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Content Writing • Usability
Web Design • Blogging
Email Marketing • Social Media
The folks who
made this guide

We Build Websites for Nonprofits

We know a website can and should be more than simply a pretty place for
people to see what you do. It should have a meaningful impact on your
organization, such as boosting fundraising, increasing volunteerism, raising
awareness, and serving your community.

We are always looking to help new organizations. If you are interested in

working with us on a project visit us at to
request a proposal.


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When it comes to nonprofit marketing, there’s no
one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every
organization. You have to tailor your approach to fit
your goals, your community and your nonprofit.

And that’s what makes it so much fun.

The following is a collection of posts from our nonprofit

blog all focused on different aspects of marketing.

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Table of Contents Click on any article name to
jump to its page.

Introduction 3

Writing Better Website Content 6

6 Nonprofit-Specific Web Content Tips 7

Better Nonprofit Value Propositions Mean Better Results 12

Using Nonprofit Data to Improve Your Storytelling 17

6 Questions to Ask When Editing Website Content 20

Improving Usability and Design 24

One Question That Leads to Happier Website Visitors 25

Designing Your Nonprofit’s Website Header 30

6 Website Navigation Best Practices 36

Designing Stronger Nonprofit Calls to Action 39

The Basics of Blogging 44

7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Nonprofit Blog 45

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9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your Nonprofit Website 51

Ask Supporters to Blog for Your Nonprofit 56

An Intro to Email Marketing 60

6 Reasons Not to Send Email Newsletters from Your Personal 61

How Often Should Your Nonprofit Send Your Email Newsletter? 65

Segmenting Lists for Your Email Newsletter: Why and How 69

9 Content Ideas for Your Nonprofit Newsletter 73

Getting Started with Social Media 77

How Nonprofits Can Use Facebook Graph Search 78

12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit Should Be Sharing 87

5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers 98

About Wired Impact 105

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Writing Better
Website Content
The content on your nonprofit’s website is a key piece of
your overall marketing. Better content can compel your
visitors to take action, ultimately leading to more donations,
volunteer registrations or engagement with the information
you’re sharing.

Here are a few posts to help you along your journey to

writing dynamite website content.

Articles in this section:

6 Nonprofit-Specific Web Using Nonprofit Data to Improve
Content Tips Your Storytelling

Better Nonprofit Value Propositions 6 Questions to Ask When Editing

Mean Better Results Website Content
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Writing Better Website Content | 6 Nonprofit-Specific Content Tips

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6 Nonprofit-Specific
Content Tips
There are a lot of general best practices when it comes to writing great
website content. You’ve probably heard a bunch of them before. Use short
sentences. Use headings with targeted keywords. Use lists whenever
possible. Drop the jargon. Write how you speak.

These are all generally beneficial when talking about content for nonprofit
websites as well. But there are a few additional tips, aimed specifically at
nonprofits, that can help make your web content stand out.

1. Illustrate Your Impact with First-Person Accounts

As a nonprofit, it’s really important for you to show the impact you’re having in
the community you serve. Utilizing first-person accounts can be a great way
to do so.

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Instead of always filtering the experience of your community through your

own lens, let them tell their own story directly. Use photos. Even better,
use videos. Or ask members of the community to write about their life and
relationship with your nonprofit.

Stories are compelling. Rely on the stories of those in your community.

2. Give Multiple, Specific Ways to Get Involved

You never know how ready a website visitor will be to engage with your
nonprofit. Maybe this is the first time they’ve heard of your organization. Or
maybe they’ve been following you for years and are ready to become a donor.

By giving multiple ways for a visitor to get involved, you can meet them
wherever they’re at.

Here are a few ways to allow visitors to engage with your nonprofit:

• Give a donation

• Sign up for your newsletter

• Follow your nonprofit on social media

• Share your content with a friend

• Sign up to volunteer

• Ask for more information about an upcoming event

• Fill out your contact form

This list is not at all exhaustive, but hopefully provides a solid starting point.

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3. Be Transparent and Build Trust

Building trust is key. When an individual trusts your nonprofit, it stands to
reason they’re much more likely to believe giving you money, time or other
resources is a good idea.

You can use your website content to build trust in a variety of ways:

• Outline Donation Usage – Tell donors specifically how their

donations will be used.

• Show Donation Usage – Show donors how their donations were

ultimately used. And since we’re talking about building trust, this
usage should match what you outlined in the previous step.

• Honestly Represent Volunteer Opportunities – If your volunteers

are going to be cleaning or landscaping, that’s fine. It’s important
work. But explain to potential volunteers why it’s important and be
honest about what they can expect. If a volunteer expects to be
playing with kids and ends up cleaning bathrooms, there’s a good
chance they won’t be signing up to volunteer again anytime soon.

• Share Your Financials – Financial information may not matter to

some website visitors. But it certainly will to others. Make it easy to
find for those that care to look.

A little trust goes a long way when trying to turn website visitors into active

4. Clearly State the Problem

Most nonprofits are aimed at addressing some sort of problem. Make it easy
for visitors to articulate what that problem is all about.

It’s tough to support a cause we don’t really understand. Making the cause
concrete is the first step to connecting your visitor to the work you’re doing.

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And once it’s clear, use emotion to build this connection even further.

5. Establish Your Authority

I’d bet you know a fair amount about the cause you’ve dedicated yourself
to supporting. Showcase this knowledge throughout your website content.
Present your nonprofit as a strong solution to the problem you’ve clearly
outlined. Show you grasp the intricacies of the situation and have thought of
the best ways to address it.

You can establish authority in a bunch of ways, including:

Providing useful resources for those interested in your cause

• Posting detailed blog posts

• Publishing articles about your cause to respected external sources

• Showcasing awards your nonprofit has received

• Sharing testimonials from relevant folks

• Outlining past successes

Boosting your nonprofit’s authority will give increased weight to your words
and ultimately help you cut through the clutter of content swimming across
the web.

6. Inspire Hope
Finally, once you’ve established there’s a problem and set yourself up as an
authority in addressing it, inspire your visitors. Show them that there’s hope.
That the problem may be vast, but every small step in addressing it matters.
That they can be a part of the solution in whatever way feels right to them.
A visitor that shares on Twitter today could blossom into a champion of your

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Writing Better Website Content | 6 Nonprofit-Specific Content Tips

cause or major donor down the road.

Make every action matter. And make sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt,
that your visitors know you value each and every action they take.

Website content for nonprofit websites truly matters. Better website

content means more traffic to your website. It means more interest in your
organization. It means more donors, volunteers and supporters of your
cause. And, ultimately, it means you can do more good in the world.

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Better Nonprofit Value

Propositions Mean
Better Results
It’s a horrible dream that wakes nonprofit marketers up at night. It goes
something like this:

Someone visits your website, reads through the stories of each kid you’ve
helped, then heads to your donation page. They read the page title and the
sentence at the top of the page, and they scroll up and down to see your
entire donation form. Then, even though they’ve spent forty minutes on your
site, they’re gone with one mouse click. No donation, no contact information,
no beginning to a long-lasting relationship.

What I’m talking about here is called “abandonment,” and nonprofit marketers
should do everything they can to minimize the number of people that

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Writing Better Website Content | Better Nonprofit Value Propositions Mean Better Results

abandon their websites prior to taking action. What I want to touch on today
is how we can use a clear value proposition to minimize abandonment and
increase your conversions (the number of people that take action on your

Don’t know what a value proposition is? No problem.

Defining a Value Proposition

The value proposition refers to the benefits a visitor receives for taking action
on your website. It answers the question “what’s in it for me?” for each of your

For example, someone selling running shoes might write on their website,
“Run 5,000 miles with no pain.” That’s a clear benefit to buying those shoes.
When discussing nonprofit value propositions, we usually mean the benefits
to a visitor when they sign up for a newsletter, make a donation or register for
an event.

Examples of Nonprofit Value Propositions

The value propositions on your nonprofit’s website can have a huge impact in
whether visitors take action. Often what I’ve found is that because nonprofits
aren’t selling goods like running shoes or computers, they either don’t spend
much time developing value propositions for their conversions or choose to
leave them out entirely. Let’s take a look at a few examples in more depth.

The Email Newsletter Signup Form

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Almost every nonprofit who sends email newsletters has a form on their
website to sign up. Often, the form looks something like this:

The text “Sign Up For Our E-Newsletter” doesn’t provide an effective value
proposition. Instead, all I know is that I’m giving up my email address in
exchange for an “E-newsletter.” I have no idea what content is going to be
delivered or how often. There may be valuable content, but it takes me a lot
of mental effort to figure out what that might be.

Instead, what if the text read:

“Sign up for monthly news, volunteer opps and stories of our kids”

True, it’s a little longer, but the value is clear. If I’m interested in organizational
news, volunteer opportunities or stories of the kids the organization helped,
I’m much more likely to sign up. Plus, I also know that emails will only be sent
once a month, so I’m not concerned about daily emails hitting my inbox.

If you want to offer very targeted value for your newsletter allow visitors
to sign up for a specific segment, such as your “volunteer opportunities”
segment. That way they’re only getting the information that provides them
the most value.

The Donation Form

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A donation form is another place on nonprofit websites where there is a

ton of opportunity to offer value. It might not be value in the form of goods,
but emotional value is a powerful currency. Let’s take a look at the top of a
donation form I saw recently:

When I see a donation form like this, the value proposition isn’t clear to me.
I have no idea how my donation is going to be used. Will it be used for a
specific program? Will it go to helping mow the lawn outside the office? I
have no way to know.

More than anything, I don’t get immediate emotional value from my

contribution. Now take a look at this donate page from Invisible Children:

Part of the 2nd paragraph reads:

“By choosing to donate to Invisible Children today, you are taking an active
role in efforts to stop Joseph Kony, protect vulnerable communities, bring
abducted soldiers home…”

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The value proposition is clear. If I donate today, I’m helping bring abducted
soldiers home, as well as protect and recover communities.

The best part is all it took was one sentence for a clear, emotional value

What Makes Strong Nonprofit Value Propositions

So what makes a good value proposition for each action on your nonprofit’s

• It’s clear and easy to understand (avoid jargon)

• It’s concrete and describes clear benefits to taking action

• It helps to calm fears and minimize risks (e.g. mentioning that all
donations are processed securely)

• It demonstrates why taking this action with your organization is

better than taking it with a different nonprofit

• It’s short (a headline, couple of sentences and bullet points if


Obviously, the tips above vary depending on the action you want taken. If
you’re trying to write text for an email signup form in your sidebar, a couple of
sentences is going to be too much. Think contextually about the cost for the
visitor to take action (both in time and money), and adjust the length of your
value proposition to match what they have to give up.

Now go optimize your nonprofit’s value propositions and stop waking up in

the middle of the night wondering how many donations you’ve lost.

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Using Nonprofit Data to

Improve Your Storytelling
There’s no shortage of folks touting the importance of effective storytelling. I
should know – I’m one of ‘em.

Although recently I’ve been hearing something that makes my inner data nerd
alarmed. At times it seems that data and storytelling are seen as at odds with
one another. Storytelling is exciting. Data is boring.

But this need not be the case. Effective use of data should make your story
far more compelling.

Data Shows Breadth

In effective storytelling, you generally want to focus on specifics. An individual
person facing a tough situation. A family impacted by your organization. An
event that required your nonprofit to get involved.

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Specifics are easier for us to picture. They help stoke a website visitor’s
emotion, making it more likely your message will resonate and drive them to
take action.

Such things are wonderful. But they’re only half of the equation.

Most people aren’t donating to your organization to help you improve the life
on one single person. They want your organization to have a wide impact.
That’s where data becomes so important.

After you’ve established an emotional connection through storytelling, use

data to show the breadth of not only the problem you’re addressing, but also
your impact. Show that these things aren’t merely isolated to a handful of

A visitor may not be able to picture 100,000 displaced refugees. But if you
detail the experience of a single family displaced from their home, then show
how widespread the problem is by sharing a figure like 100,000, it can be very

And moving your website visitors increases the likelihood they’ll get involved.

Data Shows Accountability

Sharing data effectively throughout your storytelling also shows your
organization has a grasp of the situation. You understand the scope of the
problem you’re addressing since you’ve been able to quantify it. And you
know what impact you and your donors are able to have in the community.

Just like with storytelling, share very specific data points. Tell what an
individual donation will enable you to purchase and, to the best of your ability,
quantify the impact that’ll have in a person’s life.

Maybe you know there are 60,000 people living in a region of a country
without access to clean drinking water. Tell one person’s story, rich with detail

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illuminating the difficulties they face. Then show this problem is widespread
by sharing that 60,000 people in the surrounding area are also struggling in
a similar way. But then share that a $250 donation can bring clean drinking
water to 10 people.

You’ve taken your visitor on a journey using not only storytelling, but also data.

You Must Tell the Story in Your Data

Data is only valuable if you have the necessary context to understand what it

Numbers don’t matter to people in their own right. It’s your job to tell the
story behind the numbers. Tell people why they matter. Show why they’re

To a visitor that doesn’t understand how awful malaria is, the fact that 1 out of
every 20 kids born in a specific community contracts malaria won’t matter all
that much. But to someone with knowledge of the disease and its impact on
these kids’ lives, such stats can be heartbreaking.

Give your visitors the context they need to understand your data.

Be Picky with Your Data

All too often website visitors are drowned in data. It’s appealing after you
come up with a whole bunch of exciting data to dump it all into a long blog
post. But avoid that temptation.

Instead, pick out the data that’s most poignant, package it effectively with
complementary stories rich in context, and share it all in a way that’s easy to

By using data as a tool in your storytelling, you can boost its effectiveness

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6 Questions to Ask When

Editing Website Content
Perfecting website content is often one of the hardest parts of overhauling
or totally remaking a site. It feels good when you’ve developed a website
structure you’re excited about and have written plenty of words for each
page. But are they the right words that will appeal to your website visitors and
convey what you’d like? That can be a tough question to answer.

Fret not, woeful writer of web content (yeah, that’s you). Here are a few
question you can ask yourself to help polish up that website content.

1. Can I Cut This?

Instead of approaching everything from the standpoint of “do I need
this?” try reframing your thinking to favor cutting out anything that’s not
essential. If you think in terms of “do I need this?” the answer will often be a
resounding affirmative. But if you instead focus on removal of any unessential

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information, you’ll be left with only the best.

Every additional piece of information you include demands some amount of

attention. Make sure you’re not risking something extraneous distracting from
what’s essential.

2. Can I Break This Section Up?

Whenever possible, break pages into sections. Break sections into
paragraphs. Break paragraphs into sentences separated by explanatory
headings and subheadings.

Strive to use headings wherever you can reasonably do so. You and the most
cooperative of your colleagues may read your content in full. Most readers
will skim at most. Keep sections short and make sure everything in each
section matches the corresponding heading.

3. Can I Create a List?

Skimmers love lists. They’re easy to read and make content readily digestible.
If your list has a specific order or quantity to it, use a numbered list. If it
doesn’t, go with a bulleted list. Doing so will help make your content easier to
scan and force you to use a certain amount of brevity.

4. Will Everyone Know This Word?

If you use any words that require you to ponder whether someone outside
of your industry will know it, change the word right away. Chances are high
you’re using jargon without even being aware of it. We do this everyday,
especially when explaining what it is we do for a living. People are not going
to look up words they don’t know. They’re either going to guess what it
means or leave.

It can be helpful to have an outsider read your content at this point. Pick
someone honest enough to tell you words they don’t know or sections that
are confusing. And remind them you’re looking for their honesty. It doesn’t

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do you any good if they tell you your content is perfect (outside of that short
term ego boost from being crowned the unofficial poet laureate of the web
world). A little critical feedback can be the difference between entirely
mediocre and very strong website content.

5. Will Search Engines Know What This Page Is About?

Search engines aren’t great at reading between the lines. They crawl
throughout your pages, looking for information to tip them off as to what
the page is about. Make it easy on them by using keywords repeatedly
throughout your page content. Think of what someone would type into
Google to find your page and use that phrase a few times.

As a general rule, try to use your keyword phrases at least three times on the
page. Not only is it better for search, it’s also better for your readers. Some of
them may not read between the lines all that well either.

6. Does This Sound Like I’m Talking?

We write in bizarre ways. We often use long sentences with complex
structure and shiny words to showcase our smarts. Such tactics are great in a
term paper. They’re far less effective when it comes to web copy.

Read all of your content, slowly and aloud. If you’re worried about the
judgment of others (as I often am at this point in the process), go somewhere
private. This is an incredibly valuable step in the editing process and is worth
doing right.

See if your content sounds natural. It should sound just like you’re talking
to someone. Keep it conversational. Use simple sentences that are easy to
understand without the help of inflection or further explanation. You know
what you mean. But you need to make sure your visitors will as well.

And don’t worry – you can still be professional while making your content
accessible. There’s a time and a place for formality. Web content is generally
not such an occasion. If you’re trying to establish a connection with your

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visitors, being overly formal likely isn’t the best route to take.

Do What Feels Right

Ultimately, the goal of your website content is to genuinely convey your
organization and help you connect with visitors in some way. Write honest
copy and do what feels right to you.

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Improving Usability
and Design
Usability means ensuring your website visitors are able
to use your site to accomplish whatever they’re trying
to do. More simply, it’s making sure your site is easy to
use. Strong usability and design can combine to turn
a website that’s merely pretty into a site that inspires
visitors to take action.

The following posts cover how you can leverage usability

and design to keep your visitors satisfied and convert
more visitors into supporters of your organization.

Articles in this section:

One Question That Leads to 6 Website Navigation Best
Happier Website Visitors Practices

Designing Your Nonprofit’s Website Designing Stronger Nonprofit Calls

Header to Action
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One Question That Leads

to Happier Website Visitors
This post is not a magic bullet nor is it hugely revolutionary. It’s just not. But
by asking yourself one deceptively-simple question you can help create
website visitors that are far happier:

Do my visitors know what to expect?

I know – you’ve heard similar things before. But stay with me for a second
longer. We all know we should clearly manage our visitors’ expectations,
but how often do you visit a website that fails to do so? They’re everywhere.
By approaching every aspect of your website with a moderately obsessive
fixation on this one question, you can put your site vastly above the majority of
websites out there.

First we’ll briefly cover why clear expectations matter. Then we’ll move into

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Improving Usability and Design | One Question That Leads to Happier Website Visitors

concrete ways you can articulate expectations to your website visitors.

Why Clear Expectations Matter

Your website visitors likely already care about what you’re doing. They did
wind up on your site after all. Now it’s up to you to tell them what you do and
why you matter in a way that keeps them happy.

Expectations Help Minimize Frustration

If your visitors know what to expect (and you honestly deliver on what you’ve
said you will), there’s less of a chance they’ll end up annoyed. And that’s
certainly a good thing. Would a visitor expect to be able to find certain
information? Display it. Would a visitor expect to be able to click on a certain
piece of text? Either change the design or make it clickable.

Align your decisions about everything from design to content with what your
visitors will expect.

Expectations Remove Fear of Giving Personal Information

If you’re asking visitors for any kind of personal information, it’s a good idea to
tell them how you’ll use it. If you don’t mention what you’re going to do with
personal info, you probably won’t get much of it.

How to Make Expectations Clearer

There are numerous ways you can clearly convey expectations to website
visitors, but the following are a handful of user actions that show up frequently
on nonprofit websites that are worth keeping in mind.

Submitting a Contact Form

If a user is submitting a contact form, tell them the following:

• How You’ll Use Info – If you’re collecting personal info, tell your
users how you’ll use it. Many users will want to know they won’t
end up on a mailing list because they submitted your contact form.

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• How You’ll Follow Up – Some users will want to know how and
when you’ll follow up with them. If you can commit to a follow up
plan (like an emailed response within one business day) it can be
beneficial to put details on your contact form.

Signing Up for an Email Newsletter

If a visitor is committing to receive your email newsletter, you should consider
including details on the following:

• How Often You’ll Email – Give your user an idea of how often they
can expect to see your name pop up in their inbox. Doing so gives
them fair warning what they’re in for and will help avoid a situation
where you’re sending far more messages than they want to read.

• Type of Emails to Expect – If a user loves your blog and expects

to receive articles in their inbox there’s a reasonable chance that
a steady diet of product pitches will upset them. And upset users
complain to others and unsubscribe from your mailing list.

• How You’ll Use Info – Again, since you’re collecting personal info,
let them know what you’re up to. You should also have a clear
Privacy Policy that goes into more detail.

Making a Donation
If a user has decided to support your nonprofit by making a donation, make it
a point to tell them the following:

• How Often They’ll Hear From You – If you’re going to send donors a
slew of direct mailers and emails, be honest and tell them to expect
it. You don’t want donors to regret their decision to give because
you won’t stop pestering them. Bonus points if you allow donors
to choose how frequently they’d like to hear from you (assuming
of course you actually honor their wishes – otherwise you get no
bonus points).

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• How They’ll Know Their Impact – Many donors want to know the
impact they’ve enabled your organization to make. Either before a
donor has made a contribution or as you thank them for doing so,
make it clear how a donor can find out the impact they’ve had.

• Progress in the Donation Process – If your donation process spans

multiple pages, be sure to give some sort of indication to your
user how close they are to completion. You don’t want a user to
abandon the process because they don’t know how long it is.

• How You’ll Use Info – Tell donors what you’ll do with the information
you’re collecting.

Signing Up to Volunteer
If a visitor is at the point where they’re willing to give their time to help your
organization, you should tell them the following:

• Honestly What Volunteers Will Be Doing – Note the “honestly.”

Some organizations will slightly misrepresent their volunteer
opportunities in an effort to make them more appealing to
volunteers. Don’t do this. It will inevitably disappoint your
volunteers when they expect to play with kids and wind up sorting
clothing. Volunteers aren’t looking for a party; they’re looking to
make a difference. Disappointed volunteers generally don’t give
their time again in the future.

• How You’ll Use Info – I know it’s repetitive, but this point is just that
important. If you’re collecting info, tell your visitor how you’ll use it.

Filling Out a Survey

Many nonprofits use surveys to gather feedback from the community, which
is an excellent idea. But many organizations don’t establish expectations
with potential respondents, which is decidedly less excellent. Here are some
points to cover:

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• How Long the Survey Will Take – Halving the amount of time you
claim a survey will take isn’t “bending the truth,” it’s lying. And it
will likely frustrate your respondents. Be honest and give users a
reasonable ballpark of how long a survey will take.

• Progress Towards Completion – Give your respondents some way

to gauge their progress towards the end of your survey. This will
help by not only showing how much survey is remaining, but also
reminding them what they’ve accomplished. If you don’t and a
user gets tired of your survey, they’ll either give hasty answers or
abandon it altogether.

• How You’ll Use Data – Tell respondents how you’ll use their data
and if they can expect to see it shared (likely in aggregate form) at
any point.

• How You’ll Use Info – I know, you get it. Tell users how you’ll use
their personal info.

When it comes to usability and keeping your visitors happy, a bit of

forethought goes a very long way.

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Designing Your Nonprofit’s

Website Header
Your nonprofit’s website header will be seen on every page. It contains your
site’s most important information, brands your organization and shows your
user where to go and how to get there. With all these moving parts, it’s hard to
know where to put what.

But have no fear. We’re here to discuss how to juggle these elements to
create a streamlined, easy-to-use header.

Playing Into User Expectations

Web conventions are practices that have been adopted over time to form
what users “expect” when visiting a site. Considering your website visitors’
expectations will help you better serve their needs and provide them with a
better experience on your site.

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Optimizing your site’s header to align with user’s expectations will dramatically
improve its ease of use. And since the navigation in the header will be the
way the vast majority of your visitors find content on your website, ensuring
ease of use is pretty important.

A Website Header Template

Here is a template sketch of a conventional layout for a header containing
a horizontal navigation. This template should not be taken as a set of hard
rules, but rather as guidelines to those web conventions I mentioned above.

As you will see in many of our examples, it’s possible to deviate from
convention and still serve your user. But you must first know the conventions
before you can get away with breaking them.
Now that we have a template to work off of, let’s talk about some of these
elements individually.

A longstanding web convention is to place your logo in the top left corner
and to link it to your home page. This practice has become such an expected
convention that according to one report up to 63% of the top 500 sites no
longer use a home page link in their navigation.

I hesitate to fully stand by the practice of stripping out your home link in your
navigation since some users may still want to see it there. But clearly you
should be making your logo a link to your home page.

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Main Navigation
Your main navigation is where you provide easily accessible links to your top-
level pages. A site’s main navigation is traditionally organized in one of two
ways: as a horizontal bar in the header at the top of the page or as a stacked
vertical bar along the side of the page.

If using a horizontal layout, the navigation should be placed at the bottom of

your header. This placement within the header has become expected from
web users. By placing it as the closest element in the header to the page
content, you visually group the navigation with the pages to which it links.

If you’re really interested in this stuff, we wrote up a whole post on website

navigation best practices.

Shedd Aquarium Example

The Shedd Aquarium’s header features a nice illustration and uses a unique
shape and creative colors for the main navigation. This header has a very
original look but it is built upon a very conventional structure. The logo is in
the top left corner and the main navigation runs across the bottom of the

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Improving Usability and Design | Designing Your Nonprofit’s Website Header

Search Bar
A search bar is a must for any larger site. The placement of the search bar is
one of the most flexible elements of your header design. The important thing
to consider here is giving it enough space to hold its own in your star-studded

While I could write a whole post on search bars (and perhaps will in the near
future), suffice it to say the most important thing is to make it easy to find and
use. Making it easy to find and use will provide the best experience to your
visitors. And that’s really what it’s all about.

World Food Programme

The World Food Programme placed its search bar at the very top of its header.
It is a good distance away from the utilities on the left as well as the donate
button on the right.

Utilities links allow your users to quickly travel to different functionalities’
pages throughout your website. Examples of these include “my account” “sign
in” or “view my cart” links. These should be placed above the main navigation.

Take care to make this navigation less visually prominent than your main

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Improving Usability and Design | Designing Your Nonprofit’s Website Header

navigation. Utility links are for those who need them, but your main navigation
is for everyone. You want to avoid a situation where your utilities are
competing with your main navigation for visitor attention.

Making your utilities less prominent insures that the viewer feels comfortable
exploring your site without having to log into an account or perform some
other action.

Feeding America Example

The Feeding America site, for example, tucks away its utility page, “sign into
my account” into the top right of the header next to the email sign up. The text
for this link is smaller than that used in the main navigation.

Donate Button
Designing and positioning a donate button is an art of its own. What is most
important is that it stands out and that it is consistently placed. The top right
side of the header has become a go-to spot for donate buttons because of its
visibility. For a detailed account on things to consider, I recommend reading
our post on donate button best practices.

Boys and Girls Clubs of America Example

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America places their donate button in an optimal
location that’s easy to find with only a quick scan. In case you somehow miss
it, they’ve also made the button bright orange.

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Improving Usability and Design | Designing Your Nonprofit’s Website Header

Your Nonprofit’s Header

Hopefully this has left you with guidelines for your header design. Remember,
when designing your header, user expectation is key.

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6 Website Navigation
Best Practices
A visitor has landed on your website in search of something. Navigation is
often the guide to what it is your visitor seeks. Something as simple as word
choice can be the difference between a visitor finding what they’re looking for
or leaving in frustration.

Effective navigation can facilitate a fruitful visit and increase the likelihood of
a return visit in the future. Ineffective navigation can lead to an unproductive
visit and feelings of frustration, which don’t generally bode well for a return

Here are six best practices to bear in mind as you think about the navigation
for your website.

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Improving Usability and Design | 6 Website Navigation Practices

1. Avoid Jargon in Website Navigation

Remember, your website navigation is not for you – it’s for your visitor. Don’t
use language that only insiders will understand. If you’re unsure whether or
not someone will know what you mean, try rewording it.

This is also a great time to ask for second opinions. Solicit feedback from
people that aren’t as familiar with your industry about the type of content
they’d expect to find if they clicked a certain part of your navigation. Such
feedback can be enlightening.

2. Use Common Page Names in Website Navigation

As Louis Lazaris highlights in a post on Smashing Magazine, it’s important to
align your navigation with the expectations of your visitors. Navigation is not
a time to get overly creative with your word choice (design is another matter
altogether). The goal is to provide users with a structured way to find what it
is they’re looking for on your website.

Use common page names in your navigation, like:

• About Us

• Contact

• Blog

• Portfolio

• Products

• Donate

If you’re going to deviate from the norm, make sure it’s evident what a user
can expect to find in each portion of your website.

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Improving Usability and Design | 6 Website Navigation Practices

3. Keep It Short
Sum up what information a visitor will find in a word or two. You don’t have
much real estate in the navigation bar. And your users don’t have much
patience. Be succinct.

4. Use Dropdown Menus in Your Navigation

If the pages in your navigation have subpages, you should include dropdown
menus. Dropdown menus allow users to scan the different types of content in
each section of your website without unnecessarily clicking through the pages
of your site. By getting a feel for the content in each section, a user can make
a more informed prediction as to where the content they seek resides within
your site.

5. Make All Menu Items Clickable

If an item is in your navigation, make sure it’s clickable. For instance, even
if you have an “Our Mission” page in a dropdown under “About” in your
navigation, a visitor should be able to click on the “About” page if they’re so

Going back to expectations, most users will expect these items to be clickable
since they’re in your navigation.

Striving to meet visitor expectations whenever possible will lead to a much

better user experience throughout your website.

6. Make Your Logo Take a User Home

There’s a good chance your website has a logo in the upper left. Make sure
your logo is clickable and takes a user back to your homepage. This is a
common convention and many visitors to your website will expect it to be the

Such simple improvements to your website’s navigation can have an impact

on the overall experience a user has on your website.

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Designing Stronger
Nonprofit Calls to Action
When your nonprofit decides to build a site, you should have certain goals in
mind. This could be boosting fundraising, increasing volunteerism or any other
number of mission-driven aims.

You could have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it isn’t helping
your organization achieve your goals it’s not benefitting you as much as it
could be. Generally you’ll want your visitors to be taking meaningful action
throughout your nonprofit’s website.

And that’s where strong calls to action come into play.

What is a Call to Action?

Calls to action are what prompt your website visitors to take certain beneficial

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Improving Usability and Design | Designing Stronger Nonprofit Calls to Action

actions on your website. They are the stepping-stones between a visitor being
a passive viewer and becoming invested enough in your mission to take
action. On the web this can happen with a single click.

Some common calls to action for nonprofits are “Donate,” “Take action,”
“Register to volunteer,” “Contact us,” and “Learn more.” The layout and design
of these call to action buttons can greatly affect the impact of your site.

Examples of Great Call to Action Design Practices

On your nonprofit’s site, you’re likely trying to communicate a lot with your site
visitors: what you do, who you are, why it matters, how to help etc. You may
also be sharing a lot of photos, videos, stories, resources and on and on.

However, on every page there should be at least one thing that you drive
your visitor to do. Ultimately there should be a call to action button (“Donate,”
“Volunteer,” “Sign Up” etc.) that you want them to click.

Here are some examples of practices nonprofit’s are using to engage their
visitors and make their calls to action stand out.

Make it big, colorful, and easy to see

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Improving Usability and Design | Designing Stronger Nonprofit Calls to Action

Shining Hope for Communities, a provider of education to girls in Kibera,

Kenya, has a clear call to action to “Donate Today.” They have achieved the
ultimate goal when it comes to designing their call to action by making it stand
out. It is very visible because of its size, brightness and placement at the top
of the page. The color selection of bright green helps it stand out against the
primarily orange, white and gray page.

Identify your most important call to action

As the largest independent direct-action environmental organization in the

world, Greenpeace is a great example of a nonprofit with many website goals.
Here you can see that their sidebar is full of call to action buttons and links.
However, Greenpeace has done a great job of letting one call to action rise
above the rest. By coloring it orange and positioning it next to a compelling
photo, Greenpeace has identified “Donate Today” as its most important call to

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Why should you identify your most important call to action?

Believe it or not, users presented with too many options will often end up
not choosing anything at all. This is a phenomenon called analysis paralysis.
The way to fight this tendency is to feature one option over the rest. This also
lets you clearly express to the unknowing visitor how they can best help your

Provide steps

If you have a more involved vision in mind for your website visitors, take
a page out of Gasland’s book and provide a series of call to action steps.
Gasland is a film campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the environ-
mental dangers of natural gas extraction processes. By laying out their calls
to action in a step-by-step process they show their visitors how many different
ways they can have an impact. Sometimes people just want to know where to

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Key Takeaways
These are just a few examples of ways to empower your visitors and
accomplish your nonprofit’s goals. Keep in mind that the cardinal rule of call to
action design is to make it stand out. You can accomplish this by making it big,
bright, and easy to see. You can also help your visitors choose between calls
to action by highlighting your most important call or by breaking them down
into steps. With these takeaways and a little of your own creativity, you should
be ready to compel your website visitors into action!

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The Basics of
Blogging is getting a lot of attention these days. Given the
benefits it can have for your website and your nonprofit,
that’s understandable.

A blog has the potential to drive a lot of traffic to your

nonprofit’s site as well as provide a ton of beneficial
information to your visitors. But there’s a lot to consider
before you dive into publishing your first post.
Here are a few articles to get you going.

Articles in this section:

7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Ask Supporters to Blog for Your

Nonprofit Blog Nonprofit

9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your

Nonprofit Website

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7 Questions to Ask When

Starting a Nonprofit Blog
Deciding to start a blog is no minor feat. In fact, if you’re ready to set one up,
I’m sure you’ve debated whether or not your nonprofit should have a blog in
the first place.

If you’re reading this post, I’ll assume you decided to take a shot at a blog.
Well congrats! Blogging can be a lot of fun. But it’s also a lot of work. It’s
my hope this post will help lay the foundation for your nonprofit to have a
successful blog.

When you’re first starting out, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following

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The Basics of Blogging | 7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Nonprofit Blog

1. What’s the Point of Your Blog?

Before ever putting pen to paper (because “finger to keyboard” hasn’t really
caught on as a saying) it’s important to figure out the point. What do you hope
to gain from having a blog? You’re not simply writing for the sake of writing.
What do you hope to accomplish?

Asking such a question will help identify the purpose of having a blog. It can
also help influence some of the decisions you make about your blog.

Here are a few sample purposes, but yours may be totally different:

• “We want to share the impact we’re having in the community we


• “We want to raise awareness around our volunteer opportunities and


• “We want to attract new supporters to get involved in various ways.”

Identifying a purpose will also help you ultimately measure the success of your
blog. As sexy as they seem, keep in mind pageviews are simply a means to an
end. It doesn’t much matter if people read your blog if it doesn’t produce any
tangible benefit for your nonprofit.

You should be measuring the success of your blog with metrics that align
to your purpose for starting it. For instance, if your goal is to attract new
supporters, you’ll likely want to measure the number of new donors and
volunteers that entered your website through your blog.

2. Who Do You Want to Read Your Blog?

Once you have a purpose, it’s time to identify the audience. Who are you
writing for? Be as specific as you possibly can. Your focus on an audience will
have an impact on:

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The Basics of Blogging | 7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Nonprofit Blog

• Tone: You’ll want to write your posts with your audience in mind.
You’ll probably use a different tone to engage teens as you would to
connect with doctors.

• Topics: To drive interest, you’ll need to choose topics that are likely to
resonate with your audience.

• Promotion: Knowing your audience can help you promote your

posts in ways that are likely to resonate with them, ultimately driving
more traffic to each post. For instance, a Tweet from Justin Bieber
will probably get you further with middle schoolers than it will with

Whenever you’re making a decision, you can think about what a stereotypical
member of your audience would want to see. Catering to such an imaginary
community member, while perhaps a bit bizarre, can help you make decisions
that benefit your target audience.

3. What Questions Do Your Readers Have?

This step is huge.

This step is where your nonprofit’s blog will start to take shape. Once you’ve
identified the audience for your blog, it’s time to really dive into the minds of
these imaginary audience members.

Think about what questions people often have (or may potentially have) about
your organization. These questions will ultimately form the basis for some of
your first blog posts. Don’t worry about grouping them or judging them at this
point. There’s plenty of time to do that later.

Come at these questions from different angles. For instance, what questions
might someone ask about:

• Your organization?

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• The community you serve?

• The impact you’re having in the world?

• How to get involved with your organization?

• The type of work you do?

• The people that work for your nonprofit?

• The city you’re working in?

• The relevant legislation that impacts your organization or your


I’m sure you’re asked questions all the time about your nonprofit. Write them all
down at this point. And come up with as many as you can. The more you think
of now, the better foundation you’ll lay for later.

4. How Can You Group These Questions?

It’s now time to start grouping the questions you just finished writing. These
groupings will eventually form the categories for your blog.

Think of categories as the table of contents for your blog. They’re the big,
broad subjects that you’ll write about often. We’ve written before about making
blog categories useful, but here’s a quick overview:

• Make Categories Descriptive: A reader should have a good idea of

the type of content to expect in a category without much explanation.

• Cut the Jargon: Don’t fill your categories with jargon. If your reader
doesn’t know what a category means, it does them no good.

• Limit the Number: The point of categories is to help a reader find

content they’ll likely find interesting. They don’t do much good if you

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The Basics of Blogging | 7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Nonprofit Blog

have 30 of them and your readers have to hunt for something relevant.
There’s no magic number, but the fewer the better (we try to limit it to
under 10 if possible).

• Avoid Overlap: You wouldn’t have two chapters in a book that are
remarkably similar. The same holds true for blog categories. Make
them different enough so as not to confuse your reader.

• Never Use “Uncategorized”: Some blogging platforms set the default

category to “uncategorized.” You should change this to something like
“Miscellaneous.” It helps your blog look more polished. We’ve written
a tutorial on how you can do this in WordPress.

• Think Long-Term: The goal here is to come up with the backbone

of your blog – categories you’ll be able to fill with content well into
the future. When you create a category, make sure you’ll be able to
continue to produce content within that category in the long run.

Once you have your categories outlined, try to avoid the urge to create new
ones as you write fresh posts. It’s okay if you must in rare circumstances, but
your posts should fit your categories, not the other way around.

5. What Specific Topics Are You Writing About?

So you’ve outlined the broad subjects that are forming the categories. Now dive
into the specifics. What recurring specific topics are you seeing in your list of

These specifics will become the tags that you use on your blog. To continue the
metaphor started above, if categories are your table of contents, tags are the
index in the back of the book. Readers will use your tags to reference a very
specific piece of information within your blog.

For example, we have a category for Social Media, but individual tags for
Facebook and Twitter. If someone is looking for general info on using social
media, they can use the category to browse. If instead they’re looking for tips
on using Facebook specifically, they can use the tag to drilldown to information

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more likely to match their interest.

6. How Often Can You Reasonably Publish?

Alright, you’re almost ready to start writing. But first, take a deep breath. It’s
time to get realistic.

Before jumping into writing, be honest with yourself. How much can you really
write? Chances are blogging isn’t your full-time gig. Maybe you’re pulling
marketing and development responsibilities, helping plan an upcoming event,
coordinating some volunteers, prepping the upcoming newsletter and running
all those social media accounts.

Don’t commit to writing daily blog posts if you won’t be able to do it (or do it
well). Publishing one good post a week is fine. It’s much better than publishing
daily for two weeks and then taking a three-month hiatus.

Start with something you’ll be able to maintain. You can always up the frequency

7. How Will You Promote Your Posts?

I promise you can start actually writing after this one.
You’re not writing for yourself though. That’s a diary. You need to drive
potentially interested people to your blog. In this regard, a bit of forethought
about promotion can go a long way.

Tap into the channels you already have established. Maybe you’re huge on
social media. Or you have a great email newsletter. Or a wonderful, engaged
base of donors. Use these all to drive targeted traffic to your blog.

And now my friend you are free to write. Pick a few topics and write ‘em up.
As you do, revel in the fact you’ve planned what you’re doing and are ready to
successfully roll out a blog that will help your nonprofit do more of the good stuff
you’re already doing in the community.

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9 Ways a Blog Can Help

Your Nonprofit Website
You’ve likely heard plenty of times how beneficial a blog can be. But you’ve
also probably experienced, or at least caught wind of how significant an
undertaking starting a blog can be.

It’s no lie that launching and maintaining a blog can take a lot of time and
energy. But it can also boost the effectiveness of your website in a wide
variety of ways.

Here are some of the most significant benefits your nonprofit can gain from
including a blog on your website.

1. Establish Your Authority

It’s important you establish your organization as an authority in your field.
Doing so will build credibility, helping you to develop trust with website visitors.

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The Basics of Blogging | 9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your Nonprofit Website

A blog is a great way to establish your authority. You can write articles on all
facets of your organization’s interests, showing you have a wide breadth of
knowledge when it comes to the work you do.

2. Connect with Potential Supporters

Forming connections with potential supporters increases the likelihood they’ll
ultimately decide to support your nonprofit. But every visitor is different,
which makes connecting with them a pretty daunting task.

A blog is wonderful because it allows you to take a variety of approaches

when it comes to connecting. Here are a few potential types of content that
may appeal to different visitors on your nonprofit’s website:

• Informational articles aimed at those interested in your cause

• Emotional stories about the impact you’re having in the world

• Data showcasing your nonprofit’s effectiveness

• First person accounts from donors and volunteers on why they

support you

• Analysis of the problem your organization is tackling

• Photos or videos paired with text detailing any relevant backstory

• Recaps of past events

• Links to helpful resources

These are just a few of the ways you can potentially leverage your blog to
appeal to a wide variety of website visitors.

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The Basics of Blogging | 9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your Nonprofit Website

3. Maintain Relationships with Past Supporters

Many nonprofits make it a priority to maintain relationships with past
supporters. A blog is a perfect place to facilitate this effort.

Ask past supporters to write guest posts outlining why they support your
organization. If done well, such posts can be a great way to engage
your supporters. Not only will the folks you ask feel appreciated by the
opportunity, but it’s also likely they’ll share their post with others, helping to
raise awareness of your nonprofit.

Doing so also sends a message to your supporters that you value their
voice as a member of your community. Showing you care about what your
supporters have to say can go a long way.

4. Build Trust by Sharing Your Impact

We talk about the importance of effectively sharing your nonprofit’s impact
often. But that’s because it’s just that important. Sharing your impact helps
build trust among website visitors. It shows your organization is a solution
to the problem you’re addressing. It makes your work seem important and
valuable, increasing the likelihood visitors will lend their support.

A blog is an excellent way to show your impact. Share videos. Share photos.
Share stories from the community. Share the benefits of a specific program or

Even if your organization does work on the other side of the world, you can
show visitors the impact you’re having. Sharing this type of information helps
make your impact more concrete for visitors. And when a visitor can easily
picture how their involvement will benefit the world, they’re far more likely to
help out in some way.

5. Distribute Information to Your Community

Some nonprofits use their websites as a vehicle to share information with the
community. A blog can be a great way to do just that.

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The Basics of Blogging | 9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your Nonprofit Website

Write articles aimed squarely at the community you serve. This will look
different based on your nonprofit’s mission. For a nonprofit aimed at boosting
childhood literacy, maybe it’s a post on educational resources. For an
organization working to raise money for medical research, it could be a review
of a clinical trial or new drug. For a nonprofit dedicated to combating obesity,
perhaps it’s a healthy recipe for an upcoming holiday.

A blog can become a valuable resource when it comes to disseminating

information to the community you serve.

6. Drive More Traffic from Search Engines

A blog can have tremendous benefits when it comes to search engine
optimization. While the technical details behind this benefit could easily fill a
post all its own, it’s important to recognize a blog can help your nonprofit drive
more traffic to your site from search engines.

The main reason is because a blog allows you to write very specific posts that
likely wouldn’t warrant their own pages on your website. By writing about
a wide variety of topics related to your mission, you are creating a wealth of
content for search engines to find and show in search results. This increases
the likelihood that a web surfer will find your website.

Blogs also allow you to produce fresh content, which visitors and search
engines love. It helps keep your website from becoming stale.

7. Create Content for Sharing on Social Media

Blog content is also highly shareable. By producing posts your audience will
find useful, you increase the likelihood visitors will share your content via
social media.

And more social sharing means more traffic to your website, which will raise
awareness and help to ultimately bring new supporters into your community.

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The Basics of Blogging | 9 Ways a Blog Can Help Your Nonprofit Website

8. Provide Visitors an Opportunity to Engage by Commenting

Website engagement is a good thing. When a visitor takes an action to
engage on your website (such as signing up for a newsletter, submitting a
contact form or sharing via social media) it means they’re interested in what
you’re doing.

Commenting on your blog is an additional way a website visitor can engage

with your organization. Comments can also spark interesting conversations
about the topics you cover.

As a quick note, make sure you respond to commenters on your blog. You
never know when a commenter that has a good experience will become an
impassioned supporter of your cause.

9. Give People a Reason to Check Your Website

Chances are you’d like visitors to come back to your website periodically.
A repeat visit demonstrates a certain level of interest in your nonprofit and
keeps your organization top of mind.

A blog is a great way to drive visitors back to your nonprofit’s website. New,
interesting content will give visitors a reason to come back to your site time
and time again.

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Ask Supporters to Blog

for Your Nonprofit
Most of the organizations we talk to believe in the benefits of having a blog.
The issue is rarely why they should have a blog. It’s more often a matter of
how they can find time to maintain it.

Like many organizations, nonprofits are often strapped for spare time. And
while a blog can seem like a great idea, we often see it fall into that “nice to
have” category instead of something that’s deemed vital.

But maintaining a blog can be a significant boost to the success of your

nonprofit’s website. By tapping into the support network you’ve developed,
you can ask longtime supporters to write content that is not only valuable to
your website visitors, but also takes the burden of content creation off of you
and your staff.

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The Basics of Blogging | Ask Supporters to Blog for Your Nonprofit

Why Ask Supporters to Blog?

There are a variety of reasons you should consider asking supporters to write
for your blog:

• Increase Your Reach. A guest author on your blog is likely to share

the post with their friends and connections, thus exposing your
nonprofit to a new audience.

• Offer a New Perspective. A supporter can offer the unique

perspective of someone that’s decided to support your cause but
doesn’t work for your organization.

• Cover Unique Topics. Your supporters are better equipped to write

about certain topics that could be very interesting to other potential
supporters of your cause. For more on topic ideas, see below.

• Show You Value Your Supporters. By asking a supporter to write

for your blog, you’re clearly demonstrating to them and readers that
you care what they have to say.

• Save Time. You can focus on editing. Your supporter can tackle
actually creating the content.

Potential Topics for Supporters to Write About

While not at all a comprehensive list of potential topics, here are some ideas
for you to consider.

From Your Donors

Your donors can help to provide insight that will resonate with those that
are deciding whether on not to financially support your nonprofit. Honesty
can go a long way here. Chances are even your most loyal donor had some
apprehension at first but ultimately decided to support your cause. Such
openness may help your organization connect with potential donors.

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The Basics of Blogging | Ask Supporters to Blog for Your Nonprofit

Potential topics from your donors include:

• Why I decided to donate originally

• Why I’ve continued to donate

• How my donations have been used

• Why I think this organization is different than others

• When I realized I cared about this cause

• My advice for potential donors

• How I know I’m making a difference

From Your Volunteers

Your volunteers can be hugely helpful in recruiting additional volunteers for
future events. Hearing in-depth accounts directly from volunteers can help to
convince potential volunteers to give their time to a cause they believe in.

Potential topics from your volunteers include:

• Why I give my time to help this organization

• Why volunteers matter in this community

• My favorite volunteer event I’ve attended

• How I plan to support this cause in the future

• A particularly powerful moment I’ve had while volunteering

• When I realized I cared about this cause

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The Basics of Blogging | Ask Supporters to Blog for Your Nonprofit

• What I’ve learned by volunteering

• What this organization does well and what they could do better

From Your Event Attendees

Event attendees can help garner support for your future events as well as
reflect on successes from past events.

Potential topics from your event attendees include:

• My favorite event I’ve attended

• Why I’d likely attend a future event

• My key takeaways from attending an event

• Why I decided to attend an event

• What makes these events unique

The Key is to Get Personal

The key to creating an impactful post from a supporter is to make sure they
get personal. The more specific they get, the better the post will be. Instead
of writing how much fun volunteering can be, have them write about one
child they spent an afternoon with. Instead of writing about how great your
nonprofit is, have them write about the moment they decided to overcome
their apprehension and donate for the first time.

The success of such a post hinges on the intimacy the author brings to
the piece.

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An Intro to Email
Email marketing allows you to develop a relationship over time
with those interested in your nonprofit.

When someone first visits your website, they likely won’t be

ready to make a donation. They’re still learning about who you
are and what you do. At this point they’re likely far more willing
to sign up for your newsletter. And, if you deliver meaningful
content on a regular basis, eventually these visitors may become
volunteers, donors and supporters of your organization.

The following posts should help get you started with email

Articles in this section:

6 Reasons Not to Send Email Segmenting Lists for Your Email
Newsletters from Your Personal Newsletter: Why and How
9 Content Ideas for Your Nonprofit
How Often Should Your Nonprofit Newsletter
Send Your Email Newsletter?
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6 Reasons Not to Send

Email Newsletters from
Your Personal Account
It might seem like an easier way to communicate with the people involved and
interested in your nonprofit. It might seem like a personal touch. However,
you should never send your nonprofit’s email newsletters from your personal
email account. And here are six very important reasons why not.

1. Risk of Being Labeled a Spammer

Spam emails are those that are both unsolicited and sent in bulk. So, naturally
some of the warning signs that email services look for when filtering for spam
are if the email was sent from a previously unknown address or if it was one
of many identical emails sent out to a long list of recipients. The first time you
send out your email newsletter to a new subscriber, your message might fall

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into both of these categories.

Spam filters are also more likely to send up red flags for public domain names
(like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail). This means that your personal email account
(like has a higher chance of being marked as spam
than a dedicated email account with your nonprofit’s domain name (like jim@

The biggest concern here is that if people start marking you as spam, the
deliverability of your emails from this email address will suffer. Not only email
newsletters, but all emails. So those emails you send all day every day may
start going straight to spam folders instead of your intended recipients.

All in all, sending newsletter emails in bulk from your personal account means
you have a much greater chance of being marked as a spammer. And getting
labeled a spammer by a large email service will mean that your emails will
not be delivered to that email service, at least until the confusion is sorted
out. This will be bad news for both your nonprofit’s and your personal

2. Risk of Breaking the Law

Sending business emails from your personal account might not only get you
marked as a spammer. It also might put you in danger of breaking the law.
In 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act was passed, setting a series of restrictions and
expectations on all commercial emails.

If your nonprofit goes with a professional email newsletter company, most will
help you ensure your messages comply with CAN-SPAM. This way, you can
let the professionals help you navigate the ins and outs of the legal mandates.
They’ll put the necessary information in footers, handle unsubscribe
functionality, keep your subscribers’ email addresses private, and all of the
other legal requirements under CAN-SPAM.

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3. Professionalism
Sending your email newsletters from an account dedicated to business
interactions presents a much more professional impression. And everyone
knows how important a first impression can be. You would probably think
twice about opening an email from, not knowing what
to expect. But an email from is more professional,
transparent, and trustworthy.

Sending your nonprofit’s updates from an address that clearly identifies who
the message is from can be just as important to getting emails opened as
having a clear subject line.

4. Organization and List Management

Not only will your email correspondence look more professional and
organized to your newsletter subscribers, but chances are separating your
nonprofit’s emails from your personal email interactions will actually make
your inbox more organized through list management.

Having an email account dedicated to handling your nonprofit’s emails

makes constructing and managing email lists much easier. Keeping the list
of subscribers who only want to receive the schedule for their upcoming
volunteer opportunity separate from the list of people who are interested
in the monthly newsletter is important to keeping those subscribers both
happy and informed. Most email newsletter services will help you handle
segmenting your nonprofit’s newsletter, taking out much of the headache of
juggling lists of subscribers all on your own.

5. Easing Collaboration and Transitions

Keeping your personal and business email separate means that these two
accounts will have different passwords, allowing you to keep your personal
emails private while you and your coworkers collaborate on the newsletter.
Separating your personal account from the nonprofit’s will also be extremely
helpful if you leave your position or your duties change, smoothing any
possible transitions.

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6. Professional Analytics Reports

Most professional newsletter services will also provide analytics for you to
track the effectiveness of your messages. This means you’ll get important
information and you can skip all the time and hassle it would take to gather
and monitor that information yourself. Many newsletter services will also offer
tips, tricks, and extra services for interpreting your newsletter’s analytics to
help you on your way to creating the best newsletter, getting it opened, and
increasing response rates.

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How Often Should Your

Nonprofit Send Your Email
How often should your nonprofit send your email newsletter? It’s a question
I’m sure every nonprofit considers when developing an email newsletter.
To determine the most likely choices, let’s take a look at what others in the
nonprofit world are doing. According to the 2011 Nonprofit Communications
Trends Report, nonprofits send emails with the following frequencies:

• Monthly – 43%

• Every Other Week – 17%

• Quarterly – 16%

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• Weekly – 12%

• Twice a Year – 3%

• Several Times a Week – 3%

• Don’t Know or No Reply – 7%

For some the immediate conclusion would be that monthly is the appropriate
frequency. In reality, increasing your nonprofit’s email frequency beyond
once a month can be beneficial. According to data released last year from
MailChimp and HubSpot, organizations that send emails only once per month
have a 78% higher unsubscribe rate than those that send 12 a month. Don’t
worry though; you don’t have to send 12 emails a month. The unsubscribe
rate drops significantly when the email frequency is increased to anywhere
between 1 and 6 times per month.

But before you jump to send emails twice a month or weekly, make sure you
consider what your organization can manage now and in the future.

Key Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Email Frequency

These following two questions will help your organization dictate what’s
possible before you send more frequent emails.

1. How often can you generate valuable content? “Valuable” is the

key word here. If you can provide content (articles, stories, statistics,
etc.) that your supporters will find valuable on a more frequent basis
than once a month, then by all means send at a more frequent rate.

2. How much time can your organization devote to your email

newsletter? This is closely related to the previous question. If
you’re able to spend the time creating or finding valuable content,
then sending at a more frequent rate can be helpful. You also want
to consider consistency here. If your nonprofit will only be able to
send emails more frequently for a couple of months, maybe it’s a

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An Intro to Email Marketing | How Often Should Your Nonprofit Send Your Email Newsletter

good idea to stick with monthly until you’re sure you have the time
to increase your frequency for the long haul.

Not surprisingly, answering these two questions will usually dictate your
frequency. If you have the content and time to send more than once a month,
you most likely should.

What if We Don’t Have the Content?

Some organizations will say they have the time to send more than once a
month, but don’t have the content. If that’s you, here are some ideas that may
be helpful:

1. Break Out Your Content in to Multiple Emails. Some organizations

will send emails to their supporters that contain tons of content.
While your nonprofit could send one email newsletter featuring six
stories and two volunteers, why not send two emails each with three
stories and one volunteer. Readers prefer short emails anyways.
Don’t you?

2. You Don’t Have to Create All the Content. Remember that your
organization doesn’t necessarily have to create each piece of
content you email. If you find a great article that’s relevant to your
supporters or have a volunteer interested in writing a story from an
event, use that. Your readers don’t need you to write it. They just
need it to be relevant and interesting to them.

We’ve Got the Content, But How Often Exactly Should Our
Nonprofit Send Emails?
Your organization has the content, but how often should you send your
emails? There is no right answer to this question. It depends on the type of
content you’re distributing and on the expectations of your readers. If you
told your readers you were only going to email them once a month, don’t
change your frequency without notification or their approval. Even if you
never set the expectation from the start, it won’t hurt to tell your readers

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through an email that the frequency is going to change.

The best way to determine how often to send is to test. You can test sending
emails once a week, twice a month and monthly. Here’s an approach to
testing outlined by HubSpot:

1. Establish Your Hypotheses

2. Choose a List Segment

3. Establish Baseline Metrics

4. Create and Schedule Your Test Emails

5. Measure and Analyze Results

To learn more about the details of the process check out the full article on

Similarly to a blog, social media and most other types of content, consistency
is important. Once you decide to change your frequency, do your best to stick
with it, at least for a while. Though it may come as a shock, you’ll probably
be surprised how many people will read your email newsletter, even after you
increase your frequency beyond once a month.

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Segmenting Lists for Your

Email Newsletter: Why and
Your email subscribers can be a tough bunch to please. Some want to hear
about volunteer opportunities. Others want to know where their donation
dollars have been going. And some just want news that’s relevant to your
cause. Luckily there’s this thing called “segmenting” that can help you
manage all these different groups.

Segmenting your nonprofit’s newsletter means breaking the list of your

subscribers into separate sublists. These sublists then allow your nonprofit
to send out targeted email newsletters that might have a better chance of
getting opened by their intended audiences. However, segmenting might not
be the best choice for every newsletter. Consider the benefits and possible
drawbacks outlined below.

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Why You Should Consider Segmenting Your Newsletter Lists

Your nonprofit likely collaborates with a wide variety of people and other
organizations. Of the many benefits email newsletters offer, perhaps the most
notable is to confirm and strengthen all of the relationships you’ve developed
with your supporters.

But these relationships vary significantly, and just as you tailor your personal
messages to your boss versus those to your mother, your nonprofit could
benefit from tailoring its newsletters. You might, for example, have very
different messages to send to your sublist of volunteers versus your sublist of

Segmenting your newsletter goes back to one of the cardinal rules of content
writing: write to your audience. By categorizing your audience based on
their specific interests in your nonprofit, it will be easier to provide value to
each separate audience. For example, sending a personalized newsletter
containing motivating photos and stories of impact from your last volunteer
event to a sublist of those interested in volunteering might be enough to
move them to action, to sign up for the next event.

Consider allowing subscribers to choose the type of content they’re most

interested in when they sign up for the newsletter. For instance, you may
include some of the following:

• Stories from the Community

• Our Impact

• Organizational News

• Fundraising Campaigns

• Volunteer Opportunities

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Segmenting your subscribers based on what news updates they want to

receive will help your nonprofit connect with its audience. Successfully
connecting with your audience is the first step to many other benefits, such
as getting more email newsletters opened and ultimately inspiring more
involvement with your nonprofit and its cause.

Some Drawbacks of Segmenting Your Email List

Segmenting your subscriber list into different categories might not work for
every nonprofit. While it can be beneficial, segmenting your newsletter also
comes with some drawbacks.

• More Content: In order to send personalized emails to each sublist

of subscribers, your nonprofit will need to have a wider variety of
content to choose from. If your nonprofit has trouble coming up
with content to include in newsletters, segmenting will only multiply
this problem.

• Time Commitment: Segmenting will involve a greater time

commitment. You’ll need more time to brainstorm the optimal
number of sublists. Time to curate targeted content. And time to
figure out how to get each email address in the appropriate list,
which will vary based on your email newsletter provider. Some
will allow you to email all current subscribers the option to choose
their list affiliations and allow new users to select at signup. Other
services may make you sort current subscribers by hand.

It’s Okay to Overlap

Just because your volunteers may be more interested in photos and stories
about the last volunteer event than in a donor profile does not mean they
have no interest in donor profiles or donor activities. Curate content targeted
for each audience, but consider including other updates as well. You never
know when a donor will decide to become your next volunteer (or vice versa).

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How To Segment Your Newsletter: Some Ideas for Sublists

The categories that you decide to break your nonprofit’s newsletter
subscribers into will ultimately depend on the specifics of your nonprofit: your
goals, your audience, your available content, etc.

Here are some general sublists that might work when segmenting your
nonprofit’s email newsletter:

• Donors

• Major Donors

• Volunteers

• Local Subscribers

• Organizations You Work With

• Specific Interests of Your Subscribers

Segmenting your email newsletter is ultimately a decision you’ll need to make

for your nonprofit. The benefit is that segmenting allows you to write for your
audience, giving you a greater chance to offer valuable content. However, if
your nonprofit doesn’t have the time to curate content for each targeted list,
then segmenting your subscribers won’t be effective.

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9 Content Ideas for Your

Nonprofit Newsletter
We’ve written before about how to format your email newsletter and how to
get it opened, but all the trappings and trimmings of a great newsletter won’t
mean a thing if you don’t have valuable content to offer your audience. But
what kind of content should you have in your newsletter? What sorts of things
should you be putting in your newsletter to keep your nonprofit’s audience in
touch and interested?

Here are a few ideas.

1. Updates about Your Organization

It is a newsletter after all. What has your nonprofit been up to? Have you
reached a goal, hosted an event, expanded your operation? Have you
revised your mission statement or altered how you use donations? Share your
obstacles. Share your success stories.

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But keep your readers in mind. Past donors want to hear about how their
money is making a difference. Past volunteers might want to hear about
further opportunities to get involved. Tailor your news updates to the
audience you’re writing for.

2. Donor Highlights
One of the main reasons to create a newsletter is to build and maintain
relationships. One way to do this is by recognizing the people who contribute
to your nonprofit’s success. Who are your donors? Why did they get
interested in your nonprofit? What motivated them to contribute? Discover
the story behind some donations. And share these stories with your readers.

3. Volunteer Profiles
Donors aren’t the only people who contribute to your nonprofit. Profile a
volunteer who went above and beyond. Not only will this gesture show your
appreciation of current volunteers, but profiles and stories like these might
also inspire others to volunteer at your nonprofit’s next event or contribute in
any way they can.

4. Stories of Impact
Keep your subscribers interested in and impressed by your nonprofit’s
work with recent stories of impact. Compose your nonprofit’s most recent
successes into stories that inspire your readers. Focus on the most engaging
parts of your story and provide links to your website for your newsletter
readers who want to find out more.

After you’ve written these stories, take a step back and try to reread them
from an outside perspective. Ask yourself, do I care about the people and
organization in this story? Do I connect with them emotionally?

5. Articles from Around the Web

Keep in mind that you don’t have to write all of the content in the entire
newsletter. There is significant value to being a good content curator. Your

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subscribers are looking to you as an expert in your field. Add articles from
outside sources that you think provide valuable information. You can then
add a brief introduction to the article link outlining your thoughts on how this
article affects nonprofits in general or your nonprofit in particular.

6. News Updates
In addition to articles from around the web, feel free to share relevant news
articles on world events that in some way impact your organization or cause.
Include local, national, or international news stories and how they relate to
your nonprofit’s work.

7. Blog Posts
There’s no reason to rack your brain for new content when you already have
quality content at your fingertips. Include teasers from your nonprofit’s most
recent blog posts in the newsletter. Not only will this help round out your
newsletter, but it also might expand that blog post’s reach, connecting with
readers who might have missed it when it was first published.

8. Your Upcoming Events

Your email newsletter is a great place to spread the word about future events
your nonprofit might be planning. Include all the exciting details: the great
location, the delicious food, the fun and games – whatever has made your
nonprofit’s past events successful. Show the audience why they won’t want
to miss what your nonprofit has in store for its next event.

9. Relevant Community Events

Your newsletter doesn’t have to be all about you. You are no doubt a part of
a strong and supportive community, and your newsletter is a great medium to
reciprocate that goodwill.

As you curate content from within your nonprofit, keep an eye out for events
in the community that like-minded supporters might be interested in attending.
Showing your support for local events is a great way to demonstrate your

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nonprofit’s involvement in the community, not to mention helping to spread

awareness for your nonprofit’s cause.

The people subscribing to your newsletter are already interested in what

your nonprofit is up to. Don’t mess that up by sending them junk. Keep them
informed with news updates, outside articles and internal blog posts. Keep
them connected with donor highlights and volunteer profiles. Inspire them
with stories of impact. Above all, make sure that your newsletter provides
genuine value.

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Getting Started with

Social Media
You’ve probably been told at some point that your nonprofit
should be focusing on social media. While social media
offers a great opportunity for your organization to engage
with and expand your community, it’s important to figure
out how to use it in a way that works well for you.

It’s true social media often has a low financial cost, but it
can take a tremendous amount of time, an asset that’s often
scarce in many nonprofits.

These articles will help you get more out of the time you
invest in social media.

Articles in this section:

How Nonprofits Can Use Facebook 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your
Graph Search Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit

Should Be Sharing

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How Nonprofits Can Use

Facebook Graph Search
Everyone (and most likely their grandma) has heard of Facebook. Most
nonprofits have at the very least started establishing a basic Facebook
presence. Developing a Facebook presence makes sense given the platform
has over 1 billion monthly active users.

One of the biggest knocks against the Facebook user experience has always
been its lack of a strong search feature. With so much information available
on Facebook, it’s pretty important to have a tool for you to sift through it and
find what you’re looking for.

And out of this frustration Facebook Graph Search was born.

What is Facebook Graph Search?

Graph Search allows you to filter through a ton of data to find what you’re

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looking for. It also adds a social element to the search experience.

Instead of just seeing restaurants in Boston, I can see which restaurants my
friends like in Boston. (Don’t judge me, judge them.)

You can see what musicians are liked by people who like Green Day and the
Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Graph Search makes the massive amount of data generated by real Facebook
users searchable in a pretty simple way.

It also presents an excellent opportunity for your nonprofit.

Signing Up for Graph Search

If you want the new graph search:

but your search still looks old and sad:

fear not!

To enable Graph Search, do the following:

1. Visit

2. Click the large green Join Waiting List button

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3. Wait…

That’s it. You should be up and running with Graph Search soon.

4 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Facebook Graph Search

So you have Graph Search already? Awesome! Finding restaurants and
musicians may make your personal life a bit more interesting, but it doesn’t
really help your nonprofit all that much.

Before your write Graph Search off, take a look at some of the cool things you
can do.

The following list is by no means exhaustive. But here are four searches to
get you started.

1. Find Pages to Engage With

Facebook is huge and you only have so much time to devote to social media
every day. Use Graph Search to find those pages that are liked by folks that
may be interested in your cause.

Type into Graph Search:

Pages liked by people who like NONPROFIT NAME

Don’t use your nonprofit here. Pick a nonprofit that has some overlap with
your mission. Once you have a list of pages, see what they do to engage their
followers. What are they posting? When are they posting it? Are there any
posts you can comment on?

Learn from their lead and engage with them, offering insights and your take
on the topics they’re discussing. You may be able to grab some interest in
your organization in the process.

Nonprofit Example
Maybe you work to find adoptive homes for animals. You could do a Graph
Search for “Pages liked by people who like Humane Society International.”

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You’d get the following:

Check these pages out to see what they do and start engaging. But don’t be
self-promotional. Just offer your take on the topics at hand. Be helpful and
others will check you out.

2. Find Groups to Join

Facebook Groups also offer potential to engage people interested in your
cause. Some Groups are closed and you’ll need to request to be added. But
many are publicly open to join.

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I’d recommend picking two prominent nonprofits that are related to your
cause as the basis of your search.

Type into Graph Search:

Groups joined by people who like NONPROFIT NAME and NONPROFIT

Once you’ve found Groups to join, you can engage around the topic the
group discusses.

Nonprofit Example
Let’s say you’re a nonprofit working to protect endangered animals. You
could try “Groups joined by people who like World Wildlife Fund and National
Wildlife Federation.”

You’d get the following:

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But you’ll notice a lot of these Groups say “Closed Group” on them. You can
request to join but clicking the “Join” button.

You can also filter your results to only include Groups that are open to all. To
do so, you’ll want to use the “Refine This Search” menu on the right of the
page. Select “Open” from the Privacy dropdown menu:

Now you’ll only see those Groups open to all.

3. Find Follower Interests

Wondering what your Facebook followers are interested in? Graph Search
makes it very easy to find out.

Type into Graph Search:

Favorite interests of people who like YOUR NONPROFIT

Just like that you’ll see the most popular interests of people who have liked
your nonprofit’s Facebook page.

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Nonprofit Example
Let’s say the American Red Cross is wondering what their followers like. By
typing “Favorite interests of people who like American Red Cross” into Graph
Search they’ll see the following:

Knowing fan interests has implications in many areas, including promotions,

special offers, events, partnerships with other organizations, fundraising
campaigns and advertising (to name a few). Pretty cool, right?

4. Find Places Your Followers Visit

Facebook allows users to check-in when they visit various places in real life.
You can use this information to see the specific spots your fans visit.

Type into Graph Search:

Places in LOCATION visited by people who like YOUR NONPROFIT

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Not only do you get location names, but you also get a nifty map to match.
Knowing locations your fans go could be huge for promotions as well as

Nonprofit Example
Perhaps the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (based in Seattle) wants to see
what local spots their fans frequent. All they need to do is type in “Places
in Seattle, Washington visited by people who like Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation” and they’ll see this:

They can use this info to better connect with their followers and recruit new

Want some other tips on how marketers can use Graph Search? Check out
this post on Social Media Examiner.

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12 Types of Tweets Your

Nonprofit Should Be
Just because your nonprofit does amazing things doesn’t mean that’s all you
should talk about on Twitter.

If you use Twitter even semi-regularly, you’ve probably had this experience:

You come across an organization you’re really excited to follow. You love their
mission and the work they do. Then you glance through their Twitter stream.
And you’re greeted with an endless barrage of requests for donations, plugs
for upcoming events and an occasional request to Like them on Facebook.
As your excitement wanes, you close the stream, disappointed.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit Should Be Sharing

Your followers deserve more from you than unending appeals for help. Here
are a few types of Tweets your nonprofit should drop into the mix.

1. Links to Resources Related to Your Mission

Sharing content created by others is an excellent way to mix up what you
share on Twitter. Make sure it’s relevant to your mission so that you’re
offering value to your followers.

For an added bonus, mention the content producer by Twitter username

(complete with the @ symbol). That way they’ll be notified you’re sharing their
content and will be more likely to engage with your nonprofit.

2. Retweet Info Shared by Others

Along the same lines, retweet content shared by others that’s relevant to your
mission. Retweeting is a great way to share helpful content without taking
a ton of your time. It also notifies the account you retweeted, increasing the
likelihood they’ll check you out.

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3. Relevant Current Events

There’s likely news related to your mission happening all the time. Share it
with your followers. Tell them your thoughts on what’s going on. Provide
them resources to understand the situation better.

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4. Celebrate Your Supporters

Don’t just talk about how amazing your organization is. Talk about how
amazing your supporters are.

Your donors, volunteers and advocates enable you to do all those things you
do in your community. So share their impact via Twitter.

5. Links to Your Content

It’s fine to promote yourself as well. But instead of simply asking for money
or volunteers, provide links to valuable content on your website.

Maybe it’s a new blog post. Or a resource you have on your site. Whatever it
is, make sure it’s valuable to your Twitter followers before posting it.

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6. Compelling Data
Have short snippets of compelling data? Twitter is an excellent place to share it.

Make sure it’s simple and easy to understand. If appropriate, provide a link to a
relevant resource where your followers can learn more.

7. A Glimpse into Your Work in the Community

Many of your supporters can’t join you in the community you serve. But you
can use Twitter as a way to give them a glimpse of what your work in the
community looks like.

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Share compelling photos and videos of your organization in the field. This
type of content can be a great way to rally support for your nonprofit and the
work you do.

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8. Community Stories
Use Twitter to share stories of those you serve. This can be a great way to
spark interest in your mission and the work your organization does on a daily

Sometimes it can be as simple as sharing a single photo.

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9. Questions to Your Community

Want to know the sort of content your Twitter followers are interested in? Ask

You can ask all sorts of questions of your followers, including:

• What questions do you have about (a certain topic)?

• What topics would you like us to cover on our blog?

• What inspires you to take action (related to your mission)?

• Who’s going to (an upcoming event)? What are you most excited

Directly asking your community questions can be a great way to engage them
in dialogue and produce content tailored to their interests.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit Should Be Sharing

10. Ask for Feedback

Twitter can be a great place to ask your followers for feedback. After a
fundraising campaign or event, ask your community what inspired them. Ask
what they’d like to see changed in the future.

Get their feedback to consider for future events and campaigns.

11. Talk About Other Organizations

There’s a good chance you partner with other incredible organizations. Talk
about them. Share the great stuff they’re doing with your followers.

If you share the stellar work of other organizations, there’s a good chance it
will enhance your relationship with them.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit Should Be Sharing

12. Share an Inspirational Quote

People on Twitter love quotes. Please don’t go overboard and share
tons of trite quotes each day, but an occasional quote can help fuel some
engagement from your followers.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 12 Types of Tweets Your Nonprofit Should Be Sharing

Mix It Up
The bottom line is you need to mix it up on Twitter. Sharing a variety of
tweets can help keep your stream fresh and make it far more likely someone
interested in your organization will follow you.

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5 Ways to Avoid
Annoying Your Nonprofit’s
Twitter Followers
Twitter can be tough. Maybe you’ve been there before, crafting what you
knew would be the perfect Tweet sure to throw your followers into a retweet-
ing frenzy, only to have it go seemingly unnoticed. Keep your head up – it’s
happened to us all.

Getting followers can be just as illusive. There are a wide variety of things you
can do to promote follower growth. But that’s not what this post is all about.
This post is about keeping those followers you already have.

The last thing you want to do is woo new followers only to annoy them into
quickly leaving you behind. Here are five ways you can avoid doing just that.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

1. Focus on Offering Value to Your Followers

It’s important to remember your Twitter followers are tracking you in order to
gain some value from the content you share. Sure, they’re likely interested in
your mission and organization as a whole. But if you bug them with pure self-
promotion, there’s a good chance they’re going to stop following you.

Instead, focus on sharing mostly information they’re going to find interesting.

Make sure it relates to your cause in some way, but it need not be about your
organization. Share relevant news or interesting blog posts related to your

If you do so, you can still sprinkle in a healthy dose of info about yourself with-
out being annoying.

A couple of great examples:

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

2. Reframe Your Self-Promotional Tweets

Sometimes you’ll want to promote yourself. Whether it’s the good you’re do-
ing in the community, an upcoming event or a fundraising campaign, social
media can be a great way to spread the word.

But mix up the way you promote yourself. Don’t always tell your followers
“Hey, we have something for you to do! Please do it!!” Change it up a little.

An example will help illustrate this point. Here are a few ways you could pro-
mote an upcoming event:

• Talk about how excited you are for the event

• Share what people can expect if they attend the event

• Tell your followers how much it means to you and your community
that so many people are signing up for the event

• Discuss the impact the event will have

• Thank individual people for signing up

• Thank individual people for helping to promote the event or

spreading the word via social media

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

By reframing some of your self-promotion you can avoid seeming as if you’re

always asking your followers for things. And that can go a long way.

A couple of great examples:

3. Remind Followers Why They Support You

Twitter can be a great tool to remind your followers why they love your organi-
zation. Instead of just plugging how they can help, remind them of the amaz-
ing things you’re doing in the world.

Share quotes and photos from the communities you serve. Share short vid-
eos using Twitter’s Vine app. Link to posts on your blog that highlight stories
of success. Simply put, share some of the things that make you awesome.

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

A couple of great examples:

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

4. Share Content From Others

I used to teach Kindergarten, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had con-
versations about sharing as an indication you care about others. But it’s just
as true on Twitter as it is on the playground.

Retweet content that others share. And not only the content that talks directly
about your nonprofit. Share content from others that’s related to your mission
but doesn’t mention your organization. Share content from your partner orga-
nizations. Share relevant news from a variety of sources.

After all, sharing should be a priority long after you graduate to the first grade.

A great example:

5. Space Out Your Tweets

Most of your followers like you. But I’d wager most of them don’t like you
enough to be repeatedly bombarded by strings of your Tweets. Instead of
blasting a ton of Tweets at your followers, space them out over the course of
the day.

You can use a variety of applications like TweetDeck, HootSuite or Buffer to

schedule posts. That way you can avoid annoying your followers by clogging
their streams with your content. But, as a quick aside, don’t simply blast the

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Getting Started with Social Media | 5 Ways to Avoid Annoying Your Nonprofit’s Twitter Followers

same messages to all of your social accounts. If people follow your various
accounts (such as Facebook and Twitter) getting the exact same content in
multiple places is pretty annoying too.

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About Wired Impact

We know a website can and should be more than simply a
pretty place for people to see what you do. It should have a
meaningful impact on your organization, such as:

• Boosting fundraising by inspiring website visitors to be-

come donors and helping you maintain relationships with
past donors

• Increasing volunteerism by connecting you with new

volunteers and easing the process of managing volunteer

• Raising awareness of your organization by publishing

content that resonates with potential supporters and
making information easy for them to find

• Serving your community by sharing educational content

or offering tools your community members rely on

Your website shouldn’t just be an online brochure. It should

be helping your nonprofit do more good in the community.

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About Wired Impact

A Bit About Our Team

The following folks at Wired Impact collaborated on this guide:

Jonathan Goldford
Jonathan spends the majority of his time focused on web
programming and is passionate about encouraging nonprofits to
use the web as a tool to impact the community.

David Hartstein
David spends most of his time helping nonprofits tell their
stories in a more compelling way and using data to measure
the benefits an organization can glean from its website.

Rori Spivey
Rori spends her time planning, sketching, and designing
the look and feel of nonprofit websites to not only look
great, but also compel visitors to act.

We’re social and quite friendly, so if you have any questions or just feel like
reaching out, we’d love to hear from you.

Twitter | @wiredimpact
Facebook |
Nonprofit Tech Blog |
Website |
Phone | (314) 801-1328


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Photo Attributions
This guide includes photos from the following sources.

Cover Photo: “Happy Volunteer” by Page 25: “How could you say no?” by Kenny
Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Beszaire Louie available at
available at photos/kwl/2963765719 under a Creative
dlbezaire/879003299 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://
Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0. Full
terms at
by-sa/2.0/ Page 30: “Brújula” by Luis Pérez available
Page 3: “sweet potatoes” by Evonne McArthur N00/3879235872/ under a Creative
available at Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://
evoo73/6142345333 under a Creative
Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http:// Page 36: “Compass” by Walt Stoneburner
available at
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by Karen available at Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at
photos/56832361@N00/2747091311 under a
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at Page 39: “Colorful Telephones” by Mark Fischer
available at
Page 12: “Rusty” by Gerry Dincher fischerfotos/7432225390/ under a Creative
available at Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0. Full terms
gerrydincher/5533233217/ under a Creative at
Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http:// Page 45: “Moleskine a quadretti e grafite” by
Gilberto Taccari available at
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2013 #4* (at one time)” by Tom Brown a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms
available at at
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Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http:// Page 51: “2010-12-02b” by Brenda Gottsabend available at
gottgraphicsdesign/5227946172/ under a
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available at
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Page 56: “Two Bloggers, after Norman Rockwell”
by Mike Licht available at Page 78: “The Art of Facebook” by mkmarketing
photos/notionscapital/2744489459/ under a available at
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at mkhmarketing/8468995025/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://
Pag 60: “Message to the mail man” by gajman
available at Page 87: “Multiple Tweets Plain” by mkmarketing
thegajman/6645640933/ under a Creative available at
Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http:// mkhmarketing/8477893426/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://
Page 65: “Hate Mail” by Terry Johnston
available at Page 98: “Alto a la Violencia” by Gerardo
powerbooktrance/348518831/ under a Creative Obieta available at
Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http:// rosauraochoa/3326772902/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://
Page 69: “US Mail” by Wayne Wilkinson
available at
waynewilkinson/6139329957/ under a Creative
Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://

Page 73: “overcoming writer’s block - crumpled

paper on wooden floor - crushed paper” by
photosteve101 available at
photos/42931449@N07/5263540555/ under a
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at

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