With donations to non-profits and charities dwindling with the sinking economy, these organizations need to discover new ways to reach their financial goals and their missions. Laura Quinn of Idealware provides five ideas that non-profits can do to promote themselves online.
Non-profits are going to need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to survive this economic downturn, and those that do will be in a stronger position in the long run.
Five Things Non-Profits Can Do to Promote Themselves Online:
- Develop and Effective Web site: Heading into 2010, a Web site might seem obvious, but it’s important to start with the fundamentals. As Quinn states, “to think about what it is you want to say about yourself and what it is that you’re going to actually promote. Are you promoting your organization as a whole? Are you promoting a particular event? Are you promoting a particular campaign? It’s often easier to promote something in particular rather than just, ‘Hey, we’re here! We exist!'”
- Search Engine Marketing: Quinn suggests starting with a keyword analysis to determine which phrases will drive the most qualified traffic to your site. She also suggests taking advantage of Google Grants: In-kind advertising for non-profit organizations. “Google Grants provides lots and lots of free Google ads, more money in Google ads money than a small nonprofit is likely to ever spend. So that’s a terrific opportunity.”
- Discover Where Existing Conversations Are Already Taking Place: Quinn suggests not trying to recreate the wheel, but rather start with finding out where your prospects already are, and listening to the conversations that are already going on. “I think that it tends to be a little more cost effective, and also it’s kind of just a nice way to get your feet wet, to look into the online conversations that are already taking place. Look at what blogs are there that are related to your subject matter that you can read, get to know, start to comment on and start to get familiar with that community and maybe form a relationship with a blogger.” She also suggests not overlooking more “traditional” conversations, like the ones going on in discussion forums or through listservs.
- Create Content Worth Talking About: When you are ready to graduate from listening and engaging, it might be time to create content around your cause. “Think about what it is that you could provide that would really be a conversation starter and that would encourage your own supporters to pass information on to their friends and that would start chatter among people who are interested in your cause,” suggests Quinn.
- Leverage Social Media Sites to Engage Your Audience: Quinn suggests Twitter as a starting place, “which I wouldn’t have believed six months ago I would be listing as one of my top most effective social media techniques.” She also recommends a Facebook Fan Page. “Both Twitter and Facebook have what we call the “network effect” where you can put something out or you can ask a question or make a statement to your own community and it can easily travel beyond your community.” Blogs can also be powerful tools for non-profits.
For those interested, you can find the full transcript of my interview with Laura Quinn here.
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