5 Keys to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit's Online Experience
When Jarid Brown joined the Hope Institute for Children and Families 18 months ago as manager of online interactions, the Springfield, Ill.-based organization dedicated to educational, residential and health services to children with disabilities had very little in the way of online communications.
A year and a half later, the Hope Institute now has a fully integrated online strategy that has seen remarkable growth in e-mail and e-newsletter subscribers, social-media followers, website visitors, and e-philanthropy. It was such a remarkable transformation that FundRaising Success will be sharing the Hope Institute’s online metamorphosis in one of the two remaining cover stories (August and November) in our four-part case studies series this year.
Here, Brown shares his keys to getting the most out of your nonprofit’s online experience.
Don’t follow the herd
It’s perfectly normal and even encouraged to look at what other successful organizations are doing and take a cue from them. But it’s foolish to blindly follow them without understanding why, having a plan to implement, and making sure it’s right for you and your constituents.
“What I’ve most commonly found with nonprofits — and it was certainly the situation here at the Hope Institute — is that we typically have a ‘follow-the-herd’ mentality,” Brown says. “We say we need to have a website so people can find us … but there’s typically not much planning that goes into it.
“Then we say, ‘Well, people are on Facebook so we need Facebook, people are on Twitter so we need to go on Twitter, or people are on YouTube so we need to go to YouTube. Oh, this organization uses Causes on Facebook and they’ve had success so let’s do something there,’” he continues. “So we build our online presence one step at a time without stepping back to look at the bigger picture.”