Avoid Implementation Paralysis: 8 Steps to Turning Nonprofit Strategy Into Campaign Success
If you've done any strategic communications work, the implementation phase that follows can be challenging.
You’ve spent weeks, sometimes months, creating a comprehensive communications plan only to freeze during the campaign execution. So often, we see nonprofits create amazing marketing strategies that die in the execution phase.
The team sticks to old habits. Reacting to gut instincts instead of strategizing and relying on data. By the end of the year, you’re wondering why donations are flatlining and your campaign never took off.
We know it’s hard and there are a lot of ways things can go wrong.
So, we've created a guide to break the paralysis and build effective and lasting campaigns that meet your organizational goals.
1: Take the lead
Why do great communications plans die? Most often, it's from lack of leadership.
I'm not calling out the directors and CEO's of the nonprofit world. We're saying someone, anyone, needs be captaining the ship and taking the lead on the project.
The team lead needs to define goals and activities and make sure deadlines are met. Always ask, “who’s in charge here?”
2. Huddle Up with Other Organizational Teams
You might be captain but to deliver you need to get everyone on board. It’ll save you time and energy in the long run.
Buy in from different teams in your organization is hard, but it’s a critical element to success.
We find the best approach is asking teams about their pain points, instead of coming in trying to change things immediately.
Ask them about what their goals are, and where they are getting stuck. What audiences and personas are they trying to work with.
Additional hints on how to get everyone onboard:
Share what you've learned during your planning phase to teach them underlying communications strategy and messaging concepts. This helps open minds.
Talk through the strategy and its direction. Frame as a solution to their frustrations.
Bring together operations, development, programs, and comms teams for their big picture thoughts.
Be open to feedback and follow up with steps you’ve taken to address their ideas.
3. Do a 360° Communications Review
If you recently updated your personas or messaging, take stock of the materials and engagement strategies that you are currently using.
To see lasting change, you need to know your weaknesses. Start by doing a honest audit of your current communications materials and messaging. Here are some tips to start your review:
Review your messaging
Are we clearly stating the problem using the persona's "why"?
Does my solution statement include a compelling impact message?
Are you using jargon in your messaging?
Is my team speaking with one voice?
Review your engagement strategy
Think about acquisition and engagement. How to move your personas through an engagement pipeline. Ask questions like:
Do our materials have a compelling call to action?
Where do we find new supporters (social, events, conferences)?
What is their "why" and is it integrated into our messaging?
Get a fresh perspective
If you have worked on your messaging for too long, sometimes it's hard to spot where the gaps are. Think about bringing in a pair of fresh eyes!
Bring in a supportive, curious, and creative outsider to review your communications. You want them to make things better not just point out the gaps.
Ask your supporters (new and existing) what they think using surveys and stakeholder interviews. What excites them and what is falling flat?
4. Test your messaging
Is your best messaging falling flat?
There are a lot of ways that you can start to test new messaging to get quick feedback on your updated communications strategy. This can be even more effective if you can segment your testing based on persona. Here are a few tools to start testing.
Google Grants provides $10,000 a month in free pay per click advertising on their search interface. Start to test your messaging in your ad copy. You'll quickly start to see the winner.
We particularly like to test messaging on high-volume campaigns because that will allow you to see meaningful results quickly. Review your account and try to connect your campaigns to your personas, and start testing.
If you have some budget to pay, social ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn can also be a great way to test ads.
We recommend using an engagement campaign with content to test this messaging to cold audiences. If you have a remarketing list, or custom audience that you can target these can also be extremely effective in driving results.
Email A/B Testing
Testing email subject lines and internal copy is also an effective way to test messaging. It's even more effective when you have really great segmentation in your email lists.
When testing, compare your open rates on based on your subject line, and your click through rates for your email copy.
IMPORTANT: To get results that are significant, you should only test element at a time - subject line or email copy. Do not test both email copy and subject lines together. Then you will never know if it was the subject line or the copy that drove the results.
Website A/B Testing
Your website is also a great place to test messaging. Using tools like Google Optimize or Crazy Egg, it's really easy to test the copy on your website without spending a fortune.
When testing, try to pick pages that are critical to getting individuals to take the next step in your engagement process. This could be a campaign landing page, a program page or your homepage. To get results quickly, you need to find a page that has a lot of traffic.
5. Hold Yourself Accountable
Facing a constant concern of project drift? Even the best laid plans can drift off course. Keep yourself in check by keeping your board, funders, and constituents in the loop. They’ll trust you more if you keep them involved at every stage. Remember they care about the big picture of where you’re heading, not your task list.
Watch my Facebook interview with Rootid about how Root & Rebound successfully navigated implementation paralysis and held our teams accountable.
6. Be Realistic
After a learning experience or strategic planning experience, it's natural to feel like this is a priority to start NOW!
Then reality sets in and we realize that there are million other things going on inside of our organization.
Be practical when defining your project scope and timeline. Here are some tips on how to succeed:
Create your project team - put together a group that's no larger than 4 people together to work on the implementation. Assign roles to that team based on everyone's strengths.
One Step at a time - There's no need to change everything at once. Pick one campaign or one segment of your work, and map out a process to change the collateral, messaging and design as needed. All to often we get overwhelmed if we try to do it all at once.
Assign a project lead - The most important role in keeping things on time and moving forward is a project lead. Be clear that being a project lead doesn't mean they do all the work, they just keep tabs on what needs to be done, and who is responsible for what.
Use the right interal project tools to communicate - Email is a tough way to keep track of tasks and project progress. There are a ton of great free project management tools out there (we love Asana) that help keep communications and responsibilities clear. Find a tool that works well for you, but ditch the email!
Realistic project schedule - You know your workload best. Do your best to project an end date, then add 20% for a buffer.
7. Measure Your Success
Are you learning the right lessons or making the same mistakes?
Not only does it give us insights about where we should be spending our time and what works, it will also help us communicate our impact better.
A few things to consider:
Get Google Analytics Goals Set up - Almost everyone has Google Analytics setup, but few people have setup goals. Goals help you see when users on your website take the action you want them to (think make a donation, sign-up for email alerts, read an article, etc.). Setting up goals is critical to understanding which marketing channels and campaigns are performing best.
Google UTM Tags - These are not that well known, but Google UTM tags help us get more granular about which marketing channels are performing best during a campaign. You can then look at your data dashboard to see if your Facebook campaign, email or SEO are driving the most results. Then you can devote more resources to those channels!
Sometimes people are scared to measure because they think it will point out failure. Be realistic with your team that failure is not always bad. It merely shows that you need to make changes to what you’re doing. It’s not a disaster.
8. Maintain Engagement with Surveys & Stakeholder Interviews
Worried your audience will drop off? Make sure your content continues to resonate with your audience motivations by running surveys and stakeholder interviews. It’s a great way to keep the conversation going.
BrandUP Award Winner Root & Rebound - 1 Year Later
Nominations and applications are now open for the 2018 brandUP, a free 2-day intensive marketing and communication workshop co-presented with Full Circle Fund. Last year's Awardee Root & Rebound has now had some time to reflect on the experience, so we sat down to chat with them to provide helpful tips to this year's participants.
1. What is Root & Rebound currently focused on as an organization?
Founded in 2013, Root & Rebound (R&R) is a California-based reentry advocacy center that creates leading-edge solutions to one of the most pressing challenges of our time - mass incarceration - working to help people break out of poverty into freedom and economic opportunity, and alleviating the heavy personal and societal costs of our bloated and broken justice system.
Leveraging lessons learned from our California long-term work & our growing national collaborations & projects, our core initiatives have grown over the last year to include expanding to 2 additional sites with California; deepening our direct services work, expanding our legal clinics & hotline services; running employment clinics & educating employers, pushing for occupational licensing reform, & building a statewide prison/jail based curriculum.
Nationally, we are growing our footprint and initiatives, with 7 state-specific toolkits & beginning a national expansion strategy that will bring our model to key, high-need states in the coming years.
2. Through a communications lens, what have you been focused on over the last year and how is that supporting your overall organizational goals?
R&R has invested heavily in our PR and Communications strategy on both national and community levels to raise awareness about second chance opportunities through partnership and coalition building, educating employers, policy makers and journalists, and engaging corporations like Facebook to support this work as we explore our model for scale.
We are also in the process of building the first ever reentry legal wiki and sharing it across the country.
3. How did your experience with Rootid and our BrandUP Award inform your communications strategy?
Our experience with Rootid allowed us to think critically and holistically about the ways in which we communicate with our key stakeholders - donors, partners, and people directly impacted by incarceration. It allowed us to strip back our assumptions and dive into the way these people live their lives and how we could engage with them on a journey of discovery about Root & Rebound.
Now, we go much deeper and we have concrete engagement strategies for our key stakeholders whereas before we would keep a more broad and sporadic approach to our communications and PR and community connection.
4. Did anything change in your communications and processes from before to after your brandUP experience?
Our communications strategy has definitely expanded to include larger views of our audience and the ways we can help them to understand and see the value our work. Additionally, having realized the importance and potential in our communications, we have now made it a priority to align both the programs and development team in our communications strategy. Now our communications strategies are wider-spanning and effective for both teams.
We have also more deeply understood the impact of storytelling by launching a 48,000 barriers campaign in conjunction with Valerie at Rootid at our first ever Empowerment Summit in Spring 2017, which allowed us to gather quotes and stories that we can use going forward. This has deeply informed our social media communications on an ongoing basis
5. How have you integrated the work into your marketing materials and planning?
On the programs side, we have:
Leveraged Rootid’s design support to streamline our programs materials with new hotline cards, updated program flyers, and the ongoing creation of partnerships packets. With the hotline cards, we can easily pass out digestible information to the people we serve, at clinics, trainings, etc. As we ramp up our direct services across the state, this level of synthesised information is more critical than ever.
We are also re-creating the R&R website to more strongly reflect our growing programs and make sure that information is easy to read, digestible, and clear in how users can engage with our services.
We have also heavily leveraged Rootid’s consulting advice to promote our paid services to partnerships across the Bay Area and have secured three new long term contracts to date.
On the fundraising side, we have:
Committed to engaging more deeply with our existing individual donors and increasing our network even further, by creating a Circle of Friends to support R&R either through donations, leveraging their platform, or their skills. Over time, we hope to build a key initiative that draws people into the organization and creates long-term ambassadors for our work.
More heavily focused on sharing our stories of success to our wider audience via newsletters and social media to show the work we are doing and the impact it is having.
Finally, we have streamlined our communications strategy between the programs and the development team so there is a cohesive calendar and content strategy between them. We have also hired two Americorps VISTAs - one Development and Communications VISTA and one Community Partnerships VISTA to execute on this strategy and build our communications content.
6. Was there anything that was unexpected or surprised you that came out of the work we did together?
I think it’s easy to come into a consulting project saying you have an urgent need for concrete materials and plans and you need your online website hits to increase by X%, but the biggest value add for us was the thought partnership and the focus on approach of listening, hearing, and sharing of experiences. Rootid showed us ways to go beyond a communications strategy, printed or web content, and instead get to the heart of our mission and impact which lies directly in human experiences of reentry and the daily barriers they face.
By focusing squarely on elevating those experiences, we were able to come up with a thoughtful and strategic communications strategy that aligned with our mission and that brought the organization’s development and programs team together to streamline our work, elevate the voices of those we serve, and really demonstrate what really matters to the wider public - which is breaking down barriers to opportunity for all Americans with criminal records.
7. In what ways do you think we can use this process to help organizations like yours further their missions?
I think the most valuable piece for our team was having strategic thought partners that could dig into our model and where we were and where we were trying to go and help figure out simple steps and best practices to achieving those goals. E.g. focus on your stakeholders journey before thinking about creating materials tailored to them.
A helpful way to approach it might be to focus on some big questions upfront that might be even higher level than communications strategies necessarily and then spend time digging into ideas and resources on a macro level. A lot of Rootid’s value add can be the ability to see above the micro day-to-day of a nonprofit professional’s workload and allow them the space and support to engage critically and thoughtfully with the challenges they are facing and how they can get to the end result in new ways.
8. Since we are changing the format of BrandUP to now be a 2-day intensive covering the material we did but with 12 nonprofits, what advice would you give to this next co-hort so that they can be prepared for and get the most out of their experience?
Ask as many questions as possible! Don’t be afraid to share the small and big questions and the real challenges, time and capacity constraints you face in communicating with your stakeholders. Chances are Rootid will be able to draw on experiences with other nonprofits that have wrestled with the same challenges and draw on their own expertise and experiences to bring solutions to life.
Be ambitious! Talk about where you want to be as an organization and what you’re trying to achieve in the next 5 -10 years, every step you take now with your communications is a step further to making that impact a reality.
How To Save Your Google Ad Grants Account From Being Deactivated
As of January 1st, 2018, Google Grant Ad accounts that do not meet updated requirements could end up being suspended or cancelled!
Assuming they are strictly enforcing the new AdWords Grant policies, you have until the end of February to get things straightened out.
There are a lot of conversations online about the purpose of these changes. Regardless of why Google put these into place, it is worth taking the time to make adjustments to save your $10,000 per month grant.
If you are already actively managing your nonprofit AdWords account, there might not be much you need to do.
But, if you are like many nonprofits that have not looked at their account in a long time, there may be significant work to be done.
This blog post will break down the new policies so you can understand them better, and provide you with some ideas on how to protect your account from being suspended.
AdWords Account Structure
Google’s main concerns have always been that their search engine users have a good experience and that ads are actually relevant to their search. The updated account structure policies make their best practices mandatory.
Ad Grants accounts must have specific geo-targeting that is specific to your nonprofit. No advertising in New York, if you’re an nonprofit serving Los Angeles, CA.
Ad Grants AdWords accounts must have at least 2 active ad groups per campaign, each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active text ads. This is actually a standard best practice. You should have 10-15 keywords per ad group, and we recommend 3 ads per group.
In the past, bidding strategies were restricted to Manual CPC and Google forced nonprofits to have a max cost-per-click (CPC) of $2. Now, they have removed the max CPC requirement. Instead your bidding strategy must be set to Maximize Conversions. In order to achieve this, you must setup goals in your AdWords account.
Ad Grants AdWords accounts must have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. Again, this is just best practice. Sitelink extensions, and other extensions, are a great way to have your ads take up more of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). We recommend our clients use all of the available AdWords extensions that are pertinent to their organization, and many of them are.
The skinny: Nothing here is really hard to achieve, and you should be following these best practices already. If you are able to meet these requirements, it will help with the following requirements that are based on account performance.
How can we meet these criteria? Follow the links above to the Google documentation, and they will demonstrate the process of setting these things up. If you need help, our team is happy to walk you through it.
Stick to Mission Based AdWords Campaigns
New Policies About Keywords You CANNOT Use:
Branded words that you don’t own, like “YouTube” or “Google” or names of newspapers or other organizations
The skinny: Using brand terms that are not yours, or using overly general single keywords, like “tree,” are now being removed from acceptable advertising. Not only do these practices go against the spirit of the grant, they’re also ineffective. They weren’t doing your organization’s acquisition and engagement strategies any favors anyway. So, just pause them. No major loss!
The new quality score policy is a very important change, but it can be dealt with using best practices we will talk about below.
How to make adjustments:
First, remove any single keywords or generic keywords you are advertising on. There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but as I mentioned above, you are not going to lose a ton of valuable traffic to these terms.
Second, quality score is really important. If you had a successful AdWords account before, you likely had quality score in the 6-8 range, or perhaps higher.
If that is not the case, then there is some work to be done. A few hints:
a) Make sure you have very targeted Ad Groups that include ad copy with the keywords in title of the ads. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) is one of the main contributing factors to Quality Score, so if you have ad copy that closely reflects the search queries, you ads are going to have better CTR.
b) Make sure your ads are linking to relevant landing pages. Do not just link to your homepage. For example, if you have an ad about volunteering, link to your Get Involved page. The landing page copy should focus on a similar topic to your ad copy. For the best outcome, I would recommend building adgroup-specific landing pages to be really efficient with this.
Click-Through-Rate & AdWords Account Performance
Accounts must maintain a 5% Click-Through Rate (CTR).
Your account will be cancelled if your CTR is below 5% for 2 consecutive months.
You may request your account to be reinstated after you’ve adjusted your keywords to bring your account into compliance.
If you can't meet the requirements above, you may pause your AdWords campaigns and use AdWords Express, which automatically structures your account.
The skinny: This policy may be the most difficult new policy to meet.
If you follow best practices and stick to advertising smartly, then you can do it—just note that the average CTR throughout all of AdWords is 1.90%, so you need to make sure that you or someone else is being an active manager of the account.
How to make adjustments:
First, check your keyword quality scores. This is a good indication on the health of your account. Keyword quality scores are based on a formula that Google won’t share. However, most experts say it is composed mostly of keyword CTR and the relevance of your landing page content to the keyword.
If you have a high quality score on keywords and your ad groups are setup to be very targeted, that’s going to get you a long way towards this 5% account CTR requirement.
If your account has grown a little wild and is advertising in too many areas, your CTR may have dropped a little. Prune it back for now by pausing some of the less successful campaigns, and then make a strategy on how to move forward after you meet this policy.
Second, one trick to help with this is to make sure you have a “brand” campaign. This is where you advertise on your organization’s name or derivatives of it. These types of campaigns get really high CTRs and can help bring up your account average.
Some Rootid clients reach 75%+ CTR on brand-based ad groups
Third, always be testing.
As we mentioned before, each ad group should have at least 3 ads running at all times. After about 100 impressions, see how these ads compare. Pause the ones that are not performing less well and copy/edit the best performing ads to test more.
Do the same with keywords. If you have 10-15 keywords in an ad group, keep the winners activated and remove the keywords that are not performing well.
Lastly, follow the best practice of organizing your ad groups and using common keywords in your ad copy headlines. This will make sure that your ads are performing well.
Ad Grants Website Policy
Your organization must own the domain that users land on when they click your ad.
Your site must have a robust and clear description of your organization and mission. Each web page must have sufficient information for visitors to understand your organization’s purpose.
Your website must function well and not contain broken links.
Your ads, keywords, and website may not make claims that promise results after a consultation, service, or purchase. Claims on your website must cite verifiable references to provide transparency to users.
Commercial activity must not be the main purpose of your website. This includes sales of products and services, consultations, lead generation, and providing referrals.
Any limited commercial activities must support your non-monetary mission.
Advertising on your organization’s website must be relevant to your mission and not be obtrusive to users.
Your website may not host Google AdSense
The skinny: In other words, do not sell stuff that does not go to help your mission, and make sure that your website is being managed reasonably well.
Note that Google really hates broken links (404 Errors) on your website. It makes for a bad user experience, and if you have a lot of broken links, your website is probably not performing well in organic search. So, it is in your own interest to get those fixed.
Both Drupal and Wordpress have plugins that can monitor these 404 Errors and help you fix them. If you are on a different platform, use Google Search Console to monitor broken links.
How to make adjustments: There are a lot of automated tools that will give your site a technical review. If you do not feel confident, then hire a technical expert to review your site for you.
I Don't Have Time to Manage My Google Ad Grants Account!
Nonprofits are constantly strapped for staff resources. Fortunately, there are two options if you do not have the time to manage your grant in house:
Hire an agency, like Rootid, to help you. It may sound like an added expense, but a good agency can increase online traffic by 5,000 visits a month, and raise over $10,000 a year from their services. An agency with expertise in this area can provide more return on your investment than most in-house staff can.
If you just want to automate the account, Google will allow you to use an AdWords Express account. This type of account requires fewer man hours because Google controls your account structure and the ad campaigns. The only thing that you need to do is write the ad copy, and indicate the landing page. Google's smart machines do the rest!
Need help getting a strategy together? Contact Rootid. We'll review your account for free.
Happy New Year From Rootid & Exciting Announcements!
Though it began with a sense of confusion and uncertainty, we can’t help but feel inspired by how our clients, friends, and partners have joined together to make a difference around the world.
In 2018, we continue forward with the momentum of our collective beliefs toward more equitable and healthy communities that celebrate diversity.
Growing Beyond Just Websites & Print Materials
Last year, Rootid continued to grow our rockstar team as we expanded our service offerings to nonprofits.
Our team now spans 3 time zones and offers more than just print, web design and custom development services.
Our continued expansion provides a more holistic approach to nonprofit marketing and communications that helps our clients engage their communities through authentic and strategic brand development, more thoughtful and effective messaging, and multi-channel marketing management.
We also formed a major strategic partnership with Full Circle Fund, where we helped launch the Nimble Nonprofit Series, capacity building workshops that serve Bay Area nonprofits and community members. Valerie Neumark Mickela, Rootid Co-Founder, also joined their Board of Directors this past fall.
We Love Our Clients!
We're still fueled by our inspiring clients.
Their impact around the world is literally changing lives inc communities, influencing policies that shape our future, and building a more equitable society where everyone can thrive.
In 2017, we refreshed some inspiring brands, including:
We’re determined to serve more nonprofits, both established organizations and 'nimble' newcomers.
In addition to continuing to grow our 360-degree approach to customized marketing services, Rootid is excited about a new product to be released in 2018 that will help smaller nonprofits get started with a powerful online marketing tool set at an affordable price. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements!
Our team is also committed to giving back to the nonprofit community through in-kind services. Last year, we completed the 3rd Annual brandUP campaign, by providing $10,000 in marketing services to Root & Rebound. Our team is determined to continue to be a catalyst for big ideas and great nonprofits.
This year, we will expand the scope of brandUP to impact even more nonprofits. Stay tuned for our 2018 announcement!
Even nonprofits with established identities need to reevaluate from time to time in order to stay relevant. In many cases, a brand refresh may be necessary.
What is a Brand Refresh?
Simply put, a brand refresh is a makeover. The goal is to enhance your organization’s image, while staying recognizable—but how do we go about that?
Steps for a Brand Refresh:
Review your core values. Go back to the beginning. Remember all of those questions you sat down and asked yourself the first time around? It’s time to revisit them to see where your answers now differ.
Conduct stakeholder interviews. As a general rule, it’s good to do these once a year, as a tool to gauge the effectiveness of your mission, outreach, and short/long-term goals. Getting feedback from stakeholders (internal staff, your board of directors, community members, etc.) will help you determine which aspects of your brand need addressed.
Example question: Using a few keywords, how do you want people to see your brand?
Redefine your target audiences and personas. Determining your target audience was tough the first time around. Thankfully, you should have a better idea of who is most receptive to your message now. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start grouping common characteristics to create personas—or profiles of imaginary people.
Consider what they want from you and what you want from them in return. How can you guide them from being unaware of your organization to a loyal brand advocate? Keep fleshing them out.
Develop content that will interest them at various stages in their journeys.
Update your visual language. Mood boards are an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights, and clarify communication. They help visually explain a feeling and, in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand. They’re where your brand refresh will be most evident, especially if your organization adopts a new logo.
Tweak your messaging. Great content is critical to achieving higher conversion rates and engaging user experiences. Based on your profiles’ points of view, consider what tone of organizational “voice” would best reach, engage, and compel community members and donors.
Audit your marketing materials. You’re almost there! It’s time to look at your print materials, event collateral, social media channels, newsletter templates, website, etc. Are they achieving measurable results? Do they need to be updated to reflect any of the aforementioned steps?
Update your assets. Your assets are your brand messengers. As such, it’s important to maintain cohesive marketing materials in print and online. Doing so will lead to more donations and more volunteer signups, so be sure to keep them up-to-date.
For a successful brand refresh, you’ll need a look at where you came from, where you are now, and where you want to go from here. The adjustments will take work, but the end results should be well worth it!
Digital marketing has stolen the spotlight in recent years, thanks to its accessibility and reach, but does that mean print is obsolete? Not according to a Two Sides survey:
“88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices.”
The key is understanding when and how to leverage that preference. Print collateral is best used in strategic settings, where you’re in a position to provide something tangible—something that either lends credibility (banners, signs, swag, etc.) or encourages engagement (programs, forms, business cards, etc.) Take Full Circle Fund’s yearly UNITE event, for example.
By utilizing print, we were able to set a festive and informative tone at SF Jazz. Everything was branded and strategically placed—from the stickers on the mini-wine bottles to the programs highlighting Full Circle Fund’s grant cycle.
Even our new foldout business cards had to pull their weight, that night. In addition to providing basic contact information, they also listed our services, featured a client testimonial, and encouraged follow-up with a tear-off ticket (redeemable for a drink with a Rootid founder).
That’s not to say digital didn’t play a role, of course. No one can dispute social media’s role in creating awareness.
The point is, by recognizing print and digital’s individual advantages, we were able to help Bay Area guests discover and celebrate social change in their community. That, in and of itself, is a huge success!
If you're still putting out annual reports the old fashioned way—pulling stacks of statistics, rounding up designers, blowing your budget on print copies, etc.—this post might be an eye-opener for you. Not only are annual report websites generally less expensive, they're also easy to fill with impactful media, easy to deliver, and easy to track. Plus, they're much more conscientious of the planet.
Letting your web team produce a professional site for this year's accomplishments could be a great step into the future for your non-profit—but don't take our word for it. Check out these reports from businesses and organizations who've already adopted the process to impressive results:
gridalternatives.org/annual-report-15 GRID Alternatives' adopted an online annual report format a few years ago and now simply updates the stats, graphics and stories each year with new information...saving time and money. Their annual report is styled in a familiar, almost print-like layout.
echoinggreen.org/2014 Echoing Green's 2014 report used floating side navigation to make it easy for visitors to jump to the information they were most interested in.
shopify.com/2013 Shopify's 2013 report summarized their news with an interactive timeline.
mailchimp.com/2012/ MailChimp's 2012 report featured an interactive element that allowed visitors to browse user statistics by demographic.
lemonly.com/2016report Lemonly encouraged visitors to interact with their 2016 report, using a circular beam of "light" to reveal facts.
2016.flama.is/ Flama laid out their 2016 report as a click-through slideshow.
one.org/annualreport/ One's bold use of color and typography combined with compelling photography and language really makes their annual report shine.
Styles may vary, but all successful annual report websites have two things in common: professional presentation and convenience. Sounds like a win, win! Need help with your next Annual Report? Drop us a line!
You may be getting a lot of new site visitors, but are they signing up for your newsletter, an upcoming event or even donating to your latest campaign?
Creating an effective and directive call-to-action is the key to converting site visitors to more engaged community members.
Lead visitors to take the next step with your organization through a high-value offer. Think about each of your target audiences and what would really spur them to action. Appeal to what brought them to your website in the first place.
As a nonprofit, you're offering to help people make a difference alongside you. That's a big deal! Whether you want to direct visitors toward a donation page or a volunteer form, toward a newsletter signup or an event RSVP, you're going to leverage the same key elements each time:
An attention-grabbing header (sometimes accompanied by a brief, straightforward explanation)
A visually striking call-to-action (CTA)
Take Habitat for Humanity, for example. Their homepage leads with an emotional appeal, asking visitors to donate to hurricane recovery. The use of imagery reinforces the need, and its offset by a bold, contrasting box. The verbiage is action-oriented and straightforward.
Another great example is the ACLU. Midway through their "DACA Is Ending. But the Movement Is Not." blog post, a bright red box links the content (legislation affecting immigrants) with the offer (fighting for immigrants' rights). This tailored approach is seen throughout their site and is an effective means of targeting.
Did you notice something else these two had in common? An implied urgency. They don't ask you to consider making a donation; they urge you to donate now! The need is real, the world is turning. If you don't help, who will?
A few more examples of effective, verb-laden CTAs:
Join the fight!
Make a difference in 2017!
Remember, the most important thing is that you cater to your audience and what will help them take the next step—whatever that may be. If you know a page will attract people at two different stages in the decision-making process, it's okay to tier your offers.
Look at Contra Costa College:
Some prospective students may be ready to apply, but others may just be starting their research. By incorporating two CTAs, the college accommodates both audiences at once.