I've had the pleasure of working with a number of non-profit organizations and many have made great strides in effectively using the internet and email to raise awareness for their organization, communicate to their constituents and drive donations.
The web offers fantastic communication tools for hardly any cost. Non-profit organizations should invest in their website, online marketing and email strategy in order to get maximum return on investment.
This will be the first, in a series of topics related to non-profits, so be sure to check back over the coming weeks.
#1 - Clean, professional design with quality imagery!! Many charitable organizations lack a simple, clean, design and many don't use imagery, that's a huge mistake. A picture is worth 10,000 words when it comes to a website. Often organizations use college interns, or someone volunteers to build a website, which is very kind, but not always the best choice. There are designers that are both good and cost effective, and some organizations that specialize and give discounts to non-profits. Find them! Here are two charitable sites that I think have good designs, both very different, but nice and clean.
Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland -- www.bigsisters.bc.ca
Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver -- www.ugm.ca
#2 - Updated, clean and relevant content - whether it's news items, a blog, changes in imagery or tweaks to the design, information articles, or perhaps an active forum (must be active) - give people something new when they go to the website - keep it fresh. Even your most ardent supporters will stop going to your website if it stays static.
#3 - Donate Now - this is a *must* have on any non-profit website. It should only cost about 2-3 hours of web development time (sometimes less) and it can be up and running.
#4 - How contributions make a difference and thank you to our recent (or largest) donors - this is key, when someone makes a donation, big or small, where is the money going to and why not (if permission is given) put their name on your website, for the week, for the month, or for the day (depending on the size of the list). With a good content management system adding the names is simple and a nice gesture to your donors.
#5 - Upcoming events - Even if your particular organization doesn't have an event coming up, find a few events that are related to your topic, or that our constituents might be interested in and make sure you get the word out.