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Start-Up Nonprofit Marketing Checklist: What to do First Online (Part 1 of 3)

Most of the nonprofit marketing I’ve been involved with have come from established nonprofits that have some level of online marketing or fundraising budget. However, I do come across brand new nonprofits from time-to-time that are just getting started from scratch with little to no resources. They just filed their 501(c)(3) paperwork and now are in the mode of determining what comes next in terms of marketing. So, this article is speaking to my newly formed nonprofits:

You have a tremendous passion for a cause and have recently started up a nonprofit. Congratulations are in order to you for taking something meaningful and putting action behind it. You’ve already taken a step that many were too fearful to take. And though the cause lies at the center of your organization, there’s a tremendous effort involved with getting people to know your organization exists. Marketing may not be your forte, much less digital marketing, and it can be intimidating just figuring out where to start. There are three key online marketing channels that you need to establish, which are your website, social media, and email.

Why a Website? There are several reasons your website is vital to your nonprofit, but I’ll only cover a few here.

· Your online home- Your website is where people (donors and constituents) can go to learn about who you are, what you do, why you do it, how to receive help FROM your nonprofit, and how to provide help TO your nonprofit (donations and volunteers). Your website must check all of these boxes.

· Authority- Your site establishes your nonprofit as an authority. When you start a nonprofit, one of the first questions people will ask is “what’s your website?” If you don’t have one, potential donors may question your authenticity and how serious you really are about your nonprofit. From a donor’s perspective, they may think that if you don’t even have a basic foundation like a website, then how well can they trust you to be a good steward of the money the donate to you.

· Amplifies Impact — By having a site, people can share it with others in the media, newspapers, advertisements, social media, and more. Of course, there’s still the effort of marketing the website to get these different entities toshareyour website, but if you don’t have one, then it limits your nonprofit’s visibility.

What to do: The task of building a website can seem overwhelming if you have little to no experience. First, take a deep breath (big breath in)…now breathe out (ahhhhh). You got this! You can certainly partner with a website designer and pay anywhere from $5,000-$50,000 for a good website; however, most start-up nonprofits don’t have that type of budget. Here are some low-cost solutions.

· Website Creation Platforms– There are many different companies that offer website creation services. Because you’re just starting out, I’d recommending going with a low-cost platform like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. All three of these options have “drag and drop” website templates that even people with zero design skills can understand. I’d also recommend that you upgrade to a premium service with these sites, which eliminates their branding from being on your site and also unlocks features like Google Analytics. In addition, premium services often include a free domain name (yournonprofit.org), so that’s a bonus. In the event you already registered your domain name on a site like GoDaddy, HostGator or Domain.com, you can connect your domain to these website platforms. Each platform will have directions on how to do that.

· Website Content — At a minimum,the following pages should be included in your site: Home, About Us, Services, Contact Us, and Donate. You should also use real images and videos of the people you serve and your staff. Though I do not advocate the use of stock images, you can use royalty-free stock images until you replace those with real images of real people. Sites that you can procure these stock images (some for a fee) include Unsplash, Shutterstock, and iStock.

· Accept Donations -A top priority of your website should be accepting donations. You can set up an account with PayPal to accept donations online at www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/donations. Once this is set up, you can easily add the functionality to your website.

· Analytics — As you’re setting up your website, it’s very important to establish analytics for your website. Though the platforms I listed do provide a degree of analytics, you’ll want to set up an account with Google Analytics to have a better view of what’s really happening on your website. Visit here for more info on how to set that up: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008015?hl=en

My next post (Part 2) will cover the why and how of getting started with social media. In the meantime, leave your questions or comments about getting started with a basic website!

(Note: To learn more about email, social media, website content, and digital media for nonprofits, check out The Digital Fundraising Blueprint, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon)

Do you work for a nonprofit? Then join the online community of fundraisers from around the world at www.FundraisersUnite.com. The community includes monthly training, live weekly coaching, a nonprofit marketing/fundraising resource library and more. Join today!

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