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5 Tech Tips to Improve Your Nonprofit Communications

5 Tech Tips to Improve Your Nonprofit Communications

Nancy E. Schwartz | Getting Attention

1. Improve the ways in which you gather personal information and email addresses from stakeholders.

Tip: Don’t just ask for email addresses when you ask your audiences to subscribe to your e-news. Gather name, street address, zip code, how they heard about you. Take it one step further to do some quick surveying on issues.

Tip: Think more like a business in terms of figuring out the sources of these leads. You want more of them.

Tip: Ask for an email address when your web users request a PDF download.

Benefit: You’ll learn more about how various outreach techniques are working to validate (or not) marketing expenses and impact.

2. Publish plain text as well as HTML format email newsletters.

Insight: Many of your readers are likely to prefer HTML e-newsletters, so publish in both HTML and plain text versions. The format makes it much easier for readers to act. Studies show that HTML format performs much better in terms of click-throughs, forward to friend, etc. (NOTE: Readers, there is conflicting data on this last point.)

Benefit: Better engagement with audiences, by giving them a choice of format and the opportunity to take action with a click.

Caution: Don’t forego your text version. Many readers still prefer text.

3. Dive into blog publishing.

Definition: A blog (an abbreviation of weblog) is a website that serves as an online journal, updated very frequently with commentary on one or more topics. Blog authors - called bloggers -- commonly provide links to related information, with commentary. Because of their low barrier to entry (blogs are easy and cheap to implement), blogs are proliferating in the nonprofit sector.

Insight: The “blogsphere” is becoming huge, with content feeds (RSS readers deliver blog content to interested audiences) growing at a rapid pace. Blogs are a great way to disseminate content in a timely way.

Benefit: Some high-impact ways to put your blog to use for your nonprofit include:

• Serializing content, such as daily reports from an oceanographer on an expedition or an advocacy campaign hard at work.

• Building community by providing a venue for multiple voices (staff and/or members, experts or others).

• Critiquing events or news items in your issue areas, as they occur.

• Reinforcing content disseminated via other communications vehicles — broadcast, print or online.

• Providing personal perspectives, which enable your audiences to get to know your nonprofit’s staff members. Emphasize the people in your organization to strengthen relationships with your audiences.

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