One of the bigger struggles that many Non-Profit organizations face today is in the area of Presence. Presence is critical in propelling the mission forward. Presence is making your organization known to potential donors, future board members, and the general public. If not handled with intention, some organizations have found that their presence is not well received by others or worse ... that they have no presence at all. (Cue: sound of "shock and horror"...)
It's important for an organization to ask themselves this question:
Is OUR voice loud enough?
Here are key volume amplifiers for any organization to invest:
1. A Well Designed and Easily Navigated Website
I don't know how else to say this other then bluntly: A website is not area to skimp. In other words, if your organization is looking to save money, don't cut back the budget of the website. It is your universal business card and home base for potential donors, board members, and community to gather the necessary information they need about YOU. A well designed website is worth the money because the bottom line is - when others are looking for you, the first thing they will do is Google you. They are going to get themselves acquainted with your website before ever picking up the phone to inquire about how they can invest or get involved your mission. The hard truth is, many folks make a decision about who they partner with based on the look of an organization's website. If you want to make sure that your voice is loud enough, turn up the volume by investing in a good site.
2. A Social Media Strategy and Schedule
I know. I can tell you are already rolling you eyes but I have to say it: Non-Profit organizations need to up their "social media" game. They need to be active on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. The graphics need to be creative, cohesive and they need to tell the story of the organization. Hiring a Social Media Manager is worth the money and the organizations that have made room on their staff for a "Social Media Manager" are miles ahead of organizations that haven't. If your organization is unable to hire someone to handle the social media accounts as a full-time position, consider out-sourcing this key responsibility. There are many companies that solely deal with social media management. It won't break your budget either.
I must also add that bonus points go to C-Suite members who consistently are active on their personal social media platforms. Before you throw tomatoes at me, I just want to remind you that if you are a CEO, a CFO, a COO, or any high profile leader in your organization - you carry a large weight of the Presence for your organization. You just do. Therefore, when you are regularly present on social media, talking about your organization, you are cranking up the volume of the mission. A simple daily tweet or post can go a long way, my friends.
3. A Calendar of Key Events to Crash
Perhaps "crash" is the wrong word, but I wanted to get your attention. Your organization should be showing up at conferences, workshops and other events that are related to your mission. Despite the false rumors, networking is not obsolete. In the wise words of Michael Scott (from the hit TV show, "THE OFFICE")... "People will never go out of business."
To have a strong presence as an organization, you need to get around people. Bottom line. Face to face connection is still very powerful today. Social media will support the message and a good website will make a strong base for information but utilizing the lost art of a simple conversation still packs a lot of power in its punch. People will remember how you made them feel when they were in your presence and that will ultimately reflect how they feel about your organization. So turn up the volume and attend a few key events a year.
You can do this. But more importantly, you HAVE to do this. Your organization's mission is worthy to be heard.
Todd Polyniak is a partner at SAX and is an expert in Not-For-Profit financial health for over 30 years.