Does your non-profit agency need to re-think its online strategy?

commmgr1As you can probably imagine, I subscribe to a lot of things — everything from eNewsletters to blogs — and I do a lot of reading. It helps me be a better non-profit consultant, and equally important it helps me be a better thought-leader / blogger. This brings me to an article written by Cody Switzer in The Chronicle of Philanthropy titled “75% of Young Donors Turned Off by Out-of-Date Web Sites“.

After reading the article, the first thought that ran through my head was “It certainly is a ‘brave new world’ when it comes to non-profit fundraising.” Attached to this conclusion were memories of conversations I’ve had with countless numbers of board members and fundraising volunteers over the years about what support materials should look like for an agency’s annual campaign.

Perhaps, some of these discussions sound familiar to you:

  • Glossy campaign literature vs. something that looks less expensive
  • Video vs. no video
  • Content focused more on client stories vs. focused more on agency information

When I close my eyes after reading Cody’s article, I can almost see him reprising the role of Paul Revere but this time riding a keyboard and yelling:

The Millennials are coming!

The Millennials are coming!

Sure, they are just starting to trickle through the front door of your fundraising program, but you better start getting ready. Why? Because their expectations are very different.

Forget about the traditional questions that I shared above about glossy literature, support video and content. While the Chronicle of Philanthropy story does a good job of telling us that Millennials want to see your webpage, it really goes much further than just having an online presence. Right?

commmgr2Cody’s article about the Millennial Impact Report is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, I bet your agency is already asking itself questions such as:

  • How often do we refresh our website content?
  • Is the content on our website the right balance between showing donor how we’re putting their money to work vs. showing donors that our agency is healthy and a good investment?
  • Are there too many words on our site? Are there too few pictures and videos?
  • Is our website mobile-friendly?
  • What does our online community look like beyond the website? (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blog, etc) And how often do those platforms get fresh content?
  • What target audiences and niche groups are each of your online platforms focused on? And how does this impact your content creation?

Of course, ALL of these questions beg one big question . . .

Who is doing all of this for your agency?

The simple answer to this question is . . . your organization needs to look at hiring what is now commonly being called a “Community Manager“.

commmgr3This person isn’t a “technology person” working in your IT department. In fact, they don’t need to have many of those skill sets because you either already have an a) IT person on your payroll, b) relationship with an IT consulting firm or c) utilize “in-the-box” technology (e.g. Press Publisher,, etc) that comes with a toll-free help desk when things get dicey.

Yes, I know . . . You don’t have any money.

My response? You better figure it out and find some money soon to hire this person.

Why? Because “The Millennials are coming! The Millennials are coming!

The days of tossing lots of text about your agency online are over. Let me bottom line it for you like my partner does for me all the time . . .

Fundraising is evolving . . . adapt your online strategies.

Some of you are probably saying “Wait! Tell me more about that community manager position. What do they look like? What type of skills should they possess? Where do I find them to build an applicant pool?

The following links will take you to great online resources that speak to the issue of what you should look for when hiring your Community Manager:

Does your non-profit organization current hire a community manager to handle your online strategy? If so, what skill sets do you think are more important than others? Do your fundraising program have an online fundraising plan that spells out strategies and tactics including how your fundraising professional(s) interact with your community manager?

Please scroll down to the comment box and share a few of your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on August 1, 2013, in Fundraising, nonprofit, resource development, technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You may want to also check out this free online video about NFPs learning from their failures. I love Beth Kanter. She is an amazing social media guru, and her words are relevant to this blog post and your non-profit’s fundraising and online strategies (and impending failures):

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