Everyone in business today, even including the nonprofit sector, must have a website to effectively reach customers and audiences. In “Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits,” Heather Mansfield emphasizes that a website is central to any social media and online fundraising efforts and those efforts must all relate back to the website. Mansfield refers to website, e-newsletter, and donation solicitations as Web 1.0 campaigns that work in unison. She recommends investing a minimum of $2,500 a year in web design and maintenance, but says $5,000 to $10,000 is more realistic for nonprofits to be effective online.
Be Trustworthy, Not Spammy
In order to be effective, nonprofits must do everything possible to promote their trustworthiness as an organization requesting financial assistance from the public. With the multitude of online and telephone scams designed to dupe people out of their money and their personal identification information, a charitable organization with carelessly designed e-mail campaigns may be overlooked by recipients thinking they are phishing scams. With the proliferation of mobile technology and apps, nonprofits have the opportunity to reach more people than ever before. But new technology brings new opportunities for thieves and scammers, who operate voice phishing or “vishing” to trick people over the phone and mobile apps to give out information about bank accounts and personal identification.
What Spammy Messages Look Like
A well-crafted message that conveys your organization’s purpose and asks for financial support in the form of donations is not easy to write. It takes time, great writing skills, the ability to know the audience, and the use of specific style and tone. But you can sabotage a well-written e-mail, mobile app, blog post, or other social media message with spammy language in subject lines, address lines, and content.
Spammy words and phrases to avoid include:
· Act Now
· Limited Time
· Click Now
Spammy content styling to avoid:
· Don’t use too much punctuation, especially multiple exclamation marks!!!!!
· Don’t address messages to Head of Household or Current Resident.
· Don’t send a single large graphic; use a combination of text and related graphics, as Mail Chimp recommends.
Best Practices Aren’t Spammy
There are several good practices for charities participating in social media in order to get their message out and solicit funds. They include monitoring your organization’s GuideStar “Nonprofit Report,” monitoring your charity ratings and reviews, and making your “Donate Now” button different than your website color scheme so it stands out.
Whatever online presence you use to promote your organization and ask for donations, Mansfield recommends ensuring that your information in GuideStar is current. Because GuideStar listings are bumped out to partners like Facebook Causes, Crowdrise, and other online giving portals and social networking sites, incorrect information in GuideStar will affect your donation collections. She recommends updating it at least every year.
Watch your charity ratings and reviews on sites like Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GiveWell, and GreatNonprofits. Ask your biggest supporters to give your organization positive reviews on these sites.
Mansfield claims that “Donate Now” buttons that are unique and stand out will result in more donations. Donate buttons should be on every page of the website so visitors don’t have to look for them.