Will Your Nonprofit’s Online Profiles Win Over Supporters’ Hearts?

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Wherever people find your nonprofit online, its website is where they will look for more information. It’s the best place to tell the full story of your organization and its impact in the community. So be sure your nonprofit’s website is designed in a way to wow your audience. However, there are other places on the web where people are finding information about your nonprofit: online “profiles.”

We’ve provided a short list of key internet sites where potential donors are likely to look for a nonprofit to love. While you may not be able to constantly curate every one of the nonprofit profile platforms out there, here are a few to keep in mind:

GuideStar

Aside from your organization’s website, GuideStar might be the most important profile to keep updated. Most articles giving advice to donors advise using GuideStar, and data from GuideStar populate many other websites, such as GreatNonprofits (sort of a Yelp for nonprofits) and Network for Good.

What started out as the easiest way to find a nonprofit’s Form 990 has turned into a full-featured profile that allows a nonprofit to describe its impact, demonstrate its financial stability over a period of years (eliminating the issues posed by snapshots showing a single year), and showcase its governance practices.

GuideStar’s new profile features provide even more information about a nonprofit’s operations. We recommend all nonprofits review their existing profile on GuideStar to be sure it’s as complete as possible and takes advantage of the new features.

OnGood

Last year, we covered the roll-out of new .ngo and .ong domains that are available only to verified nonprofits (unlike the ubiquitous .org domain that anyone can reserve). When a nonprofit purchases an .ngo/.ong domain it automatically receives a profile in the OnGood global directory. This profile isn’t as full-featured as some others, but as the .ngo domains continue to grow in popularity, your nonprofit should consider reserving the .ngo version of its .org website. Reserving the .ngo and .ong URLs and having access to an OnGood global directory are two good ways to protect your nonprofit’s brand globally.

Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance want donors to research the nonprofits they review before donating. It’s good to know what presence, if any, your nonprofit has on either of these sites, since prospective donors may be looking there. While nonprofits can’t draft their own profiles on these websites, and Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance only “rate” a relatively small number of nonprofits, these sites are still worth keeping your eye on. And for those keeping track of how Charity Navigator is evolving, it still appears to be in the process of rethinking the way it presents information about how nonprofits spend their money and measure their impact.

Facebook

Nonprofit success on Facebook can range from a shout-out that goes viral, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, to just a few fans. Consequently Facebook can be a real asset to a nonprofit’s word-of-mouth outreach efforts, or a real time drain without much ROI. It’s also difficult to keep up with all of the changes to the algorithms that affect how Facebook fans interact with your nonprofit.  As with all social media, whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or whatever new social network springs up while you are reading this, before spending lots of time tweaking your nonprofit’s profile, be sure you are being strategic about it.

Strategy Rules

Not all nonprofits can have an Ice Bucket-sized success story – the odds are probably close to having last week’s winning Powerball ticket - so it’s important to use a strategic lens when evaluating where and when to update your nonprofit’s profile on the many profile platforms that exist. For instance, unless you have the capacity to employ a social media team at your nonprofit (and few do) you will want to limit the number of social networks your nonprofit is active in. Similarly, keep an eye on how often you update the nonprofit’s information on any profile page. You can use this useful social media posting guide to keep your profile posting activities focused and fruitful!  

And don’t be afraid to break up with any social network. You may feel a little guilty about it, especially around Valentine’s Day, but if you can’t find your perfect match, focus on improving your nonprofit’s website, and take some time to give your donors a little Valentine’s Day love, too.  

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