How to manage your Board of Directors during a nonprofit website design project

nonprofit-site-design

Your Board of Directors deserves a whole lot of credit for keeping your nonprofit alive. However, during a nonprofit website design project, we hear they tend to cause some issues. It’s likely your Board is full of wonderful, yet opinionated people, all of whom care deeply regarding where your nonprofit’s precious funds are being allocated. If all of these Board Members are interjecting their opinion throughout each phase of your website design, you’re going to experience frustration.

This becomes especially problematic when these discussions start to slow down the redesign, causing missed deadlines, unmet expectations and unexpected budget changes. Moreover, if you don’t have one person who has the final say, arguments arise. So how can you manage your Board of Directors throughout your design project?

Pre-project

The more planning that gets done prior to your project launch, the better. This will help you determine your project’s needs, choose your vendor and set up a strong team structure before things get crazy. If you and your team set this up and agree upon things early on, when conflicts arise, you’ll have these decisions to point back to.

Assign roles

1. Who will choose the vendor?

2. Who all needs to be updated on the overall project status? Who needs to be involved on a day-to-day level?

3. Who will make the final calls on all project decisions? Who is responsible for project success?

Explain this to the rest of your organization as well, talking through why a smaller team will lead to greater efficiency. That way, if Board Members or otherwise get overly involved, you don’t have to immediately shut their opinions down, but can point back to how you mutually agreed upon the the ultimate decision maker.

Hire a project manager

If you can afford one, a project manager can be a huge asset to the success of your nonprofit website redesign. They become worth their weight in gold as they keep you on time and on budget. If this project manager is from a 3rd party, they also step in with their unbiased perspective to resolve any conflicts between your Board and team members.

Interview or survey your staff and Board

Everyone likes to be heard—especially when you’re designing a site that will work as the new face of your organization. By asking for their opinions before the project, you establish that you care what they have to say and give them a chance to say it. This is a more regulated way to get them involved but also helps to alleviate their interjections when they are not being asked for down the road. Best of all, people have amazing ideas and you’ll have plenty from which to choose.

During the project

Provide status updates

We all know communication is key and no one likes surprises when it comes to budgets and projects. However, that doesn’t have to mean a daily or even weekly meeting with your staff or Board. Instead, set up a structure for status updates or memos.

When you send these out, update everyone on where you are with the project overall. This is also an opportunity to ask any questions to the appropriate team members if an opinion is needed.

Project status updates will make people feel more involved, help remove constant questioning from those that are less involved and keep enthusiasm up for your nonprofit as a whole.

Focus on donors, volunteers and other site users

It’s easy to get caught up in what you and your project committee think is right and what you want to see. Instead, keep coming back to the end-user: your site is mainly made for donors, volunteers, community members and those in need. When you come to a difficult decision, keep these audience members at the forefront of your thoughts.

Listen to the professionals

Again, it’s easy to get caught up in what you think is best, but you hired the professionals for a reason. They know what they’re doing! Encourage them to keep presenting ideas to you. For more complex decisions, you can even have them come into the office and show their ideas to your team. Odds are they will be better at communicating their ideas and this collaborative effort will result in a better website.

Wrapping up the project

Present the site

Rather than sending the new site link in an email, it’s beneficial to sit down with everyone at once and talk through the site. This way, you’ll have a chance to explain the decisions you’ve made and they can understand how you hope the site will be used.

You can even use this time to train the staff in on how to enter blog posts or make updates if they will be involved with that. Lastly be sure to set up a system for how team members can report any bugs or errors they come across, as it’s inevitable that one or ten will exist.

Discuss next steps

The worst thing you can do post site launch is to let your site just sit there. It needs to be optimized and updated. This launch meeting provides a place for talking about what the goals are for fully utilizing your site day-to-day. If there are phase 2 projects, you can discuss what the priorities are and what these costs look like. If you do a good job at presenting these initiatives, the Board can fight for them, helping to make them happen.


If you’re thinking about a redesign, here are our favorite resources for starters:

10 Step Blueprint for a Nonprofit Website Redesign

25+ Website Redesign Resources

Considering a new nonprofit brand? Start here.

nonprofit-branding

Rebranding is difficult – remember New Coke or The Hut? It’s unlikely that you do: those brands failed miserably. If you don’t roll out your rebranding campaign with a thoughtful plan, your initiatives will most likely fall flat or worse yet, damage your image and undo the positive work you’ve done.

Before diving into a rebranding campaign, it’s important first to understand why you feel your organization needs a rebrand and what you’re hoping to achieve through rebranding. Rebranding is more than a name change or a new logo on your organization’s stationery. Rebranding involves your core messaging, your culture, your attitude and your approach.

There are several reasons to rebrand.

Some of the most compelling include:

  • You’re trying to broaden or reach new audiences.
  • You’ve changed your focus.
  • You are offering new services or products.
  • Your brand is dated and hasn’t evolved as much as your audience has.

Names, logos, messages and cultures are very subjective. What appeals to one person might be a total turn off for the next. For this reason, it’s critical to base your decisions on data.

So, how do you began a rebranding campaign?

1. A good place to start is by talking to key stakeholders.

This might include staff, Board members and volunteers. You should aim to take their overall temperature and find out whether they’re on board. If they don’t agree with the idea of rebranding, find out why. If they agree that it’s necessary, ask them to elaborate.

2. Next, assemble key stakeholders for a branding workshop.

By enlisting the help of staff and Board, you not only get to leverage their insights, but you also reduce the stress of uncertainty that they’ll buy-in later on.

The goal of the branding workshop is to identify the core identity of the organization and uncover any brand equity that may be potentially be lost.

Once you’re done, be sure to review all of feedback and synthesize results to narrow the options.

3. Now you can coordinate a survey with the short list of options.

Please note, this list should be short – 3-5 options. Limiting the list ensures that people taking your survey won’t encounter decision fatigue.

4. Finally, you can make the final decision.

This is tough to do as a committee. Ultimately, one person or a very small group will need to have the final say. That’s why hearing from stakeholders along the way is so critical.


The keys to a successful rebranding campaign are collaboration and allowing time to reflect. Through collaboration ideas will iterate and with time, insights and will burble up and come into sharp focus.

Online Engagement Measurement for nonprofits – An offer to help you understand your site data

google-analytics-reports-for-nonprofits

I have a nonprofit site… But now what?

What’s driving donations and what isn’t? Why do some volunteers signup through your online form while others do not? Is your message getting across to the right audience? Does your nonprofit website even show up in search results?

These are the questions most nonprofits ask and most don’t have the time to seek out answers for each time they need them.

Imagine opening up a digital dashboard and seeing the numbers you need to know right away. Maybe you’d want to know exactly how many visitors filled out your volunteer form that week compared to last, where they came from or why they left the form page. You’d know where to put your marketing budget, what efforts are working and what isn’t, and would have a better understanding of who is on your site in the first place.

We all know data such as Google Analytics is pretty central to digital marketing these days. We also all know how overwhelming it can be when first opening up a report and not having a plan of action for where to look. All the numbers could be useful to know, but only if you have time to analyze what they mean and then the time to apply them to your digital strategy.

In the end, the power of Google Analytics falls flat as you don’t end up informing many of your decisions with real data.

We want to make your digital marketing decisions easier, backed up by Google Analytics data

We have an offer going to set your Google Analytics account up for long-term benefits.

With this offer we will:

  • Review your Google Analytics account and customize what you view when you open it up
  • Build a report tailored to your strategy, automatically sending a weekly or monthly email update straight to your inbox (to use at your next Board meeting or in your yearly report)
  • Track your most important “Goals” to help you study the performance of your website and measure what strategies are working and what could be improved

Fill out this form to get in touch with our digital strategist, Jenna.

The benefits of having these reports set up for your nonprofit’s Google Analytics include:

  • A clearer understanding of your donors, volunteers and general site user’s
  • A starting point for any of your future site updates, forms, calls to action and landing pages
  • Better metrics for calculating the financial benefit of your website
  • Easy to share reports for your Board of Directors, staff and donors

Example nonprofit Google Analytics custom report: 

nonprofit-google-analytics-setup

 

Ready to take advantage of your Google Analytics insight?

Sign up for the offer and start the new year off strong (and the many new years to come)»!

Nonprofit social media report – best practices before you present to your Board of Directors

nonprofit-social-media-report

Many nonprofit marketers see the value in social media as it builds your community in the digital sphere. However, many nonprofit Board of Directors may not see the value. A possible solution: A quick report that effectively shows the power of social media.

A two part post by Raissa Mendes on Medium illustrates how we can make this social media report happen.

To start your social media report:

1. Establish the criteria with which you’re reporting

First, focus on your goals on social media. Are they more big picture, such as gaining more followers and more traffic to your nonprofit website? Or, are they aimed at driving people to your donation page or engaging with a specific influencer or cause? Map out which numbers matter to you.

2. Determine how often you’ll report on your nonprofit’s social media

Don’t just say you’ll start more reporting and then do it when you find a spare moment every few months. Set a date on your Google Calendar that notifies you bi-weekly or monthly. Some ideas from Mendes includes weekly, every 28 days, every 90 days or every time you launch a new campaign. If your nonprofit is often sporadic in how often you allocate time for social media, you may want to stick with this last option as you will see the most in a targeted campaign.

As you continue building your report…

3. Figure out how you want to phrase your reporting to your Board of Directors

You can use comparative reporting = How something has changed from this month versus last month or the like. This is best for if your nonprofit is trying something new.

Actuality reporting = Look at one specific point in time. How much traffic is coming to your site from a specific post?

Campaign-based reporting = Determine if your campaign has performed well. Has it impacted donations or volunteer sign ups? Have you reached your goals?

Specific numbers your nonprofit can point to:

4. Volume of posts

Monitor how frequently you’re able to update your social media channels and website blog. Is there a positive correlation to this number and overall website traffic?

5. Clicks

The number of times a piece of content gets clicked on could indicate your audience’s interest in the content or the success of a factor like the title or image you chose. There are a few ways Mendes breaks down clicks:

a) Total clicks = “Sum the clicks from each post in a specific date range”

b) Clicks / post = “Total clicks / # of posts”

c) Clicks / followers = “Click per post / total # of followers”

6. Impressions

This is valuable to point out to your Board as it shows them how many sets of eyes are viewing your content. This may include people who haven’t even followed you on social media as many platforms reach beyond existing followers.

7. Engagement

This is one that may get foggy for any Board member who likes specific proof of your social media account’s effectiveness. Engagement includes clicks, shares, likes and comments; to any digital marketer, we know this means our audience is interacting with us, which eventually could lead to a donation or more involvement with your nonprofit down the funnel. However, you may need to explain how this correlates when you report to your Board.

Some interesting ways to track engagement numbers include engagement per post and engagement per follower. This can highlight if your effort to increase post frequency or number of followers directly correlates with how much interaction you get on your accounts.

8. Social Referral Traffic

It doesn’t take a Google Analytics expert to take a look at how much traffic is coming from social media to your website. Once you have this number, you can see how well your social media accounts are performing. If you are analytics-savvy enough to track how social media leads are moving through your site, and you see an increase in donation page visits or sign up forms, you know your social media accounts are taking flight.

What to do with all these numbers:

Now that you have a beautiful amount of numbers, take time each reporting period to draw some conclusions. When you put X amount of time into social media you get X amount of donations. When you invest X amount of your marketing budget into social media, you get X amount of traffic to your website. The more time you take to reflect, the more targeted and efficient you can be with your social media efforts down the road. Eventually, you can show your Board of Directors that the initial investment in social media means you can decrease spend down the road.

Need help setting yourself up with a healthy social media report? Contact ArcStone to speak with our digital strategists.

Nonprofit staff bonding or fundraiser idea – Olympics

nonprofit-fundraising-ideasIn our ArcStone office, we were rather inspired by the athletes of Rio this year. Rather than merely watching the games, we decided to participate, to the best of our abilities. When you put together designers, developers and business gurus, the competition gets fierce.

Continue reading if you want to take these games into your own nonprofit office or even your next fundraiser. Don’t worry, we won’t penalize you for gleaning some ideas from us!

Nonprofit Fundraiser Ideas (or staff bonding) from ArcStone Olympics:

1. Host an opening ceremonies of your own:

What you need:

2. “Discus” throwing competition

It helped that we had unwanted, unusable laptops at our disposable, but you’ll have to think up an item related to your nonprofit or fundraiser. We don’t recommend throwing your own laptops. They will break.

What you need:

  • Field or path (again, Midtown Greenway saves the day – look out bikers…)
  • Two strong participants with good aim so they don’t knock out your videographer
  • Two items – preferably flat and throwable – that you don’t mind breaking

3. Arrow shooting contest

Again, the unwanted computers came to our aid.

What you need:

  • Bow and arrow from ToysRUs
  • Target (computer screen may not be a good option for you, but a window should work)
  • Way to mark the target

4. Swimming Race:

What you need:

  • Swim “suit”
  • Snorkels
  • Filing cabinets with wheels

If you need help brainstorming, promoting or recording your next fundraiser, contact our team! We promise we’re not as weird as we appear in these videos.

What motivates people to take action for your cause? [Infographic]

Day to day, we often get caught up in many little things and neglect the bigger picture: what motivates us? Better yet, what motivates the people we work with and to whom we market towards? Same phenomena happens with your nonprofit. Donors, volunteers and the community at large says, “yeah, I’ll help and contribute to the greater good,” and they have the intention to do so. Then day to day they are too busy to remember to do something with that thought. Your nonprofit needs members, but how are they motivated to actually join? And what can you do to keep them motivated to stay?

Software provider and consultant company Abila conducted a study and came up with an in-depth infographic on what motivates people to be a member of a nonprofit. The data and visuals help clarify what is the reality behind motivation versus what many nonprofits assume it to be.

The infographic on nonprofit membership engagement covers…

  • The age people are most likely to sign up – are they ambitious millennials, or only taking time when they retire?
  • Why they might decide to opt out – was it what your nonprofit did, or their own personal life that got in the way?
  • The difference between why most organizations assume people sign up versus why individuals do sign up – what motivates them in the first place and on what is your nonprofit missing out?
  • What benefits each generation values from their membership. This is especially great for you if you have a content strategy based on audience (if not, check out this infographic). It also compares this to what organizations assume people value.
  • A spectrum of engaging vs. dull activities – what types of activities can your nonprofit do to engage their members?

Take a look at the full article here or click on the infographic below to see the larger image:

nonprofit-membership-engagement-strategies

Need help targeting your audience?

ArcStone specializes in audience persona development. Request a quote or set up a meeting with our team!

Convincing Your Nonprofit Board Content Marketing Matters

Content marketing matters. And for reasons you or your nonprofit board of directors may not have guessed. In case you still need to convince those board members or your funders that content marketing is a worthy investment, this article can help.

why-content-marketing-matters

First, what exactly does content marketing mean? According to the Content Marketing Institute,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

It’s not simply a blog or your website content, but rather is the combination of these plus your social media messaging, ebooks, reports, video, images and more.

Written by Jim Yu for Search Engine Watch, the article is entitled, “Content Marketing: Understanding Its Role, Value and ROI.” He walks us through studies that show content marketing’s increasing significance, but also the main limitations we all face with it. He also shows which job roles it can positively influence and how an organization can measure this.

Below are a few of the more thought-provoking pieces I came across for nonprofits specifically. Review the following and see if they help you move forward with your content marketing strategy

The main hindrances nonprofits run into:

As Yu points out for companies in general, “…there have been numerous limiting factors that have prevented companies from taking full advantage of its potential capabilities.” Why?

  • “A lack of a content strategy” – This is especially relevant for your nonprofit with its lack of time and resources.
  • “Interference from those in management” – Similarly, nonprofits are constantly needing approval from their board of directors as well as donors. This can interrupt their efficiency.
  • “Haphazard approaches in the development of content and a lack of dedicated teams.” – Again, nonprofits often lack the resources and team needed for this so their strategy becomes inconsistent and ineffective.

Jim Yu is encouraging on these pain points because he sees the ways content marketing is maturing – such as with Google’s updated algorithms.

“As brands learn to employ the full power of content marketing, they will be able to measure how it impacts the full range of roles within the brand, including the marketing, sales, PR, recruitment and customer service teams.”

If your nonprofit can show how much more important it is today than ever before, perhaps your donors and board members will be more willing to dedicate the hours and budget needed for developing this area.

Convincing your nonprofit board content marketing matters:

Yu points to several roles that can use content marketing. This is helpful for nonprofits since in some ways, it allows multi-tasking. The stronger your content marketing strategy, the more it can help several roles at your nonprofit; it’s not just helping your marketing team. Here are the basics of what he points to:

  1. Marketing – helps improve SEO rankings, social media and your overall website presence. This all goes into increasing your brand awareness.
  2. Development – Yu underlines that an “estimated 60% of the sales process” happens before a potential donor, volunteer or service user even talks to someone in the sales/development realm. The person is doing research online and deciding if they want to reach out to your nonprofit.
  3. Customer Service / Donor Relations – User-centric content and web design helps build loyalty from readers to your nonprofit. You can also more easily reach out to these folks if you’ve already established a relationship online.
  4. Recruitment – With a strong online presence and plenty of resources available for learning about how great your nonprofit is, potential employees will be pushed one step closer to joining your team.
  5. Public Relations – Having a blog and a strong online following will make promoting your events, success stories and fundraising campaigns all the more doable. You can just put these announcements right on your active site, blog and social pages.
  6. Measurement – Through proper data analysis of your website, social media pages, and CRM, you will have plenty to report in your annual reports and you will better understand your user base and what they want. Once you make improvements based on these measurements, you’ll make better decisions for your nonprofit.

As you can see, investing in content marketing is more and more important to your nonprofit every day. Hopefully you feel a bit more ready to convince your board and funders of its importance for roles outside of marketing. Get set up with your content marketing strategy today by contacting our digital strategists at ArcStone.