Nonprofit Consulting: Creating a Successful Online Ecosystem

“Nonprofit organizations must rely on a variety of activities and resource providers to support their mission-related work. The classic image is that of traditional fundraising to attract charitable donations from individuals and corporations for socially valued programs. Another common revenue strategy is the pursuit of grants and contracts from foundation and government sources. A more controversial approach involves commercial activities, such as selling products to customers or charging fees for program services.” (Laird)

It is critical that organizations have an appropriate combination of grants, major gifts and a solid internet fundraising campaign in order to avoid potential income gaps that could cause program or personnel cuts that could be detrimental to the fulfillment of their mission. It has been estimated that one third of all giving to nonprofits organizations is now online as of 2010. (Olsen)

First, if an organization’s website was built before 2004, it should likely be upgraded with a makeover to Web 2.0 standards of interactivity with clients. If a donation system is included, make sure that donation buttons follow proven standards to be compelling and do their job effectively. Consulting with an organization about any current projects or campaigns, and what the demographics are for their constituencies, can provide the basis for a private social media site based on that topic. Develop a synergy among all websites – nudge users from Facebook to join your private social site, make sure there are links and even graphic ads to compel users to visit among all the various web presences of the organization. In this way they can meet other users they may not have previously on another platform, and can become proactive in supporting causes and helping things go viral.

Since email newsletters have a longer proven track record of successful customer acquisition and retention if used correctly, these programs should be the ultimate target for any web campaign. Keeping long term relationship building as the goal, new friends harvested on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social sites should not necessarily be “pitched to” immediately. The goal would be to direct them to email campaign signup forms on an organization’s website or private project-based social media site. Since internet users are not likely to give up their email address without getting something in return, we should ask what rewards are given in exchange for their sign up action. Rewards could include special deals on products from a Mission Shopping cart, an e-book or short research study about a topic of interest within the organization, a short story by a recipient of the organization’s services about how they were helped, or simply a promise for future updates and news.

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