ePhilanthropy: Mission Possible

Last week, I dedicated the entire week’s worth of blog posts to exploring ePhilanthropy related topics. However, I still have a few thoughts that slopped over into this week. Today, I wrap-up this ePhilanthropy series by looking at how non-profits (especially under-resourced organizations) might begin preparing for the future.

Executive directors and resource development professionals don’t need to walk down this road alone. There are people who serve on your board of directors who work in the for-profit sector and are light years ahead of us when it comes to e-commerce. Additionally, there are so many people who are tech enthusiasts in your community who would love to volunteer for you just so they can play some more with technology.

The first step for any organization is to recruit people and build a team to help you. I don’t think you should make this a committee of only tech-minded people. Try to recruit volunteers who have the following skill sets: 1) technology acumen or curiosity, 2) an understanding of and love for your mission, 3) a personal track record of donating to other charities online, and 4) some basic understanding of how resource development works (or a willingness to learn).

It is always a best practice for a committee or work group to collaborating on creating a written “annual work plan” before rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.  For this particular group, I suggest the work plan for Year One of this project involve the following discussion items:

  • Review and recommend to the board of directors that they adopt Network for Good’s ePhilanthropy Code of Ethics.
  • Evaluate your website and make sure your evaluation process includes asking donors to weigh-in on content and functionality.
  • Make a plan for redesigning your website and incorporate action items that transition your site from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 (include installing and using data analytics ). If you have the capacity to start implementing your plan in Year One, then charge down that road gleefully. Try to include a blog (one that you use weekly) and video to tell your organization’s story to online donors.
  • Look at your email house file and how your organization encourages supporters to provide their contact info. Make a plan with measurable goals for increasing the number of emails in your database and put it into action. (See yesterday’s blog about email)
  • Create a simple e-newsletter that drives readers back to your website by encouraging them to “click-through” using html hyperlinks. Make sure you’ve purchased an email service provider and use it to distribute your e-newsletter. Also make sure that you are using the built-in data analytics that come with these services. Experiment with different things and see what results in better traffic. (Remember: this means that your website content needs to be updated regularly)
  • Make a plan for social media that includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It should answer the simple question of how you plan on using each platform and which target audience you hope to speak to. The plan also needs to address how you plan on building an “online following” as well as what content is shared (how often and by whom). Above all, it needs to look at the idea of creating an “online conversation” with target audiences. This isn’t just about shouting marketing and fundraising messages into cyberspace.

Phew … that probably seems like a lot of stuff to accomplish in Year One for some organizations. If so, no problem … break some of these initial work plan items into multiple years. Walt Disney summed it up best when he said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you move. The important thing is that you start moving!

Keep in mind that engaging your donors (via surveys, interviews, focus groups, recruitment to the committee, etc) is a great way to be “donor-centered” and ensure that your ePhilanthropy plans will meet their needs.

So, what is your organization doing to position itself for ePhilanthropy? Have you learned any lessons? If so, please share using the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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