Nonprofits, Podcast

Podcast Transcript: How to Take Your Nonprofit Virtual in a COVID and Post COVID World

October 15, 2020

JILLYN: Hi, I’m Jillyn, Founder and Executive Director of Technology Aloha and I am here today with our content manager, Kelli to talk about taking your Nonprofit Virtual in a COVID and Post COVID World. Our podcast today will be broken into three sections. What it means to take your Nonprofit virtual and why you need to. Different ways to showcase your Nonprofit online and virtual Nonprofit after the pandemic. Let’s get started.

Virtual Nonprofit: Globe wearing a facemask.

What does Virtual Nonprofit Mean?

KELLI: Alright, Jillyn. Here is a good question to start with. What does it mean to take your Nonprofit Virtual?

JILLYN: Well Kelli, the current pandemic hasn’t only impacted the way we shop and socialize. It’s fundamentally changed the way that individuals connect and give to Nonprofits they support. So many more of those interactions and transactions occur online now and your Nonprofit needs a simple and streamlined to ask for and accept those interactions.

Why Take My Nonprofit Virtual?

KELLI: So, why do we focus on digital marketing for my Nonprofit?

JILLYN: Well, digital marketing performed well for Nonprofits even before COVID-19. Now it is the clear leader for providing Nonprofits with a positive return on investment. In fact, Nonprofits are performing better than pretty much any other segment of the market. There are really great programs out there too, and they help to give Nonprofits the boost that they need to compete with for-profit companies in the online world. Here are a few examples.

Free Virtual Programs for Nonprofits

You might be familiar with the Google Grant program. It is amazing. Google will give qualified Nonprofits up to $10,000 per month in free Google Adwords advertising. The qualifications are pretty simple. You need to be a 501C3. There are a couple of other little caveats but most nonprofits in the United States will qualify and the qualification takes a little bit. Expect that it will take 3-6 weeks to get your Nonprofit qualified but once you’re qualified then you get that $10,000 to spend on advertising every single month, which is fantastic.

Another Google company, YouTube, has the YouTube Social Impact Program. And that program provides powerful tools to help you spread your message and learn from other social innovators. The objective is to help you make social impact through video and help you learn to be more impactful with your video assets. Which, as the online market grows, video is going to become more and more important to your nonprofit.

The final one I would like to talk about today is the Facebook Social Impact Program. It offers support and tools to empower people to make real-world impact including charitable giving, crisis response, help, and mentorship. The idea is that you can use your online network and the network of your followers to make an impact in your community.

KELLI: That’s really, really great resources. $10,000 a month in free advertising with Google — that is worth the time that it takes to get yourself verified with them and get yourself approved. And then obviously just between Youtube, Facebook, and also Google — free tools are always needed with Nonprofits.

JILLYN: Agreed and this is far from an exhaustive list but these are the three highlight ones that — everyone is probably at least familiar with Google, Facebook, and Youtube and these are how these big companies are helping. There are a lot of other programs out there that while they may not have the same magnitude, they’re still doing a lot for the Nonprofits sector.

How Can I Showcase my Nonprofit Online?

JILLYN: So now that we have talked about the tools and why and what virtualization looks like for Nonprofits. How should the Nonprofits be showcasing their Nonprofits online, Kelli?

KELLI: There are a lot of ways to take your Nonprofit virtual. There are so many in fact that you might feel overwhelmed when you hear everything that I mention on this list. My best advice: take things one or two at a time. Find what works for you, find what works for your audience, and remember that you do not have to do everything. In fact, doing everything can be so overwhelming that it would be detrimental to your Nonprofit. If something doesn’t work, don’t waste your time on it, and if you do want help don’t be afraid to reach out to others in your Nonprofit or to outside technology experts like us with at Technology Aloha.

Blogging

So the first one that I want to talk about is blogging. Blogging is one of my favorites, that’s why I wanted to talk about it first. Blogging with your Nonprofit, you can post those online. It helps you provide a real connection. It provides a place for readers to get timely updates and gain extra information. You get to spread awareness of your cause in your own words. You also establish credibility as an expert and you will inspire readers to become donors.

JILLYN: All of those are really great points, Kelli. It is also great to mention that your blog is a great place to showcase stories of those that your organization helps because those stories are very impactful from a volunteer and a donor perspective. So, that’s also a great thing to be putting on your blog.

Send Emails and Newsletters

KELLI: I find blogging to be really helpful especially if you also go into emails and newsletters because you can include snippets of your blog on to that kind of marketing. So, if you’re going to send an email or email newsletter or however you want to send it, you can provide bits of your blog and also update everyone with the current news of how your nonprofit is currently functioning.

Lots of updates happen in the course of a month or so especially during pandemics like COVID-19. So, using email and newsletters along with your blog is a great way to keep your volunteers, future donors, current donors, past donors up to date.

JILLYN: And to drive traffic to your website which is always good for your organization.

KELLI: Mhmm driving traffic to your website will create so much more than you will ever fully understand.

Provide Digital Downloads

KELLI: The next thing that I want to talk about are providing digital downloads. You can include them in your email and newsletters. Some places like to provide print at home calendars. You can take your blog and make an ebook or you could share your favorite recipes online while talking about the cause.

Focus on Social Media

KELLI: Obviously, another thing you are going to really want to focus on is being active and posting often on social media. And I also want to remind you again, there are a lot of social media websites. Find the ones that work for you and have the best reach for your target audience. You do not have to be on every single social media site all of the time.

When I talk about sharing recipes you can do that on Pinterest. Having Pinterest boards is really helpful. You can create group boards, shared boards, and things like that to showcase your cause and to showcase the people that you’re helping or the animals that you’re helping or whatever you are helping.

You will probably want to be on Facebook. Most people are and it’s the standard that you would have a Facebook page that you are posting. You can focus on Instagram as well. That one is very popular. That also includes IGTV. IGTV is Instagram but with video. Which goes into sharing videos on YouTube.

Video marketing is incredibly helpful, it’s all digital and there are tons of free tools out there that can help you create polished, professional videos without experience. If you’re still unsure how to do it make sure to reach out to other people.

Twitter is a really great way to spread current information like if bad weather cancels an event, you can post that on Twitter and that just gets out really quickly. Often when I see something bad happening in my city I’ll go to Twitter to look at news pages and take a look at who is posting about what. So Twitter is really great — instant notification or update.

The other one I wanted to talk about was Reddit. So, if you went on to Reddit you could do an AMA, that means “Ask Me Anything.” Where users can come in and ask you about your non-profit, they can ask you about your cause, your mission, your goals, they can ask a ton of questions and you can provide a lot of really great info while connecting with all of your followers.

JILLYN: Those AMA topics that are surfaced in Reddit oftentimes make really, really great Facebook live events. So keep that in mind as well. We have a lot of podcasts and blogs about repurposing, that’s a really fantastic opportunity for repurposing content.

KELLI: Exactly, these are the kinds of things you really want to look at — look at ways you can use them again, again and again. Then you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to come up with new topics to talk about.

Online Donations

KELLI: Obviously with nonprofits, you need a way to make it easy to donate online. There’s Facebook donations, there’s Amazon Smile, there’s also Amazon Wishlist. For example, an animal shelter might have a wishlist filled with toys and food, and other common things that they might need. That the animals use constantly that they’re always running out of.

JILLYN: Those are all really good points. Another thing to keep in mind is that virtual donation drives are a great way to replace the donations your nonprofit has historically brought in through in-person events. These can be food drives, pet supplies, school supply drives. Really any kind of donation event that used to be in person. An additional benefit of virtual donation drives is that your organization can take advantage of the economies scale and bulk purchasing power to get more for less. Also from a donor perspective, it just feels better to provide dinner for 10 families of 4 than it does to give $20.00. As a side note, we’re releasing a tool for these types of drives in the very near future. So please get in touch with us if you would like your nonprofit to be a part of our launch group.

KELLI: I completely agree, virtual donation drives are kind of like the Amazon wishlist but they’re better. Oftentimes Nonprofits have access to wholesale or reduced-price items and a donation of $20.00 can get you more instead of someone buying $20.00 worth of items and sending it to you. Do what works with your donors the best but virtual donation drives are similar to in-person donation drives. And most people want that personal connection.

JILLYN: They do. And does give that social aspect which is really nice.

KELLI: Exactly, we always want more social interaction.

JILLYN: [laughing] Some of us do.

[Both laughing]

Kelli: While we set up these virtual drives and other things when the pandemic is over why would we want to continue doing online virtual presence?

Staying Online After the Pandemic

JILLYN: At this point, I think most of us are pretty sick of the phrase “new normal.” Nonetheless, we won’t be going back to the way things were before COVID. The shift to virtual was already in the works well before the pandemic and the pandemic just added to the momentum. Your nonprofit needs to jump in now. You need to keep moving forward with the virtual tools and resources for your nonprofit. It’s vital to the continuing success and the ability to serve your community.

KELLI: That makes perfect sense, a lot of things have been moving online. Working from home was probably going to happen but the pandemic just sent every company into overdrive to make sure that was possible.

JILLYN: Absolutely.

Communication is Changing

KELLI: I just have a follow-up question for that. How will the “new normal,” — [Laughing] you know, our favorite term. How will the new normal impact communication with donors and volunteers?

JILLYN: Well, most nonprofits are already making good use of newsletters to keep in contact with donors. However, your nonprofit should start looking for new ways to segment and personalize that interaction because the competition of your donors’ attention is going to increase substantially in the next 6-12 months. Make sure every communication is delightful, emotionally impactful, or both. Also, look at how your organization operates and find the needs that your volunteers can complete virtually. Not only does this allow volunteers to remain safely at home during times of pandemics, etc. It also reduces the liability for your organization, and it allows you to accept volunteers from literally anywhere in the world.

And it is also worth noting that many of your volunteers are also donors which means you will be bringing money into your community from outside your community which is a huge help to your community.

KELLI: Yup. The phrase “It’s a small world” is doubly true when everything is online. Pulling in donors from anywhere in the world including your community, and outside of your community, and outside of your country sometimes. Will help expand your cause, raise awareness, and help you reach new goals to positively impact your community so much more.

JILLYN: Absolutely true.

KELLI: It looks like that’s all the time we have for today. We’ve included links in the description to several of our blog posts that cover the topics we discussed. I’m Kelli —

JILLYN: — and I’m Jillyn; if you have questions about taking your nonprofit virtual or have other topics that you would like to hear on our podcast please reach out on social media or contact us at techonologyaloha.com. Thank you for listening to Into the Inbound with Technology Aloha. We hope we’ve added a little Aloha to your day.

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