Tag: Digital Strategy

Update 10/7/19: The Supreme Court declined to hear the case which is a blow to Domino’s. The company is subject to January ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Domino’s and other retailers must make its online services accessible. The case is expected to go to trial.

The accommodations available to ensure someone with a visual disability can successfully order the pizza they want at a Domino’s are protected because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For the last 30 years, the ADA has prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. Should Domino’s have to ensure the same level of accommodation is available for those same folks with visual disabilities through the Domino’s mobile ordering app?

Domino’s is currently testing that question. And the ultimate court ruling could impact nonprofits in huge ways.

Before we get too focused on Domino’s in court, remember that the ADA is something nonprofits comply with today. ADA compliance at your organization may include making your office or program sites physically accessible, adapting employee workstations or hours, ensuring your practices and policies, from benefits to hiring processes, are inclusive and do not explicitly or implicitly discriminate.

So, Domino’s. They are claiming that their mobile app is separate from their physical stores, and the same kinds of accommodations for those with disabilities are not required. However, the panel in Guillermo Robles v. Dominos Pizza LLC believes that the ADA rules do apply to Domino’s online ordering services (the website and mobile app.) They reasoned that the ADA specifies “places of public accommodation” (like restaurants, hotels, parks, museums, daycare centers, as well as many other places where someone would access a service) need to provide alternative ways for folks with disabilities (in this case, visual disabilities and blindness) to participate. And here’s the important part — the ADA applies to the services being offered by a “place of accommodation” and not the physical “place” specifically. The panel connects the app and the physical restaurant and says the app needs to be accessible to someone with a visual disability because the app is used to order pizza from a physical store.

The physical world has long been the focus and definition of the ADA, from wheelchair ramps to sign language interpreters, but the line between offline and online is getting thinner and thinner. A final ruling in the Domino’s case that says the ADA does, in fact, apply to the digital world because of the physical world’s direct connection to the service provided, would result in necessary changes for businesses and nonprofits. NTEN believes this case should conclude with a ruling that provides a precedent definition that the ADA applies to online services because the world is different than it was 30 years ago. Advances in technology have enabled a digital interface for our society that should not be considered unequal to offline spaces. 

You’re probably reading this and wondering if you would be compliant. What services or programs do you deliver online that are open to the public? Is your website accessible in general? Are your community calls or webinars captioned? Does your organization have a mobile app, and is it accessible?

I ask those questions and have to admit, NTEN can do better. We’ve publicly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), yet some NTEN pages use a font/color combination that fails readability tests. And we neglected to invite a captioner to our recent community call, so now the recording isn’t captioned. Because the NTEN staff doesn’t use these accommodations, they’re easy to forget. And that’s the point. Our benign indifference results in exclusion and disrespect.

Regardless of potential rulings that could provide further definition of the ADA, accessibility is a hugely important consideration your organization is likely not focused on. Here are three steps to help focus you:

  1. Use this free and easy to use online tool to get a report about the accessibility of your website
  2. Ensure that you have folks with disabilities involved in your planning and project processes
  3. Create a set of questions to help guide staff decision making that includes questions/reminders about accessibility and inclusion

What’s been your experience including accessibility considerations in your planning? What advice do you have to share? Tweet us @NTENorg or email us.

A strong social media presence is important for nonprofits. From brand awareness to improved engagement with supporters and donors, there are many reasons to improve your social media strategy. However, it’s not always easy when social media is only part of your role.

When you don’t have the time to apply new ideas, you tend to stick to what’s familiar. This is fine if you want to maintain your current social media presence, but it’s not the best approach to stay creative and engaged in today’s fast-paced social media landscape.

To improve your social media strategy in 2019, here are five mistakes to avoid.

Using too many platforms without a clear strategy

It’s common to jump into social media platforms because they’re new or “everyone is there” without a clear strategy.

There’s no need to join all popular social media platforms if your community and supporters are not using them. Moreover, the more platforms you join, the harder it is to keep them active. It’s better to manage two or three platforms rather than setting up a profile on all social media channels, some of which might not be ideal for your organization.

Think of your strategy and what you want to achieve from every social media channel and then decide which ones will most likely work better for your cause. For example, instead of just saying “we need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn,” start by being more specific.

Each of these social networks provides a clear objective:

  • Facebook: to engage with your supporters of all ages
  • Twitter: to share live updates from your events and benefit from trending awareness
    days to expand your reach
  • Instagram: to tell your story in a more visual way while building a more engaged community of broader supporters
  • YouTube: to showcase your videos and use the channel as an online video library to raise awareness about our your work
  • LinkedIn: to recruit your staff and volunteers

Posting without a plan

You may feel your organization doesn’t have much time to create a content calendar for your social media presence, so you decide to share content when you have the time to do it.

This may seem easy and efficient, but it’s not the most effective strategy.

Posting without a plan can typically save you time from organizing your content in advance, but it also reduces the effectiveness of your social media presence.

If you post to a channel on an ad-hoc basis, it’s harder to remember your initial objectives and to bring your team together to help source the content.

When you spend the time to plan your content, either with spreadsheets or social media management tools like Lightful, you can create more effective posts that align with your main objectives.

Treating social media as a silo

When you create a social media strategy and its objectives, don’t ignore other channels that might complement your organization’s work.

For example, you can send an email newsletter that promotes your latest fundraising campaign. You can also encourage people to spread the word about the campaign on their social media channels by including the links to your social profiles. When supporters promote your campaign through their own networks, you can include these metrics in your social media strategy.

Thus, working with numerous teams can ensure that communications, marketing, fundraising, content, and even SEO can come together to yield the best results for your nonprofit.

Not measuring your performance

A lack of time or skills shouldn’t be an excuse to not measure your social media performance. This is a common mistake, and you end up posting on social channels without really knowing what works and what needs improvement.

Some fundamental steps are to review every channel’s main stats (reach, engagement, clicks, and demographics) while discovering the best performing posts. Sometimes you can be surprised by the findings even when you’re sure of what works and what doesn’t.

Allocate at least 30 minutes each week to review your stats and document the most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your nonprofit. This is also useful when communicating the success of your work to other team members.

Ignoring the latest trends and how they apply to your strategy

You don’t need to be an expert to keep up with the most important social media trends. Sometimes you can even review your own social media presence and what other nonprofits are posting on each channel to help you create successful content for every channel.

Here are some top social media trends to consider for your organization:

  • Visual content to improve awareness and engagement: Images, videos, GIFs, infographics are here to stay. They can help you tell your story in a more engaging way. Moreover, there are many online tools to help you create them without spending too much time or money.
  • Messaging and groups to encourage interactions: WhatsApp and Facebook Groups are good examples of how private messaging and communities are going beyond public Pages. You can use them to work with your ambassadors or your volunteers or even between your team members to enhance collaboration.
  • Improved focus on engagement on every channel: Followers are not as important as engagement. All big social platforms are downgrading the importance of growing your followers if you don’t have strong engagement. This is an attempt to stop the number of fake followers without paying attention to the actual interactions you’re having with your supporters. Try to be more engaging by asking questions, posting interactive content such as polls, and promote dialogue through your content.
  • Stories as a new form of content: Instagram Stories are one of the most engaging content types on social media in 2019. Facebook Stories are now the next thing to try out and LinkedIn is also following with their own version of Stories. This new type of vertical content is appealing because it feels more casual and authentic. It’s also a great way to post interactive content (polls, questions, etc)

Keep all these in mind when you’re reviewing your current social media strategy. One small change at a time can lead to great success, provided that you’re strategic and consistent with your creative ideas.

The key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try out new things, but always document what works and what can be improved. Start thinking of social media as part of a bigger digital journey and work together with other teams to produce the best results.

When a web design agency receives an ill-prepared RFP, they are far less likely to take the time to prepare a proposal for the project, or the proposal will be less accurate and useful. If you decide to create an RFP, then a strong website RFP is a beneficial first step toward a successful new website.

Why Create a Request for Proposal?

When prepared well, RFPs can serve a valuable purpose for nonprofit organizations. An RFP for a nonprofit’s new website can:

● Help all partners think through the scope of a new website.
● Build consensus within the nonprofit about project goals.
● Clearly and consistently explain the project to web design agencies.
● Demonstrate to agencies that you are serious about the project.
● Help to ensure consistent proposals for easier and more informative comparisons.

In any given week, I review 5-10 request for proposals. Inevitably, many of them fail to achieve some or all of the goals listed above. Here are some of the most common mistakes I see in RFPs.

Mistake #1: RFP spam

RFP spam is when an organization blindly sends an RFP to dozens or hundreds of agencies. Maybe these leads were discovered through a list of qualified agencies, or maybe they were collected randomly from browsing web design agency websites.

Bonus mistake: Forgetting to use blind copy (Bcc) in the email announcing the RFP, so everyone on the list can see all the other agencies contacted. Many qualified agencies will decline to respond to this type of mass solicitation.

A more effective approach is to send a thoughtful, directed communication.

Gather references from colleagues or friends, or research leads using an analysis agency l. Create several metrics to inform choices likely to be a good fit, such as experience in your industry, examples of work with similar types of organizations, size, location, or quality of work.

Then contact the 5-10 agencies that you’ve decided might be a good fit and conduct 15-minute introduction calls. You’ll quickly discover which agencies are likely to be a good fit. You might also discover new details to add to your RFP. Once you’ve narrowed your list, personally invite the 4-5 most promising agencies to respond to the RFP.

Mistake #2: micromanage the format

Unnecessarily complicated delivery processes and formatting requirements create additional challenges. Micromanagement can signal that an organization is more concerned about rules and bureaucracy than quality, likely discouraging quality agencies from responding.

Here’s an example from a recent RFP:

…Strict conformance to the specified proposal format and completeness of required content are essential. Lack of any listed item will disqualify a proposal … One (1) copy shall contain all original signatures and be marked “Original”. Proposer shall also submit one (1) digital (thumb drive) and nine (9) hard copies of their proposal marked “Copy”. Proposals shall be submitted in three ring binders. Cost Proposal sheets shall be separately placed into sealed envelopes separate from Proposals and labeled “Confidential”. Each section of the proposal shall be tabbed in accordance with the below number system…”

Bonus mistake: Requiring multiple print copies of proposals may send the wrong signal about your organization in today’s eco-conscious business environment.

Instead, allow requested proposals space and flexibility to showcase the strengths of the agencies bidding for the contract.

In most cases, the digital agency’s proposal format is a strong reflection of their future work. If the proposal is disorganized or filled with errors, their work will likely also be disorganized. If the proposal is organized, creative, and elegant, there’s a good chance their work will be too.

You should specify the requirements of the proposal (examples, references, budget, etc.), but also allow the agency to meet those requirements in the format that best represents their work.

Mistake #3: withholding the budget

Some nonprofit organizations decline to provide a budget or budget range, perhaps because the organization wants to get a great deal (who doesn’t!) and doesn’t want to only receive proposals in an overly prescriptive budget range.

However, similar to shopping for a car without deciding on a budget, there are great values at nearly every price point.

Sadly, most digital agencies invest great effort to prepare a proposal only to discover that the budget allocated for the project is a tiny fraction of the effort required. Many agencies today will decline to respond to an RFP if a budget range is not disclosed.

Disclose a budget or budget range, so agencies can help prioritize and accurately describe what is possible in that range. Most digital agencies are pleased to work with your budget, or will tell you if the budget it too low.

Mistake #4: unclear (or fake) process

Some organizations are not clear about the RFP process they will follow, or they are requesting proposals because a minimum number of “bids” are required.

Here’s an example of an ineffective invitation to submit a proposal:

Subject: Website Bid
Date: Tue 20 Mar 2018 09:38:04 – 0700
From: < Uncertain Company >

Dear Vendor,
We are considering redesigning our website. Please prepare a proposal from the attached specs. Once we receive a bunch of proposals, we’ll decide if we want to move forward with the project.
< Uncertain CEO >

This email implies that the digital agency’s time may be wasted if the organization decides not to proceed with the project. Certainly, any organization can reject all proposals submitted, but leading with uncertainty about the project is likely to discourage responses from qualified agencies.

Instead, agree on a process with the entire organization before issuing the RFP, and then be clear about that process in the RFP.

Mistake #5: unrealistic timeline

Some organizations propose an unrealistic timeline that can impact cost or dissuade qualified agencies from responding.

For example, here’s a timeline from an RFP I recently received:

8.3 Schedule

November 1 RFP Released
November 7 Questions Due
November 8 All Questions Answered
November 9 Proposals Due
November 12 Interviews
November 14 Firm Selected
November 15 Board Approval
November 19 Project Kick-Off
December 21 Website Launches

This timeline is highly unlikely to succeed.

First, most agencies will decide to proceed and begin serious work on a proposal after questions have been answered. In this case, there is only one day between when questions are answered and the proposals are due.

Although it’s possible, most organizations cannot review proposals and schedule interviews within two days, and even fewer can get approval from their board in a day.

Asking an agency to start a project just a few days after you’ve notified them they’ve been selected is unrealistic. Finally, trying to launch a new website within 30 days in the midst of the holiday season would be challenging.

Instead, propose a realistic timeline and suggest that the agency can recommend a timeline as well. Leave time in the schedule to meet with agencies and answer their questions. If you have hard, event-driven deadlines, take time to explain them.

A model website RFP template

Requests For Proposals can be an effective tool when used well. Avoiding these common mistakes will help your next website RFP get the results you’re seeking.

If you’re embarking on a new website design project and want to use an RFP, Urban Insight provides a free Model Website RFP Template (disclosure: name and email address required to download), which I created in collaboration with several digital agency owners to provide a concise, easy-to-modify template with sample language. We created this template to help avoid these mistakes and help nonprofit organizations think through the website project and help find the best agency partners.

We’ve all been there. Frustrated with maintaining 15 different spreadsheets, 30 documents, and 19 surveys, a nonprofit leader says, “Enough! Let’s just get a data system.” But it’s never that easy, and inevitably many organizations (and their vendors!) wind up struggling in a high-stakes, high-cost maelstrom that satisfies nobody.

What if a bunch of small-to midsized nonprofits, data system vendors, and foundations—all that have experience in rocking a new data system—gave you some pointers? As it turns out, everyone who has had a successful (or even unsuccessful) implementation has similar advice: While you need focused effort on actual vendor selection, you also need to be ready before you start that process.

So here are a few tips to help get you started on a successful path:

1. Stop and ask why you are doing this.

It seems obvious, but many organizations pursue getting a new data system without articulating what is going to get better when they do. Think of it as beginning with the ending: know what success will look like!

2. Give it time.

Implementing a system isn’t a hurry-up affair. Finding the vendor happens later in the process, after you’ve figured out the critical “why” and documented your readiness to move ahead with an implementation.

3. You’ll want your Super Squad.

Building the right team is crucial for success. Organizations that rely on the software vendor to handle everything or that load the entire project on a single person tell tales of painful, unsuccessful implementations. On the other hand, identifying the critical roles of your team ensures that your key players will have time, and that the perspectives of many are included in the process.

4. Get your GPS.

Program models and data maps are critical documents that offer big-picture views of an organization and its data. In turn, they create clear directions and priorities for what information to collect in the new system.

5. Shop around.

Just because a system worked for a partner organization or a colleague doesn’t mean it is the right system for you. Looking around, articulating what you want, and conducting a thoughtful search will help land the right partner. And don’t skip the reference checks!

6. Don’t recreate the wheel.

You can find a fair number of online tools to help get you rolling, and templates to help you do it. Key tools include making sure you have a logic model or program theory document ready to go, possibly doing an organizational analysis like strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats (SWOT), and building some workflow diagrams. You’ve even got a few resources out there that can help you prepare a portfolio – your vendors will love you for it!

  • The “Getting Ready” Playbook, published by Sam Doorman for the Salesforce Foundation. Strong overview to the process and decision-making organizations need to make when considering a new system.
  • The Making Wise Decisions Toolkit, published by the S.H. Cowell Foundation, authored by Public Profit and–full disclosure–me. A free guidebook with connected templates to step through the process, and links to resources produced by our fabulous colleagues.

The takeaway: Knowing yourself is the best first step to finding a great vendor partner. It kinda sounds like dating advice, but then again you are heading into a long-term partnership!

For-profit marketers keep saying video is key to a compelling digital campaign, but for so many nonprofits it seems out of reach It seems too expensive, labor-intensive, and requires equipment and skills that nonprofit marketing teams don’t have. But a new suite of tools are helping nonprofits tell their stories in incredible new ways, through the voices of their constituents. Enter: user-generated video, nonprofit style.

The Sierra Club, a national environmental nonprofit, relied on user-generated videos for its Backyard Day campaign, which encouraged participants to sign up for a virtual 5k or 10k activity, right in their own “backyard” – a park, beach or other outdoor space that they love. We talked with the Sierra Club’s Video Content Producer Nick Jones.

Q: What were some organizational challenges you have around video production?

For Sierra Club, our top challenge with video is trying to fill the needs of all of our initiatives and campaigns. Here’s the thing about video: everybody wants it. That extends to your followers, and even further, to potential followers, but it starts right here at home. I’m lucky to work with dozens of passionate people on countless campaigns, but when each one of those important campaigns has their own video requests and needs, it can be tough to meet the demand.

Q: How are you using a tool to get user-generated content?

We’re using the app Gather Voices for a variety of purposes. The tool allows us to reach members and supporters across the U.S., which means that when we tackle local issues, we’re able to raise up the voices of actual locals — without needing to send a video crew. This adds a lot of credibility to our messaging. Furthermore, the application is built so that we’re able to guide participants in formatting their submissions in a way that’s conducive to editing (reminding them to use part of the question in their answer, for instance, so that each request has context.)

Q: What does video do for your organization that other formats can’t do?

Video is an incredible way to generate awareness and build interest in a cause. Given the way social algorithms are currently configured across various platforms, video often has a better reach for a lower cost, allowing organizations to reach more people for less. I think there’s also a level of relatability that comes with video — people like to connect with something real, and there’s something tangible about video that people latch on to.

Q: What’s next for your video strategy?

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge we face with video is having the supply meet demand. In line with that, the next step for our video strategy involves empowering our other staff with the tools and guidance they need to start making their own contributions to our video output. User-generated video will play a big part in democratizing our production process, and I’m excited to see where the developers take it in the coming year.

Watch the Sierra Club’s Backyard Day video:

If you work in a communications role at a nonprofit, you probably have news and social media alerts set up for keywords relating to your organization’s work – for example, a housing nonprofit might have an alert for terms like “homeless,” “couch surfing,” or “sleeping rough.” But what if the people you’re trying to reach don’t use those words? What if they don’t use words at all?

I’ve been running some experiments in emoji search, both individual and in groups that give added meaning.

Sophia Guevara NTEN author quote about nonprofits adopting their own emojiThe first search I conducted on Twitter was using a “handshake” 🤝. I was able to find posts of users who had tweeted using the same emoji. I decided to complicate the search by adding two and then three emoji together. The second search was a “handshake” and a “briefcase”. There were still a lot of results until I added the third emoji, a graduation cap. One result: a tweet about a diversity event.

Searching emoji on Facebook was less fruitful. Searching for “trophy” 🏆, I came up with three video results that had made use of that emoji in their description. Using the “fries” emoji 🍟 produced a nacho fries recipe. On YouTube, a search for the “donut” emoji 🍩 resulted in a video of donut economics.

Is your nonprofit optimizing for emoji search?

Online marketing consultant Jayson DeMers wrote in an article for Forbes last year that searching for emoji in a search engine would bring up posts that used that emoji, but also posts relating to the topic that emoji represented.

Right now, with emojis usually used as an embellishment for written text, it seems frivolous to think about emoji search or its impact on SEO, but linguists predict that emoji communication will only get more popular and perhaps may even become a language of its own.

After learning more about emoji searching on social media channels, I wondered how one could propose a new emoji or associate an emoji with their own brand. The Unicode Consortium has developed a formal process to do so.

The Oakland As found success adopting the baseball emoji. Is there an emoji that your nonprofit should use?


The battleground

Early in 2017, the Trump administration proposed the removal of LGBT elders from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, a survey that measures how well federally-funded aging programs like Meals on Wheels are reaching older adults.

This effort would effectively erase LGBT elders from critical data collection and decision-making, and there was a limited window of time to comment before the changes were final.

For SAGE—the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults—the threat demanded an urgent response.

Joining the resistance

SAGE had always focused on both advocacy and services, but their advocacy occurred largely behind the scenes; in describing their work, SAGE talked mainly about the services they offer.

Enter Siegelvision—the iconic branding firm, and SAGE’s partner in a new rebranding effort. To Siegelvision, this moment was the perfect opportunity to showcase SAGE’s new look and messaging: the threatened erasure created the perfect storm of circumstances for SAGE to both lead a resistance movement, and redefine the organization in the process.

“We Refuse to Be Invisible,” a statement that resonated early on, became both the rallying cry for this effort and the activist voice SAGE had been looking for.

Creating a movement

SAGE’s task was to fill the commenting period with as many voices as possible demanding that the question on sexual orientation be added back to the survey. Siegelvision dove into thinking about how best to galvanize and activate allies. A high-profile Midtown billboard was floated. But would the right people see it? Would it lead to action? This limited window of opportunity was too critical to leave those questions to chance.

A call with the team at Craft & Commerce—an outcomes-focused digital agency specializing in cause campaigns—yielded a different option: Bring “We Refuse To Be Invisible” to life in the form of short, inspiring social media content, and use paid social to rapidly test, optimize, and scale an online petition call-to-action.

The #WeRefuseToBeInvisible campaign was born.

The effects were immediate. Within days the goal for petition signatures had been reached and then surpassed. By the end of the commenting period, 10,000 allies had signed the petition, and, for greater impact, these digital petitions were printed and delivered to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Printed signatures ready for delivery to HHS

The social media campaign dovetailed with SAGE’s offline advocacy—including op-eds, lobbying, letter-writing parties, partner mobilization, and an impactful presence at Pride marches across the country. This widespread awareness and a critical mass of action was achieved within a relatively scrappy budget, and orchestrated by an organization whose advocacy had heretofore flown under the radar.

Outcome: An unlikely victory

The public outcry of the #WeRefuseToBeInvisible campaign was swift and fervent, and pushed the Trump administration to reverse course. The question on sexual orientation would remain.

For SAGE, the fight isn’t remotely over. LGBT elders are still fighting to be seen and better understood in the context of aging, and new threats to LGBT rights continue to arise. But thanks to a clarified brand voice and a well-run resistance campaign, there now exists a broader, more aware coalition to activate when the next challenge comes along, and a road-tested set of tactics to deploy for success.

Resistance checklist:

  1. Define and streamline the message.
  2. Run a simple campaign (KISS).
  3. Marry great creative with paid digital media for big impact.
  4. Find your most engaged supporters through persona building and testing.
  5. Optimize for results (ads and landing pages).
  6. Rally support of leadership and board.
  7. Be nimble to capitalize on the moment (right time, right place = perfect storm).
  8. Integrate digital with offline (lobbying and in real life).

Social media is not going anywhere. And for nonprofit organizations, having a social presence is necessary for marketing, communication, networking, and brand awareness. If you’re a new organization or your social presence has been lackluster, how exactly do you build a social presence?

The best way to build your social presence involves three key concepts: consistency, clarity, and community. By incorporating each of these principles into a social presence strategy plan, you’ll have consistent content to share, provide a clear message about your work and your mission, and connect to and network with the community you serve.

1. Consistency

Becoming consistent with your social presence is important—not only for making sure that you are posting on a regular basis, but also so you’re consistent with your content. A great way to stay on top of being consistent is to establish a monthly content calendar.

When planning your content calendar for each month, keep these three questions in mind:

  • What type of content do we want to post each week?
  • Which platforms do we want to post on each week?
  • How often do we want to post each week?

Due to the use of algorithms on most social networks, you want to make sure to post at least once each day to help increase the chances of your content being seen. However, this does not mean just posting any picture, quote, or video just for the sake of having the content posted.

Always remember that it is important to be consistent with posting at the times that your audience is most engaged. Your content should have a “call-to-action” for them to comment on, share, or like. Be consistent with using hashtags that relate to the post as well as your organization’s personality.
Tenelle Bailey quote

When building a consistent social presence, you need to also be consistent with your social branding. Your organization has built-in branding items that should be used across social media, such as logos, colors, and font. Make sure to remain consistent with adding these elements (where possible) to establish a clear, branded theme that is woven throughout your social presence.

Additionally, your organization should decide on a few main hashtags that you will use when posting content across social networks. This will allow for your content to create a branded, identifiable, and searchable social presence. For example, when posting to Instagram for SISGI Group, we always try to include the hashtags #sisgigroup, #nonprofitorganization, #socialchange and #nonprofitleadership. Take some time to research the hashtags used most often in your nonprofit’s area of focus and use them frequently.

2. Clarity

Building your social presence also means that you must be clear on the “Why?” when it comes to the reason that your organization is using certain social networks and what type of content should be posted.

There are few things to keep in mind when when setting up your social network profiles, creating, and curating content to share:

  • What does your organization want to accomplish on social media?
  • Who is your target audience, and what are you here to help them with?
  • What voice does your organization want to present on social media? Humorous, conservative, emotional, etc.

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you maintain a clear social media strategy as well as help you connect to the right audience for your work.

3. Community

The concept of building a community on social networks should be one of the main reasons that your business or organization would want to be on social media.

Although social media networks are a great place to promote and bring awareness to your organization, these days most of the social network platforms encourage “authentic community building.”

This means that the information being posted by your business or organization is perceived to be beneficial to potential followers, and is not perceived to be salesy or spammy. Similar to real life, where constantly talking about yourself and how great you is frowned upon, you don’t want to do this in a social networking space either. Think instead of building your social presence by creating two-sided conversations through your posted content.

When you create a consistent social media presence, you’ll find it easier to engage and connect with the community you serve. However, that community will not grow if you do not build upon your consistency and clarity, within your content strategy. Knowing how to balance the content that your organization shares and what content to share will help you to effectively build your social presence while building your community.

Refer to this content sharing chart to help you maintain a balanced content strategy:


Now it’s time to put these tips into action.

  1. Establish a workspace that all of your team can use to upload images, notes, and other useful attachments or information that should be shared. We’ve created a helpful template if you’re looking for inspiration.
  2. Decide on your organization’s branding concepts, social voice (emotional, serious, humorous, etc.), and posting schedule.
  3. Start planning monthly content on the calendar, keeping in mind the 3 C’s: consistency, clarity, and community.
  4. Post and repeat.

It’s time again to evaluate how nonprofits are using the cloud!

NTEN and Microsoft have created a survey to assess the extent of and use of cloud computing in the nonprofit sector. For the purposes of this survey, cloud computing refers to hosted software and/or technology infrastructure, which is shared by many users and accessed online or through a browser. We have conducted research about nonprofit cloud adoption previously, and if you’d like to review the findings from a few years ago, you can download the 2015 report.

The survey includes 28 questions, and it should take you approximately 10 to 14 minutes to complete.

All survey participants have the option to opt into a drawing to win either a scholarship to the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference or for an NTEN course of your choosing!

Help us with the important research that all of us benefit from in our planning and decision-making.


There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.