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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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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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