Resources non-profit agencies can use for sharing information with groups

As a non-profit organization, you have a lot of information to share about your mission, events, financial reports, donations, volunteers, etc. Not only do you have a large volume of information to share, but you have to share it with a variety of different stakeholder groups. Luckily, the internet gives you a plethora of resources, even though sometimes it can seem a bit overwhelming. Today, we’re going to investigate a few options you have when it comes to sharing information with a group of people (some are even FREE).

Create you own website. Seems straightforward, right? Well, in theory it is. But it can be difficult if you do not have a background in website creation or cannot dedicate the time it takes to update the site. If you don’t have your own independent website now or are looking to revamp your site, then I suggest checking out WordPress is a free Content Management System that allows users to create dynamic sites on their servers. It is fairly user-friendly for those of you who might be a little apprehensive about diving in.

Facebook Groups. Regardless of whether or not you’re operating a website for your agency, chances are that you are familiar with Facebook. If your organization doesn’t have a page, then I suggest you create one because it is an easy way to promote your mission.  Facebook also allows users to create “groups” (which is different from your agency’s “page”). You can create separate groups (even with restricted access) for board members, volunteers, and donors. This will enable you to share information that might only be appropriate or applicable to that specific group. One thing to keep in mind is that Facebook is known for having a few privacy concerns and people might not be comfortable with combining their personal and professional lives on Facebook.

Email Lists. Sometimes simple is best. These days everyone is familiar with email and use it to receive information on a daily basis. Your agency probably already has a large email list, but is it being maintained? Are email addresses cleaned out if they are no longer active? If you are looking for a newsletter manager check out MailChimp or Webber. Both are effective applications that can help you manage your email subscription lists. What is so cool about that I’ve given them their own section in today’s blog post? Well, allows users to create a website focused on sharing information with groups of people in a simple manner, and it is all FREE. Don’t let the name AllPlayers fool you into thinking this is a service for sports teams only. There are plenty of resources on this site for non-profits to use. By using to create a site for your organization, you can update your volunteer calendar, accept donations, post announcements, and more.

Another thing I like about AllPlayers is that they allow everyone involved in the organization to register for your website. This makes keeping records up-to-date easy and simple.  As a COPPA compliant organization, AllPlayers takes privacy seriously, and all of the data uploaded to can be exported.

Finally, I think the most valuable feature of is the support that you receive. You don’t need to be a “techie” to set up your site because the whole site is based on drag-and-drop technology, which makes it very easy for users to configure. This can save your agency money that otherwise would be spent on IT costs. Furthermore, AllPlayers offers free training and is even willing to set-up your site (for a small fee, of course). Your AllPlayers site can be a separate entity from your organization’s website, or it can become your stand alone website. Here are some examples of how some Boys & Girls Clubs are using AllPlayers:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove

Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County

Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington

Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard & Port Huneme

AllPlayers has also put together a brief presentation on how Boys & Girls Clubs can use I invite all of you to take a look and see how you might be able to use this service. You can download the file by clicking here.

These are just a few options you have when it comes to sharing information with people already involved with your organization, but I’m sure they aren’t the only ones.  What systems are you currently using? What do you like about it? What challenges do you face when it comes to sharing information? Let’s talk about it in the comment section. Please scroll down and post your thoughts!

Have you “Googled” yourself lately? You’d be amazed at what you find!

How do people get to your website?  A lot of people are going to use a search engine to find a website. They simply type what they are looking for into a search bar. Most of the time, the website they are looking for is at the top of the list.

I say “most of the time” because there are instances where this is not true. The top result might be an article written by the local newspaper about your organization in which case your website might be listed second or even third. The order of search results when a user types the name of your organization into a search engine can tell you a lot about the quality of your website and interactions on social media sites.

Note: For the purpose of this post I will be talking about Google as the default search engine as it widely recognized as a leader in search.

Google is constantly changing and perfecting the algorithm they use to determine how pages are listed when a user searches for something. For example, recently they added “Search Plus Your World” which personalizes results based on your social network connections. The good news about this new feature is that you can help Google figure out how your site gets listed.

Before any of that can happen, you have to find out where your nonprofit agency currently stands in the rankings. Here’s how:

  • Make sure you’re signed out of your  Google account
  • Go to
  • Type the name of your organization (or other search term associated with your mission) into the search box
  • Record the top ten results

What came up? Was your site first? Maybe it was your Facebook site. Or your Twitter feed. Maybe it was a Yelp review of an event you held. Was a third-party site listed where you were mentioned?

Make sure you pay attention to the order as they are listed in popularity. A study in 2011 found that the site listed at the top of the Google search results was clicked on 36% of the time. The site listed second was only clicked on 12.5%.  The tenth site on the list was only clicked on 2.2% of the time. If your site is not listed at the top of the page, you’re going to want to change that.

Now, how can you improve the Google results standings for your website?

  1.  Tell Google about it. Google wants to tell people about you, but first they need to know you exist. You can tell them by submitting your content. This will ensure that Google has your site in their index. In most cases they already do, but you want to make sure.
  2. Describe things in detail on your page. The crawlers that Google sends out to the internet can only read text. Every word on your page can be used in the algorithm to send a person to your page. If you have wonderful photo on your site that includes words, Google is not going to know about it. Make sure all photos have captions or use ALT text when posting a photo.
  3. Create quality content for your users. If you do this, people will want to visit your site again and again. This is the main basis of the rankings on the results page. Yes, putting words on your website that are associated with what you think a user might enter into a search engine to find your website will help people find your site once, but will it make people want to come back?

That’s it. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Just kidding! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge business and a very complicated subject. For more information you can check out Google’s guidelines by clicking here.

Ok, so we’ve talked about what you can do for your agency’s website, but what about all of those other results. In a perfect world, I would like to see my organization’s website listed first followed by all of the associated social media sites.

How does that happen? Again, the key is to get people to visit your sites, and being active on your social media sites will do exactly that. Also, make sure that all of your social media sites are listed everywhere you can. The description section in most social media sites is a great place to list your other sites if you are not given any other options.

Implementing changes to ensure that your site is at the top of the results list can dramatically increase the number of people (aka prospective donors) that know about your organization. Schedule time to Google yourself from time-to-time and stay on top of it!

Hey Mom, non-profits can have cavities too!

Last Monday, I made that dreaded trip to see the dentist. I am proud to say I have no cavities; however, I need to apparently stop biting my cheeks and grinding my teeth. While I am proud of my oral hygiene, the big news is that my dentist has gotten very good at stewarding his clients.

Right about now, I suspect that many of you are blinking at the screen and thinking something like: “Huh? A for-profit dentist is stewarding his clients like a non-profit organization stewards its donors? Whatcha talking about, Erik!”

This is what I am talking about:

  • A few weeks before my appointment  I received a newsletter in my mailbox from the dentist. Of course, the newsletter contained some articles about dental services he provides. However, there was also interesting reading about the growing body of research between dental hygiene and heart disease as well as oral cancers and HPV. I walked away from that newsletter feeling better about my semi-annual investment in my mouth. Ah-ha . . . STEWARDSHIP!
  • By the time I got home from my dentist appointment, there were already two emails sitting in my inbox from my dentist. The first email thanked me for visiting and asked me to take an online survey. The rationale was that he values my business and wants to continue providing high quality service. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but . . . ah-ha . . . STEWARDSHIP!
  • The second email invited me to join his “online community” where members are able to: receive email appointment reminders; request appointments online; receive special announcements; write a review; refer a friend; watch a YouTube video of him talking about the overall health-ROI associated with investing in your mouth. I was directed to his website. I was directed to his Facebook page. I was directed to his Twitter account.  OMG . . . this isn’t just STEWARDSHIP, but it was electronic stewardship (ala ePhilanthropy for non-profits).

Back in the old days, dentists used to clean your teeth and you wouldn’t hear from them again for another 6-months when someone called to remind you about your upcoming appointment. This got me thinking about the number of non-profit agencies out there who take a donor’s charitable contribution, fire out a generic computer  generated recognition letter, and then do nothing until it is time to ask for the next gift.

Hmmmm . . . if my dentist can evolve, then so can many of those non-profit organizations who are still engaging in “transactional fundraising”.

What is your agency doing to enhance the “donor experience” and improve stewardship efforts? Have you ever considered sending donors a survey immediately after their solicitation to ask about the quality of their solicitation experience? Think about it for a moment . . . it starts to sound less and less silly the more you ponder it. Are you keeping your eyes open for how other non-profits and for-profits are changing the way they steward their donors and clients? What are you seeing?

Please use the comment box below and weigh-in with a your thoughts and observations. It doesn’t have to be a long comment . . . 30 seconds will suffice. We can all learn from each other.

Here is to your health (both non-profit health and dental health)!!!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847|

Hooking fish but not landing them

I am dedicating this week’s blog posts to exploring ePhilanthropy related topics. Since this field of resource development is still cutting edge (or should I say bleeding edge), I encourage everyone who is dabbling, experimenting and playing with tools in this field to please weigh-in using the comment section of this blog. Today, I turn my attention to websites.

Well, here we are … back at square one — “The Beginning”. I can imagine that this entire ePhilanthropy thing started a long time ago at the start of the digital revolution when one resource development professional asked themselves: “Hmmm … my donors online are all hanging out online. I wonder how I can using my agency’s website to raise money?”

So, talking about websites seems like a very anti-climatic way to end the week. Right?

If you responded in the affirmative, then I beg to differ because the issue with ePhilanthropy is how quickly technology changes. In my opinion, there is a real danger is in forgetting about one of the most basic building blocks (e.g. website) and getting distracted by the new shiny objects (social media, online videos, etc).

Still skeptical? Think of it this way … your organization’s website is like “home base” for your entire ePhilanthropy program. Your social media, online video and email strategies are like a “fishing pole, line and hook” is to a fisherman.

Let’s take an example from my blog post yesterday about online videos. I posted a YouTube link to an online video solicitation from Chris Salvatore on behalf of the Gay American Heroes Foundation. I talked about the effectiveness of the video and admitted that immediately after viewing it, I had wanted to make a donation, but I never did. The reason I didn’t donate was because of the foundation’s website. Click here to check it out.

Do you see what I mean? Their website is a mess. It is full of emotion, but it was hard for me to quickly determine what they plan to do with my donation and what the “return on investment” would be.

Your organization’s website is your face on the information super-highway. You can hook all the fish you want using tools like Facebook, Twitter, online videos, and email; however, you will never land those fish if you cannot instill confidence and clearly communicate your case. Online donors turn to your website to find this info. If it looks like you just vomited a website into cyberspace, trust me when I tell you: “it kills the mood as well as the will to donate”.

Creating your organization’s website is complicated because it involves skill sets in the following areas: technology, marketing & communication, and internet practices (e.g. search engine optimization, etc). However, if you want to be “donor-centered” in an online environment, then you need to be really good at ALL of these things (or outsource some or all of it to professionals who can help you).

With that being said, I strongly believe in life-long learning. You might not able able to be an expert in all things pertaining to websites, but it is possible to become knowledgeable enough. This is important because only you can make the strategic decisions that are important to your resource development and ePhilanthropy programs. For this reason, I was so excited to find all sorts of free online resources (e.g. articles, trainings, etc) from Network for Good on their online learning center website. Click here to see all sorts of resources pertaining to websites.

I bit off more than I can chew with this topic, so I will carry it over into part of next week.  Do you have any best practices to share with regards to your website? How do you fit your website into a comprehensive ePhilanthropy strategy? How does your ePhilanthropy strategy fit into your comprehensive resource development plan? In what ways have you exported the ideas of  “Donor-Centered Fundraising TM”?  We can learn from each other!

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847