It’s tough out there for pretty much every start-up. Whether it’s a for-profit outfit or not, it’s not like there are easy pickings just waiting to be harvested by relentlessly successful entrepreneurs. It’s reckoned to be especially tough for nonprofit organizations because they’re dealing essentially in the reserves of compassion from supporters in their target audience.
Too few supporters, or too little compassion, and it can be game over.
However, this is too simple a perspective. It’s very much the case that nonprofits can turn their status to their advantage, and a well-designed website can be an instrumental component in their public relations strategy. We’ll see what an effective nonprofit website should look like, but let’s start by asking a preliminary question.
Why is PR for nonprofits especially important?
When one stops to think about what PR is, it’s easy to see why nonprofits are so dependent on it. PR is what gives voice to organizations, movements, and events. Yes, you can choose to trust viral marketing and hope that your supporters will do it all for you. However, this approach relies on two big requirements:
A compelling product
It’s a sad fact of commercial life that cool trainers will usually gain a toehold in viral marketing more than a worthy cause. Such consumer goods are designed to be instantly visually appealing, which cuts through a lot of noise and generates the conditions necessary for mass impact and viral marketing.
To ask the same from a cause, however noble, is asking a lot.
Initial customer base
Even brand advocate led marketing tends to rely on initial exposure being given to the commodity through PR. A public relations campaign will correctly position what’s being promoted so that it’s framed appropriately and pushed at the right people, at least to begin with.
Of course, as fundraising takes off and UGC material starts to make a dent, the nonprofit’s profile will be promoted. But it’s very difficult to do without the original push that PR gives.
Of the tools that PR can bring to bear on this task, the website is among the most potent.
6 ways to kickstart PR for a nonprofit via its website
Let’s look at the main ways a nonprofit website can help kickstart the PR process:
1) Tell a compelling story
What PR does right from the off is to give the nonprofit the chance to be crystal clear about what it stands for. A description of the issue that the organization’s been created to tackle can be given full breathing space on a website, as can an account of how the nonprofit came about and who’s involved.
The more compelling and engaging the story, the higher the impact, and human interest stories tend to do most of the heavy lifting. Obvious, but worth stating.
Consequently, keep revisiting the story that the website tells and try to come at it with a novice’s eyes. Or get someone not so close to the project to read it over. Is the story told effectively to somebody with little prior knowledge?
Consider also using more creative means of telling the story. For instance, a website concerning artificial intelligence with an ai domain name cuts straight to the chase.
2) Define the goals of the nonprofit
So, you’ve described what the problem is. Now it’s time to talk about the answer. It’s important to be fairly snappy in bringing this up, as people don’t appreciate just having miserable stats and facts thrown at them.
If there’s a practical solution that they can be a part of rather than just being asked to feel depressed, then get busy with telling them what it is.
3) Don’t neglect the goals of the website
This is a distinct matter, as you have to be clear about what it is that you’ve created the website for. Is it just an awareness raiser? Is it a means of linking people up and exchanging information via a linked forum? Is it a hub for podcast syndication? Or is it a fundraiser aimed at mining potential donors? Or a mix of all sorts?
Whatever it is, you need to be clear on this point. You don’t have to specify to the letter exactly what it is to the site visitor. If you’re clear about the purpose yourself, this clarity will make itself felt automatically.
4) Continually track performance
You’re going to need to know how well the website’s performing, in terms of site visitors and engagement while there. If it’s a fundraising site, you’ll get a route one idea via the amount it raises.
But, in terms of more nuanced information, you need to use a tool like Google Analytics. It will help you decide which elements of the site are working and which might need a little attention. These kinds of tools are invaluable in helping to hone your PR campaign.
5) Consider aesthetics and visuals
Don’t forget that whatever the site, it needs some sights. Just as important as domain purchase is how you intend that site to look and feel.
This is where a designer is worth their weight in chips, being able to use their expertise to attract attention and keep it. Yes, it’s a cosmetic concern, but, at heart, we’re cosmetic creatures. Take advantage of this.
6) Make sure the site integrates seamlessly with your other activities
Learn the lesson of for-profits. They’ve realized that brand recognition depends a great deal on the traction given by consistency. In other words, whatever the means of communication, be it website content, social media posts, or bricks and mortar stores, the customer experience needs to be seamless, with the corporate image staying the same throughout the journey.
So, however the nonprofit website looks and whatever the message it gives, it needs to be entirely consistent with the image and content wherever else the nonprofit is promoted, from blog posts to printed flyers at community events.
Nonprofit website PR: Get it right and reap the benefits
Nonprofits need to have a communication strategy that considers all these factors and more when it comes to their websites.
Sometimes this will be handled internally and sometimes by a public relations firm. However a nonprofit chooses to handle its PR, it’s important that it makes the most of its website as a resource.
So, if you want your nonprofit to achieve a wider audience with its fundraising campaign, special event, or other activities, make sure to adhere to our ways to kickstart PR for nonprofits via your website.