It’s a crowded digital world for nonprofits and philanthropists which is why it’s more important than ever for organizations to cut through the noise by being effective online. With the never-ending development of new technologies combined with most nonprofits limited resources of time and money, the digital world can be overwhelming. But with the right strategy and tools, being effective online is less complicated than you think.
Here are steps every nonprofit organization can take to improve overall digital effectiveness:
- Develop an integrated digital strategy
- Ensure your “digital house is in order”
- Tell your organization’s story authentically
- Build a connected digital community
- Gain third-party validation to establish credibility and legitimacy
Develop an integrated digital strategy
The starting point for nonprofits just beginning their digital journey and even for those that already have their online assets in place, is to create an organizational digital strategy. Some of the following questions may help direct the development of a plan; what do we want to achieve through the use of digital? What do we do well offline that we can duplicate or improve online? How do our donors and stakeholders interact with us through technology? Is there a digital solution that could improve the capacity or efficiency of our organization? How will we share our vision, mission and values when using online efforts in outreach?
Ensure your “digital house is in order”
We often refer to online effectiveness as having your digital house in order, which starts with a solid foundation – your digital assets. Start with a quick evaluation to ensure your organization has the basics in place:
- Does your organization have a website? You may be surprised by the fact that many organizations rely solely on Facebook page for their digital presence. This significantly impacts the online visibility and credibility of your organization and its mission.
- Is your website mobile-friendly? Make sure you are reaching your supporters beyond their desktop.
- What domain extension are you using? Did you know .org is open to all Internet users for organizational, personal, political and corporate use? In contrast, the .ngo can only be used by validated nonprofits. Those three letters at the end of your URL can impact donor perception about your organization’s legitimacy and trustworthiness.
- Does your email match your organization’s name? Or are you using a gmail, yahoo or hotmail account? Consider how this impacts your organization’s credibility. Keep it consistent and easy for your email recipients to recognize your organization as the sender.
- Social media:
- Which platforms do your supporters and donors use most? Is your organization active in these digital spaces?
- Do you engage continuously and authentically and invite feedback?
- Are all your social networks located on your homepage? It’s an easy step to integrate your online presence.
- Online donation:
- Provide an option on your website for donations online or set up text donations.
Authentically tell your organization’s story
- Share your vision, mission and values online and hold true to them in all online engagement.
- Be authentic – When it comes to social media and activism, don’t jump into issues unrelated to your organization’s purpose.
- Social media and activism – be consistent and support like causes and organizations
- Ensure offline and online messaging are coordinated.
- Share your journey and data-supported results using photos, infographics and videos to create a stronger connection with your supporters.
Build a connected digital community
Building a digital community is not all that different than how most organizations built their current network offline. It has always been critical to the health of a nonprofit to establish a strong connection with its targeted communities including donors, external stakeholders and the beneficiaries of the organization’s mission. A few ideas to help foster an online community:
- Ask your donors how they would like to receive information about your organization. Some people prefer short updates on Facebook, while some may prefer length emails with data and visuals.
- Position your organization as a resource for your audience, give back to your digital supporters more often than you ask them for support.
- Check that your organization is linked to others that either validate your mission or offer a perspective that is valuable to your own efforts.
- Involve your Board of Directors in the organization’s digital effort. Provide board members with addresses of social channels so they may amplify the outreach.
- Local media outreach – This might sound time-consuming, but it is really as simple as using your existing digital assets to demonstrate your organization’s community impact and showcases your value as a trusted resource.
Gain third-party validation to establish credibility and legitimacy
Civil society organizations around the world are varied and diverse – not least in size, funding and focus – but they share a common goal when it comes to improving people’s lives and building equitable societies.
Created in direct response to the issues of trust and establishing legitimacy within the sector, the .ngo domain — and the corresponding domain .ong for use in romance language countries — were released as validated online identities exclusively for the use of registered NGOs and nonprofit organizations globally. The .ngo domain offers a way for organizations globally to pull together and express solidarity as a united virtual community to both protect and enhance Civil Society’s digital space and enhance the global good. Until the release of the new domains, most nonprofits have chosen to identify their organizations online utilizing the .org domain.
Despite the popularity of.org, this domain does not guarantee legitimate status as a charitable nonprofit. It is open to all Internet users for organizational, personal, political and corporate use. However, at a time when non-profits working on critical issues in their communities need to be able to demonstrate to local constituencies and donors alike that they are genuine and can be trusted, many are adopting the .ngo & .ong domains. The .ngo domain is the only globally recognized digital space that represents a third-party verified nonprofit.
When donors are choosing their favorite causes to support, they often look to an organization’s website to validate and verify their donations are supporting credible nonprofits- yet another reason to get your digital house in order. Make sure you are showing donors that your organization is a verified and credible nonprofit. The .ngo is a simple and easy way to show this. Within the .ngo protected digital space, donors of all kinds can give confidently and know they are supporting organizations that are mission-focused, legitimate and working towards building increased accountability, transparency and trust with the communities they serve.
– Jeri Curry, President & CEO of Enset
Enset, the only nonprofit provider of the .ngo , ong and .org domains, believes that when NGOs individually use the internet to advance their own missions, they collectively strengthen the capacities, credibility and effectiveness of civil society. Our mission is to support NGOs around the world as a trusted not-for-profit provider of digital solutions for NGOs to use the internet to advance their own mission.
Created in in 2015 by Public Interest Registry — operator of the .org, .ngo, and .ong domains, Enset’s vision is to strengthen civil society through the development and promotion of a more transparent, accountable and connected online community of NGOs (non-governmental organizations).