Facebook for Nonprofits – A Huge Helping Hand from Your Facebook Friend

Whether you’re just getting started with your nonprofit’s use of social media, diving deeper into raising awareness, or simply trying to raise funds, Facebook wants to be there for you. They recently launched “Facebook for Nonprofits” as a website to guide this effort. We want to do a quick recap to make sure you don’t miss any of the ways this social media giant can help your effort.

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How Facebook is Helping Nonprofits

Similar to any organization/company’s page, a nonprofit Facebook page is different than a personal page. It’s set up more like a website, with sections such as About Us, Reviews, and Events. Take a look at an example with Ashoka’s Facebook Page.

nonprofit-using-facebook-example

Through the Facebook for Nonprofits website, they walk you through numerous aspects of a successful social media presence including:

1. Page set up: Their guide includes page creation, categorization, details you should be sure to include, and the best ways to manage it all.

2. Managing admins & using your resources: There are several features you can personalize such as…

a) How often you’re notified about page activity

b) Scheduling tools for your posts

c) Administrative access options if you have a larger team with various users

facebook-for-nonprofits-admin
Photo Source: Facebook for Nonprofits

3. Getting social media savvy: They include SO many details on enhancing your page, each post and each event you create on the page. This includes:

a) Photo and optimization tips

b) Page analytics and how to best monitor them

facebook-analytics
Photo Credit: Facebook for Nonprofits

c) Slightly lesser known tips like how to pin or promote a post

d) Getting your users to promote your page for you

e) Setting up a full on campaign strategy! Targeting your audience strategically is often hard for nonprofits to do since it can take so much time. Facebook makes it simple.

facebook-campaign-strategy-audience-targetting

4. Increasing engagement from your followers and beyond: This takes your page to the next level – it’s not just a stagnant page for people to come to for reference, but rather serves as another hand in the field, fully engaging with others. They point to ways to…

a) Grab your followers’ attention with posts and through targetting the right audience

b) Create effective Facebook Ads to show up in more feeds

c) Use Facebook as a means to having people post their own efforts and launch peer to peer fundraisers

d) Launch a fundraising campaign

fundraising-using-facebook
Photo source: Facebook for Nonprofits

As you can see, Facebook has friend requested you, and all you have to do is check it out! If you’d like to talk to a social media strategist on how to use Facebook as a nonprofit, contact our team at ArcStone.

3 Free Blog Tools to Check Before You Hit Publish

free-blog-tools

Hitting the publish button on our Nerdy Nonprofit blog always gives me a tinge of anxiety. After hours of writing, it’s tempting to just quickly publish and forget about the details. Unfortunately, that can lead to a unoptimized and ineffective post, throwing the writing hours out the window. However, even when I ask myself “what did I miss?” I feel at a loss for what to double check.

With this predicament in mind, I set out to create a blog writing and editing strategy to walk through before publishing a post. Now I can skip the murky waters and get right to the clean blog optimization.

Next time your nonprofit finishes the writing process and is hesitating before publishing, check these 3 things to ensure the blog is at a good place.

1. Monitor your SEO with Yoast SEO or SEMRush

We all know one of the main reasons for having written the blog in the first place is to further your nonprofit website’s SEO. Yet, we don’t all quite know what exactly to look for and what tools we have to check it.

a) First, if you didn’t write your blog with a keyword strategy in mind, take a look at SEMRush or use the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO to establish for which phrase you are trying to rank. Your post should be written around this phrase.

b) Then, check that this long-tail keyword is somehow incorporated in your title, URL, in your subheading, meta description and even in your photo description tags.

c) If you have a tagging feature for your blog, make sure the tags are some variation of that keyword phrase.

d) If you sort your blog by category, only place your blog into one rather than all that apply. It makes it clearer to search engines what your post is about.

e) Check that you’ve included outbound and inbound links – that is, find some credible resources to establish your blog’s validity (if you didn’t research your blog content elsewhere, then point to other reputable sources at the end of your blog). You can also link to your old blogs, providing more resources that guide readers within your site.

More in Blogging & SEO Best Practices

2. Plug it all into Hemingway Editor

This has been my go-to out of all the editing services out there. Not only is a free tool, but it’s great at catching overall grammatical errors rather than just spelling mistakes. This includes hard to catch run-on sentences and areas that are difficult to read. The clearer your writing, the more your readers appreciate your nonprofit and the better you rank in SEO. hemingway-editor-free-blog-tools

3. Place it in preview mode & read aloud

a) After writing, reading and re-reading your blog, it all starts to blur together. I’ve found one way to counter this tendency is to put your blog into preview mode, or view it in the browsers your readers will use. This helps you see how it would look from an outsider’s perspective and can help you be your own best critic.

b) Another way to review is through reading aloud. If you’ve had a good writing instructor in the past, they probably had you do this. Once you hear your writing being read out loud, you become a bit more self-conscious. This can help you find areas that might not make sense to someone else who’s reading it for the first time.

If you’re still struggling to feel confident in the state of your nonprofit’s blog or content strategy, call or email our marketing team at ArcStone.

Want more on nonprofit blogging?

Need Nonprofit Fundraising Event Ideas? Use Reality TV as Inspiration

It’s a constant challenge nonprofits face, trying to get people to focus on YOUR nonprofit and YOUR fundraiser above all the other traffic out there. If this is a source of stress for your nonprofit, perhaps you need to think outside the box. Today our inspiration and advice lies in… reality television.

Yes, reality TV as inspiration for your nonprofit event. Hang with us…

MobileCause recently published a free ebook with 24 creative fundraising event ideas. They walk you through their ideas, what steps you need to take to make an event happen, and what resources you might not have thought of otherwise.

Below are a few of my favorites from the ebook – mostly because they reminded me of plots on reality TV. Read through these 5 ideas below, then make a list of your favorite reality TV shows and think about what makes them so engaging. Could the general premise of one of these shows be applied to your next nonprofit donation drive?

A Dating Auction = The Bachelor/Bachelorette

bachelor-dating-nonprofit-fundraiser-ideas
Photo Credit: Thought Catalogue

The reality show may have completed its most recent season, but now it’s your nonprofit’s turn. Find a few willing individuals, host an event, and have people donate for a date. MobileCause points to a few ways – such as using a mobile platform or activity interest survey – to spice this auction up on page 7.

Baking Competition = Cupcake Wars

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Photo Credit: Food Network

Everyone loves a good bake sale where they get to try fresh and creative goodies, but add competition to the mix and it’s all the more enticing. You’ll need a good kitchen space, some promising bakers, and picky judges to start. Then decide if you want to set a time limit, expand to baked goods beyond cupcakes, and what your bakers should win if they have the best bake. There’s more on page 13.

Fashion Show = America’s Next Top Model

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Photo Credit: rebloggy

Watch one of the 22 seasons of America’s Next Top Model and steal a few ideas from Tyra. You’ll need willing boutiques and clothing stores, but luckily this does not necessitate the thorough auditioning process of ANTM. You can even flatter friends and family by asking them to model for you. More on page 15.

HGTV – Moving for a Cause

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Photo Credit: HGTV

Everyone could use a helping hand when moving. Gather a team of strong folks who are looking for a good workout and find the right time of year when several people may be looking for someone to carry that couch. More on page 21.

Obstacle Course = Wipeout

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Photo Credit: YouTube

Let’s be honest, we all love watching the show Wipeout every once in awhile. We love seeing people take on a challenge so whole-heartedly. And some brave souls actually like to sign up! You’re sure to gather a sizable crowd for this event. Read more on page 22.

Download the ebook here or contact us at ArcStone to generate more ideas specific to your nonprofit.

Unexpected Costs in a Nonprofit Marketing Budget – From re:charity

As I scoured the internet for more nonprofit resources and interesting nonprofit bloggers, I came across re:charity and was immediately pulled in. Brady covers a plethora of subjects and dives deep with his breadth of nonprofit experience. One such subject matter? 3 Costs Nonprofits Suck at Evaluating.

Brady discusses nonprofit costs in general as well as for marketing specifically. Read the original post here or below:


I hate booking flights. Some people love the thrill of finding the best day and being in control but for me it’s just stressful and annoying. 13 tabs open in two browsers. A spreadsheet to capture and calculate costs. A piece of scratch paper to jot things down. Calendar open to make sure I have the right dates. And invariably I think to myself, “what a waste of my time“.

Meaning, how else could I be spending my time. This is a great example of an opportunity cost or “… the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.” And opportunity costs are one of the three types of costs that nonprofits seem to struggle with, okay, they suck at, in terms of knowing what they are and incorporating those costs into their decision making.

Let’s look at these three cost areas, use the flight analogy to explain, apply the concept to nonprofits and discuss some examples of solutions.

3 TYPES OF COSTS NONPROFITS SUCK AT EVALUATING

1. Opportunity costs

This is what else you could be doing. When it comes to flights, it’s all the alternatives. Questions like, “Should you even fly? Why not drive”, “Layovers or direct”, “First class or Economy” are all opportunity cost related questions. And for each decision, there is a cost of the decision you make but there are costs associated with the decisions you don’t make.

If you choose a layover to save money, for example, the money you save is worth the extra time it costs to get to where you want to go. And instead of using a travel agent or asking my wife to book the trip, I spend my time doing it instead of working, writing or grading papers (I really need to grade those papers…).

For nonprofits, this often comes down to how they use their time. With a poor donor database or CRM, for example, staff have to spend more time manually entering valuable information or managing key data in a series of spreadsheets, emails and pieces of paper. And time spent managing poor systems means less time can be spent on things like customer service (donor stewardship), donor acquisition or meeting with customers/donors. And the lack of time in those areas has a financial cost to it.

Or with events. With those rubber chicken dinners, events often get a bad name because of all the time and resources they take just to ‘break even’. But if you cut the event, how do you replace that revenue? That volunteer opportunity? That time in front of donors and possible donors to communicate your story, mission and impact?

Key Takeaway: There are costs to everything that you do but also to what you choose not to do. Evaluate other courses of action and their costs/opportunities before making your decision.

2. Marginal costs

This is the incremental cost of doing a bit more of what you’re already doing. It’s usually the first bit that’s most expensive. Buying print materials in bigger quantities, paying a staff person a little bit more and using a pro or premium plan instead of basic for subscription tools are common examples of this.

In the flight example, choosing to fly business or first class instead of economy is a marginal cost. You are already paying to fly from here to there, and there’s a, not-so-slight, cost to upgrade your experience.

For nonprofits, often in the search for lowest cost solutions under the banner of ‘efficiency, only the minimums are considered. Buy print materials in the smallest quantities. Pay new staff as little as you can. Use the basic email provider plan. And these choices can often cut costs in the short term.

But when you need more brochures and have to order more, the cost is much greater than if you would’ve ordered a few more at the time. When that staff person leaves in a year or two, it costs a heck of a lot more to hire someone else. And by not upgrading your plan from ‘basic’ to ‘pro’, you now have to manage data manually which takes extra time (also an opportunity cost here).

For nonprofits, I think data management and CRM’s are most in play when it comes to marginal costs. Organizations choose no solution or a cheap solution to manage their data and donors. But this often leads to poor or inadequate information (not the end of the world..) which leads to poor customer service, not knowing customers well, and a lack of business intelligence information (still maybe not the end of the world but getting pretty darn close when it comes to fundraising).

Key Takeaway: You are already making a decision to purchase something, think about the added benefits of spending a little bit more now that will pay off in great ways later.

3. Hidden costs

This is what isn’t tangibly accounted for but carries a cost to it. Or an, “Expense not normally included in the purchase price of an equipment or machine, such as for maintenance, supplies, training, and upgrades.

The airline industry is the King/Devil when it comes to this with baggage fees being the most obvious example. When you book your flight, it doesn’t calculate your $25 or $50 baggage fee, the cost of beer or alcoholic drinks or food (things that are complimentary in first class and should factor into your decision to upgrade your seat or not…).

For nonprofits, hidden costs often come down to time. Again. Time is the most misused resource across nonprofits. For example, it’s the hidden costs that often make events so expensive, but it’s also the hidden costs that make online donation fees so reasonable.

Most donation tools charge 2% – 3% plus Credit Card fees with Crowdfunding tools often charging a bit more. Having worked for a couple crowdfunding and donation processing companies I can’t tell you how much crap nonprofits put up over the (relatively) low percentages. “Cheques are free” they say or “why can’t donors just call in with their Credit Card information?”

First off, cheques aren’t free. Someone has to cash them, enter them into a database system, issue a thank you letter and a tax receipt – all things, most, donation tools automate for you. At Chimp, we estimated it took $15 to $25 for a nonprofit to process a cheque. So when someone sends in a $50 cheque, it is hardly ‘efficient’.

Secondly, asking donors to inconvenience themselves for our benefit means a bunch won’t do it. This mindset is partly why charitable giving, as a percentage of GDP, has barely moved, if at all, in the last 40 years! This example also brings in things like opportunity costs (allowing or not allowing online donations) and marginal costs (you are already paying the Credit Card fees, why not pay a bit more and allow donors to process it themselves?).

Key Takeaway: When it comes to costs, there are often real costs – dollars and time – that are not factored in. Not easily anyway. But it’s including these costs that can really make a difference in strategic and purchasing decisions.

HOW GOOD TECHNOLOGY AND PARTNERS CAN HELP

I’ve mentioned Chimp – where I used to work – as a company working to help with marginal, hidden and opportunity costs. There are plenty of others in this space likeClassy, Virtuous, Kindful and FundRazr, to name just a few, working to lower the cost of capital to raise money online.

In my work at Shift, we try to do this as well but through service provision (let us focus on things nonprofits may not be great at so they can focus more on their donors and customers).

But another company doing great work in this area and a relevant example to the costs conversation is 121 Giving (Disclosure: I’m a non-compensated friend and advisor to 121 Giving).

On the surface, 121 Giving is a crowdfunding platform that allows donors to give directly to products causes need – like beds for a homeless shelter. But what they are really doing, and why I got involved with them, is making it easier, and reducing the costs, for charities to get products for their work.

Instead of a staff person, or persons, trying to find the product, source the product, price compare the product and search for a discount on the product, they can just log in through 121 and purchase the items they need because 121 has already done that hard work for them.They don’t have to think about bulk or plan ahead because 121 has scale and inventory on demand. And they don’t have to calculate shipping, freight, taxes and other fees for these products because, again, 121 Giving does that.

Example of 121 Giving page

Example of 121 Giving page

They don’t have to think about bulk or plan ahead because 121 has scale and inventory on demand. And they don’t have to calculate shipping, freight, taxes and other fees for these products because, again, 121 Giving does that.

And for a very reasonable 8% fee.

Now this isn’t meant as a plug for 121, although they are great (I did say I get no compensation there right?), but a plug for all the new, old, and great companies working to help nonprofits reduce their costs. Specifically, the hidden, marginal and opportunity costs charities generally suck at. But for these companies to be useful (and profitable), nonprofits and their leaders need to better understand and evaluate their costs. All their costs.

SO…

If nonprofits and their leaders can better understand the costs of doing or not doing something (opportunity), of going that bit further when thinking about the longer-term (marginal), and the real costs including those unseen ones like time (hidden), they can then make better decisions when it comes to strategies and tools to use. In the end, this means more resources invested in ways that will lead to the most good and biggest impact – and isn’t that what we should all be focusing on?

Now about those flights…


Our favorite resources:

Our concluding thoughts?

Make sure you are properly budgeting for ALL the costs of your nonprofit marketing budget and not just selecting the cheapest. Be more critical of the free/basic plans when it comes to things like your CRM, email marketing software, and social media automation tools.

If you need more advice on the matter from a team that’s worked with nonprofits and their tight budgets in the past, reach out to our team at ArcStone.

Our Picks of Email Marketing Software for Nonprofits

Over the last several years, ArcStone has tried dozens of email marketing software services. Now we’ve sought out to compare three of the best viable options for our clients. Review the infographic below and then check out our advice regarding email marketing software for nonprofits specifically.

View full size PDF here

mailchimp-vs-constant_contact-vs-emma-infographic


Which email marketing software fits your nonprofit?

For a nonprofit just starting out, MailChimp may be your best bet. The basic plan will help you experiment with building email marketing campaigns, without a dent in your budget. What’s more, if you decide to go for a more advanced service, as a nonprofit you can receive a 15% discount from MailChimp. Since MailChimp functionalities tend to be some of the most advanced, you’re getting a good deal for great service.

If you already have a member of your team with strong design or technical experience, Constant Contact becomes a more affordable option. With a person to manage the accounts, the custom features give you plenty of functionality but at a better price than MailChimp or Emma. I would say a majority of the nonprofits that we connect with are using Constant Contact.

Lastly, if your audience depends largely on visuals/design quality, Emma may be worth the higher cost. They have the most customizable templates and a great team of friendly people to help!


 

To sign up for any of the above through ArcStone, or to simply gather some advice, reach out to our team.

For more on improving your email marketing, read both “How to Configure List Segmentation for Email Marketing” and “Would YOU Read Your Nonprofit Newsletter? Best Practices for Email Marketing.”

Improving A Nonprofit AdWords Campaign – Case Study

Did you know your nonprofit might qualify for $10,000 in Google Grants?

If you didn’t, read more in “Nonprofits Have No Fear: Google For Nonprofits Is Here“.

If you read this question and your immediate response is, “So what? They don’t work!” Think again. We want to walk you through how ArcStone improved a nonprofit AdWords campaign to the point of 178% increase in conversions. Yes, AdWords ads can work, they just have to be optimized correctly.

Our case study comes from the nonprofit Hunger Solutions and their Minnesota Food Helpline. The service helps people find food stamps or the nearest food shelf. It’s real people on the other end of the phone line, so people in need can receive one-on-one help. As long as they get to the landing page in the first place.

That’s where paid ads come in. Hunger Solutions had received their Google Grant, but the AdWords weren’t working for them. Their major challenge lay in how their audience is highly diverse and it’s difficult to show up in the right place at the right time.

So how does ArcStone approach an AdWords Campaign revision?

Step 1: Review what isn’t working in their current Google AdWords campaign
  • Review what people are and aren’t clicking on
  • Inquire which keywords they are using and what ones have worked
  • Uncover what happens when viewers click on an ad
  • Study where the difference is between their paid ads (the ones that cost more than the Google Grant $2 per click budget allows) and their grant ads to see when it’s worth it to pay for a more expensive click versus not
Step 2: Make strategic and Measurable campaign updates
  • Restructure the new ads so that results of changes we make are easier to track
  • Include negative keywords in each campaign so as to remove unwanted clicks
  • Optimize dynamic keywords to increase click-through-rates
  • Focus on improving the Quality Scores of ads by making the landing pages more relevant to the ad users click
  • Run “call only” campaigns on mobile to track the calls made directly from the ad/landing page to the phone line
  • Determine where it is more effective to use grant ads (with the lower $2 limit) versus paid ads
Step 3: Change the landing page

Before: many options of where to click, not very personable, lots of form fields to fill out

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After: cleaner, includes personable photos, simplified form fields

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Step 4: Study, test and re-do again!

Each month we track pre-defined metrics on the ads and then make small tweaks to monitor the next month.

Results
  • 178% increase in conversions over the course of the first month
  • 31% decrease in cost per click
  • 3X as many calls on mobile devices from the landing page

To ensure you’re not missing out in other aspects of Google Grants for Nonprofits, read “Not fully utilizing your Google Grant? Your Nonprofit is Missing Out

To receive some help from ArcStone, contact our team!

Examples of Great Nonprofit Websites Using WordPress

We sought out to uncover examples of great nonprofit websites built in WordPress in hopes you can follow suit for your nonprofit. Read about what design choices each nonprofit made which aided their mission, and how WordPress plugins and features helped as well.

Then consider downloading Idealware’s WordPress report to better understand plugin capabilities.

nonprofit-wordpress-site-design-examplesAcumen

  • design:
    • photos – the homepage photos take up the whole screen with photos from the field – full of emotion – drawing the viewer in from the get-go
    • color scheme – they use bright bold colors which emphasizes their “bold” way of tackling poverty around the world
    • calls to action – all of their CTA’s point towards the action of learning more about how they help
  • use of WordPress:
    • HTML5 – includes latest in ajax loading, infinity scrolling and use of javascript. This helps in loading all photos faster.
    • Custom Post Types – makes content creation easier as it’s very straightforward for any user
    • Plugins – maximizes social sharing (again call to action = to share)
    • Custom blog tagging system – pulls in relevant content to different places throughout the site, increasing blog traffic & time on site
    • Convio – eases donation process with their CRM integration


Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.22.09 AM

We Promise Foundation

  • DESIGN:
    • clean layout – this is a very simple site and it’s easy to navigate throughout
    • calls to action – they draw attention to their events. Their homepage really only includes a homepage video, their 3 featured events and the latest news from the field
    • clear description – it’s easy to tell what they do right from the start
  • Use of WordPress:
    • Analytics – a strong analytics component helps them understand their user flow and how effective their CTA’s are might be a reason they’ve raised $3 million this year
    • Gravity Forms – their use of this email list building tool (one we recommend here) has built up their donor database

best-nonprofit-wordpress-sites

the Jane Goodall Institute

  • Design:
    • interactive page load – scrolling through the page, you learn more as you go. The numbers update as you go which incentivizes a user to stay on the page
    • emphasis on Jane – as the founder of the organization Jane Goodall is obviously important, yet they do a good job of placing her photos & quotes intermittently throughout the homepage to show a personal touch, without overdoing it
  • Use of WordPress:
    • Yoast SEO – with this plugin, they ensure all of their pages, blogs & other content is optimized for search. Read more on why we recommend this for nonprofits here.
    • Total Cache – increases page load speed and as such, improves user experience. This is helpful as they have many different pieces to their nonprofit and a lot of content for the user to digest.

population-media-center-nonprofit_wordpress-site

Population Media Center

  • Design:
    • call outs – one of the first things the user sees on the homepage is the specific way in which Population Media Center addresses their mission. Tactics such as “Serial Dramas” help them to stand out in their unique approach.
    • interactive feature – they have a component halfway down the page that shows the number of births since your visit. This keeps the user even more engaged.wordpress-site-design-features
    • call to action – they equate all of their calls to action in one row, showing that involvement makes a difference even if it doesn’t come in the form of a large donation
  • Use of WordPress:
    • PowerPress Podcast – since they use media as a way to engage with their mission, this powerful podcast plugin is great for their site
    • Font Awesome – another aspect that stand out on the site is their use of font. The WordPress plugin helps to increase page load speed even with all of the fonts.

wordpress-nonprofit-site-examples

CURE International

  • Design:
    • clean – this site might be the most simple yet engaging WordPress design example we’ve found. It just includes a photo of smiling kids and two options for ways to help. It makes involvement feel doable to a user. As a user goes through the site, unlike many others, you don’t get overwhelmed with content. The simple design of a few photos with simple CTA’s remains.
  • Use of WordPress:
    • FastClick – keeps the movement through their site feeling rapid
    • Twitter Embeds – allows for a tweet to be embedded into a blog with more than just the tweet as it includes links for interacting on Twitter

examples-of-great-nonprofit-websitesMinnesota Masonic Home

  • Design
    • focus on viewer – when designing this site, ArcStone focused on the end-user: an elderly audience. This means there are different font size options for each page and the navigation is simple
    • emphasis on location – since Masonic Charities wanted to promote the home, ArcStone designed the site around the beautiful photography and highlighted many different pieces of their new building.
  • use of wordpress
    • across-the-board management – all Masonic Charities sites are built in WordPress, so the team does not have to work with many different platforms. They can easily manage their content with this flexible, user-friendly CMS.
    • Pro Event Calendar – besides the previously mentioned ArcStone favorite WordPress plugins, Masonic Homes uses WordPress Pro Event Calendar seeing as this is a main function of their center. This makes event planning and coordination much easier as it manages your events, connects them to Google Maps and Facebook and much more.

Wishing your nonprofit’s website could keep up with these? It can!

Review of WordPress for Nonprofits

report-on-wordpress

Why is it that 16 million websites use WordPress?

To explain why ArcStone and Idealware answer this question with a resounding “YES!” they paired up and put together a review of WordPress for nonprofits. The Landscape of WordPress for Nonprofits emphasizes how WordPress works especially well for this industry.

Let’s review what you’ll learn from this read:

1) First the review covers how to get started with WordPress; such as if you should go with an agency or do it yourself

2) Then it shifts to the reports primary focus: various plugins for nonprofits and how well they suit a nonprofit’s needs. They point to your options, review each plugin, and link to where you can find it. This includes capabilities for…

  •  Your Marketing Team

– easier content creation

– content management integration

– event calendars

– template & page builders

– social media & other communication tools integration

– analyzing your site’s performance

– SEO strategy

  • Your Tech Department

– automated backups

– search tools for your users

– transaction processing

– keeping your site secure

– creating website forms

Consider downloading the report – for you or a nonprofit you know – and contact us with any questions!

wordpress-for-nonprofits

 

 

 

Nonprofit WordPress Site Design Before and After – Simpson Housing Services

Before meeting ArcStone, Simpson Housing Services had developed a strong nonprofit, with much-needed services for their community. They even had an exciting new logo and had undergone a rebranding process to keep their image consistent across the board. However, their site was still behind.

The outdated aesthetics didn’t match the new branding. The functionality suffered as it wasn’t mobile-friendly, contained too much content and didn’t work well with their volunteer and donation platforms. Lastly, the lower-quality photos (sometimes even stock photos) didn’t highlight the authenticity of the organization.

Before WordPress design:

nonprofit-website-redesign-before-and-after

See more at: WayBack Machine

That’s where ArcStone came in. Knowing the factors above, we decided the WordPress platform would be the best fit for both the design and the usability. We also decided it was necessary to put a good amount of focus on utilizing Simpson’s professional photos and designing the site around featuring Simpson’s people.

After WordPress design:

 – homepage –

nonprofit-website-redesign-before-and-after

– footer – 

nonprofit-website-design-before-and-after

So how do we approach such a project? With each redesign ArcStone does, we closely study a nonprofit’s audience and focus on designing the site around what those users would want. From there we work with the organization to synthesize content and reorganize or establish their blog. As seen with Simpson, we also make it easier for the organization to get into the the site so they can quickly make changes to site content.

If you’re curious about how WordPress works for nonprofits, consider downloading the recent Idealware report – “The Landscape of WordPress for Nonprofits.” It’s free and walks you through what your nonprofit might go through during a redesign, what questions you should consider, and what other resources you have. If you’re considering working with ArcStone, contact us today.

How to Choose a Digital Agency for Your WordPress Site

Your nonprofit is currently working with or considering using WordPress for your website. Or perhaps your past webmaster or developer has left – and you are looking for a long-term agency to rely on. You don’t know who can or who should help. There’s many factors that go into your site – the design, hosting, plugins, SEO, analytics content creation, etc. etc. – and you don’t have the experience or time to do it all.

You ask, “how are we to choose a digital agency for our WordPress site?”

There’s not an easy answer or a formula, but there are a few questions to help further uncover your needs. Ask yourself and/or your team the following and you will be a bit closer to finding the right digital agency for your nonprofit.

Shameless plug: ArcStone has been working with several nonprofits over the last few years. They’d love to work with you. Call us up today to see if we fit your needs.

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5 Questions to ask when choosing a digital agency…

1. Which technology do they typically work with?

There are endless possibilities when it comes to technology these days, so it’s important that your nonprofit hones in on what its specific needs are currently and will be down the road. When it comes to your digital agency, look for one that specializes in the technology that matters most to you.

– What language does your IT department use? Do you need a website host?Which CMS does the agency typically recommend?

– If you need someone with WordPress experience, how long have they been working with the platform? Do they use other platforms or have they standardized on WordPress? Do they custom build and design their WordPress sites or purchase WordPress templates?

Each of these factors can influence the quality and cost of your nonprofit’s WordPress website.

Read on for more on why ArcStone works with WordPress as our go-to CMS. Also, learn about 3 WordPress plugins we work with and recommend specifically for nonprofits.

2. What services are included within their agency? What do they have to outsource?

In working on a website, you obviously need an agency that has both a technology and design background, but what other needs might arise in the long run?

– Can this agency host your site? Help you with your marketing analytics? Set up your paid ad campaign? What are the on-going support costs?

– And what about on the creative side of things? Can they provide photo or video services? Do they do rebranding projects or design marketing collateral?

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3. Do they have relevant experience? 

This is especially important for nonprofits. When an agency understands the depth of stories a nonprofit deals with and what audiences you are attempting to reach, they are way ahead of the game in helping you. Ask for case studies, testimonials and references.

– Has the agency worked with nonprofits in the past? Have they built nonprofit WordPress sites? Any case studies available? Are they similar results to what you hope for?

Take a peek at ArcStone’s case studies with nonprofits such as Youthlink, Kids In Need, MN Firehire, Masonic Charities, and Hunger Solutions.

4. How do they typically approach a project like this? 

This is a more nuanced feature of any agency. Some companies may be really focused on getting to know your audiences and developing a strategy on targeting those (read more about our focus in our ebook: Nonprofit Audience Persona Development). Others rely more on a design heavy or flashy website. Either is appropriate depending on your needs.

5. Does their culture fit with yours?

This is probably the most important question to consider. You should figure out how they communicate, and if it fits with your nonprofit. Since there are so many agencies out there, your nonprofit’s communication habits and culture don’t have to adapt – you can find an agency that makes a good match with what you have.

– Visit their agency itself and invite them to your office. Try to get to know their team and ask more in-depth questions like: Are you large and diverse or small and agile? How do you typically communicate with your clients? What do you do that sets you apart from other agencies? What do you love most about our nonprofit?

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Read more on culture fit in “Choosing a Digital Agency: My First Week at ArcStone.” 

Idealware’s recent report, The Landscape of WordPress for Nonprofits, dives into several questions to ask as well. Read more on deciding if your agency should be local, if you should work with an individual consultant or a firm, and under what circumstances you might be able to tackle alone. Download the report here.