Nonprofits, especially ones with smaller budgets, often don’t put a lot of time and effort into their online communications. Their website, if they have one, usually consists of just a few pages dedicated to the mission of the organization, the services they perform, and instructions for volunteering, or sending in donations. While this no-frills type of website is certainly better than having no online presence at all, it is far from ideal in providing adequate communication between you and your supporters.
Technology can be a valuable tool to keep donors, supporters, and volunteers engaged with the daily operations of a nonprofit organization. Unfortunately, many worthy causes have settled for one-sided communication with their donors in the form of monthly newsletters and occasional fundraising appeals. This method may have sufficed years ago, but in today’s world-wide-web culture, people expect more. They want to know they have a voice, and that the causes they support are willing to listen to their ideas and suggestions. An active internet presence can provide this two-way communication. Your nonprofit could use any or all of the following methods to encourage interactivity with your supporters:
- Email Updates – You can easily create a section on your website where supporters can sign up with their email addresses to receive current status reports or news items. Occasional email “bulletins” sent out to these addresses might include a particular victory your agency has experienced, an urgent call for help with a specific task, or a reminder about an important upcoming event. Because a sign up for this type of mailing is voluntary, you can count on these updates to be read and attended to.
- Electronic Newsletter For Volunteers – volunteers give selflessly of their time and effort, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be told how much they are appreciated. A special email “newsletter” for volunteers could be sent out monthly or quarterly, and could include special “inside” information about the agency, highlights of a particular volunteers contributions, notices about upcoming volunteer needs, and of course, generous appreciation for their efforts.
- Dedicated Information Email Address – this would be located in a prominent place on your website,usually in the “Contact Us” section, and would be checked daily by someone in your organization who is talented at answering inquiries and taking feedback. By providing an information email address, you are saying to your supporters and potential supporters that you have nothing to hide and are eager to answer any questions, concerns, or suggestions they may have
- Interactive Calendar – this would be a website feature that would allow the nonprofit to update as often as needed with current data on activities and events, and would allow the user to click on items on the calendar to receive more details and information
- Blog – Blogging is becoming one of the fastest growing methods of communication. A blog, or web log, is an ongoing journal of information related to your cause. It is almost limitless in its type of content, but could include news about your nonprofit, pictures of recent events and activities, editorials on the issues surrounding your cause, or spotlights on people who have made important humanitarian or financial contributions. Blogging can be an uniquely effective tool, in that it allows readers to comment and interact with the content. This creates a sense of active participation for supporters, and gives them a way to express their ideas and to vent their feelings. If your organization is interested in adding a blog to your website, but aren’t sure how to begin, you might want to sign up for a blog writing course, that will guide you through all the steps of designing, writing, and promoting your new blog.
There are many other ways to use your nonprofit website to encourage participation and involvement from your supporters, but hopefully these ideas will get you started on creating a two-way communication that will benefit your cause for years to come.