brochure, web page, or video to communicate to the market. Communication is a complete package. If you place an awesome video on a website that is detracting to the market, it is next to pointless.

Communication is not just the video, or the webpage, but how that page is presented, its friendliness and ease of use, and how it works for the visitor.

Understanding the vast differences between the social media is also important. Not only in what you can say or do on them, but also in how the audiences work. They need to be proficient not only in posting, but also in connecting and conversing with followers and likers.

Digitally Skilled 

Following on from above, a good marketing team will have the skills to negotiate the backend of a website. They don’t need to be web designers, or know the ins and outs of HTML, CSS and other coding languages.

They do need to know the basics, and understand how a website is set up and can be altered. This helps with communications to those who are proficient in those areas, as well as enabling them to make any minor changes required.

More than this, it gives them a deeper understanding of how the message will be distributed and received. This can provide an insight that will take your message to that next level.

Data Aware 

Being able to analyse data is essential.

You can gauge the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, to a degree, by the number of comments on a blog post, or shares on Facebook.

This is only tip of the iceberg data. Being able to translate the whole data, from interactions and comments, to views and shares, as well as tracking where and how it is being seen and responded provides a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of the campaign.

Not only this, it also gives you invaluable information on what works and what doesn’t. It means you can step your next campaign or materials up to the next level. You can only improve, and become more well known, by knowing this information.

If your team don’t have these skills, it’s worth investing in some training for them. The don’t need to do a full on web design course, for example, but enrolling in some basic coding courses, Photoshop, social media training, and/or data analysis is vital.

If you have a team, working out the strengths of individuals and giving them that role will benefit. Your whole team having skills in all areas, however, will give you the boost you may need.

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