There are many ways constituents discover nonprofit organizations. They buy tickets to the local aquarium. A friend asks them to support a favorite nonprofit’s 5K event. A speaker visits their school and talks about water shortages in Africa. Maybe a news network runs a story about a public garden. So how can you take this fact and set up your organization for success?
We want to let strangers know who we are and ask them to visit our organization (in person or virtually). We don’t need them to marry us on the first date, so we’re not going to define success as anything more than a visit.
To get those visits, there are three steps you need to take [and an eBook you should read!]:
1. Identify your target.
For many organizations, the “target constituent” usually means “everyone.” The unfortunate reality is that every organization can’t be a fit for all people. Your unique organization calls attention to a need that only you can fill, and that’s what makes your nonprofit great.
The easiest way to identify your “target constituent” is to look around you. Who is visiting your museum? Who is volunteering? What are the demographics in your database? Once you identify some common trends, create a constituent persona to help communicate your target audience to the rest of the organization. The more team members who can identify and describe your constituents, the more successful your organization will be.
2. Create opportunities.
Using the constituent personas you’ve created, think about where you can create opportunities for people to learn about you. Is your constituent persona active? Then a race that encourages participants to have friends sponsor them may be the best bet. Are kids a key part of your organization? Then going to a classroom to do a presentation might get kids excited about your organization.
Go where your future constituents are. Join us for tomorrow’s webinar to find out how.
One thing that many organizations forget about is the Internet. Chances are, your future constituents are using it in some way, shape, or form. They’re on social media, doing Google® searches, or catching up on the latest news. Make sure you’re including opportunities here, too. Having a website that doesn’t change or a Facebook® page that never updates isn’t going to get new people to your website. Would you continue reading a new magazine if the issue were the same every month? You have a great mission that the world needs to know about! So keep your sites updated with new developments, stories from those you serve, or announcements. This will increase the number of opportunities you get with strangers online.
Some additional ways to create opportunities online are:
- Blogs: Blogs are a traditional way of telling your story online. Many organizations are afraid to start blogs because they don’t know what to talk about. There are lots of articles online about writing blogs, but the key success factors are to write about what you’re passionate about and to write consistently. Talk about your mission. If you’re a museum, blog about your exhibits, the excited kids from a recent field trip, or what a sister museum is doing. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be every day. It can be once a week—just make sure you post something every week if that’s what you decide.
- Social Media: Social media is a great way to get people’s attention.Offering the opportunity for your visitors and constituents to tweet or Facebook® post about you is a way to get exposure to their networks of family and friends. Use Twitter® so make announcements, such as goals reached, new exhibitions, or missions accomplished. Use Facebook® to build relationships, so stay more focused on impact stories. Try including a picture with your Facebook® post to get more attention.
3. Offer a path.
Have you ever walked into a business and seen the staff look surprised to have customers? It’s like they set up the building, business plan, and product but didn’t expect that anyone would actually come into the store. This creates a very awkward experience for the customer and causes you to lose trust in the business you’re visiting. Don’t let that be your organization!
The goal of the Discover phase, as mentioned, is for people to visit you, so make sure you’re prepared for their visit. More often than not, people will start their visit with your website.
There are key pages people will likely encounter first on a website, such as the home page, the “About Us” page, and any landing pages you create for specific campaigns and appeals.
Make sure these pages are:
- Simple: A first-time visitor doesn’t need to know everything aboutyour organization, nor should you expect him or her to make a major donation. Make your welcome pages inviting by keeping them simple and straightforward.
- Inviting: Create a page on your website designed to target new visitors. It should welcome them to your organization, provide a brief overview of your mission, and contain information relevant to what got them to your site. You’ll want to invite them to engage with your organization on this page as well by encouraging them to sign up for your newsletter.
- Consistent: The website should have a consistent look and feel across all of the pages. Your website should use your branding and should match any email or campaign asset that would have gotten someone there. As evidence of the impact this makes, studies from Network for Good show that nonprofits receive up to seven times more donations through a branded donation page than through adonation page that does not match their website branding. Consistency matters.