You Don’t Need to Recreate the Wheel

Trying to figure out how your organization can be more effective online?  There are many nonprofits that are already succeeding that you can learn from.  Probably the most publicized success story in recent years is the astounding growth of charity: water, featured in a recent post by  One particularly interesting point is how charity: water has partnered which local organizations that actually do much of their core work (the nonprofit didn’t build an infrastructure to do it themselves).

In addition, when charity: water communicates with its supporters, the focus is on the cause, not the organization.  If your organization does many different things and you’re having difficulty what to focus on, take Katya Andresen’s suggestion to make modules out of your mission.  Not all of your constituents will care about everything you do, but there is probably some program or activity that particularly interests them.

Hearing a lot about mobile?  Nten‘s Holly Ross discusses 5 Nonprofits That Are Innovating with Mobile.  Even if you decide that you don’t have the bandwidth for a mobile approach yet, don’t forget to test outgoing emails on cell phones since so many more constituents are reading emails on cell phones.

The old model of technology focused on getting support from product vendors.  While I still work closely with my vendors’ customer support staffs, I also rely on checking in with my colleagues across the country, many who are asking the same questions as I am.  (Some issues I’m currently working on are how can I increase engagement with my organization’s Facebook followers and how can I integrate online forms from my vendors in social media platforms – since this is where many of my constituents are spending time online, never reaching my nonprofit’s website).

Another way to learn from others is to follow the most frequently used nonprofit hashtags, as nicely summarized by Kerri Karvetski.  (Don’t forget to use these hashtags when you post on Twitter!)

Fortunately, the nonprofit sector is a very open, sharing community.  Instead of struggling on your own, take the time to learn from what other organizations have already done, and ask for help if you need assistance in making your nonprofit shine online.  And don’t be afraid to fail.  As I was recently reminded by social media superstar Danielle Brigida, most of us are still figuring things out, especially since online products / services are constantly changing.

Developing a Content Strategy

Do you use an editorial calendar to plan what content you will post on your website and other online platforms, or do you mostly create content on the fly?   In Deciding What the American Red Cross Tweets, social media guru Wendy Harman says that it’s a combination of both, and that her organization encourages staff to learn by using social media but also provides training.  At certain times of year or when disaster strikes, the Red Cross uses much more planned content.

At a recent webinar on Content Strategy on a Shoestring Budget, Balance Interactive suggested these books: the Web Content Strategist’s Bible, and Content Strategy for the Web.  Here’s my additional tips:

  • Encourage staff to participate in the content creation process by writing up feedback received from the constituents you’re helping – proactively ask for feedback by phone, email or through surveys.
  • Spend some time organizing your network directories so content is stored in a logical way – and make sure staff know where to find and post data
  • Don’t forget to add photos, videos or podcasts – this is especially effective to quickly post content from organization events
  • Categorize your Facebook and Twitter posts to make sure you’re not overly highlighting one aspect of your work while neglecting other programs
  • Look for ways to tie in current events with your work
  • Decide how many platforms you can realistically post on – better to do a few well than to try to be everywhere
  • When tweeting, make your post worthwhile for someone to read even if they don’t have the time to click through on the link

For more ideas on content creation, view Managing Content on the National Wildlife Federation’s Website.  If you’re in NYC, learn from social media expert Danielle Brigida at this week’s NYC 501 Tech Club meeting.  Finally, sign up for Kivi Leroux Miller’s upcoming webinar, Taming Your Editorial Calendar and Content Creation Process on May 18.

Wishing everyone a healthy and joyous Passover and Easter holiday.