Close your eyes and think about your living room.
Think about your TV. Think about the furniture around your TV.
Do you have a shelf full of DVD’s and Blu-ray discs? Probably movies that you saw once in theaters, loved, then decided you needed to own?
God, I hope it’s not just me…
Actually, I know it’s not just me. Whenever I visit a friend’s apartment, I see the same set up. Shelves full of movies.
But here’s the thing:
Do you ever actually watch them?
Oh sure, there’s one on the shelf that gets a lot of playtime (it’s Stepbrothers, okay? Don’t judge me.) But other than that, they collect a lot of dust.
Same goes for all the books on my shelves. I read them, enjoyed them, and can’t bear to part with them. But how often do I ever re-read them?
Now my Netflix account, on the other hand, gets more airtime than a Donald Trump rally, and the magazine, blogs, and other periodicals I read get my attention on a regular basis.
So what gives?
What gives is this: I don’t reread books or re-watch movies because I already know what’s there. I’ve seen it. I know it. There’s nothing new.
But I tune into shows and read magazine because there’s always something new. Something I haven’t seen that I might enjoy.
So it is with your nonprofit’s website.
Why people don’t visit your nonprofit’s website.
Look, I’ll be the first to warn you about the dangers of focusing on web traffic. Everybody wants more traffic on their site. Nonprofits, bloggers, news outlets. But traffic is NOT the end all, be all success metric of any website.
Why should you care about 200,000 visitors to your site if they don’t care about your mission at all? That’s useless.
Don’t. Make. Traffic. Your. Number. One. Goal.
That being said, you do want to attract the right people to your website. You want people who care about the work you do reading about it, sharing it, learning more, and (hopefully) donating their time and resources to the cause.
And the way you do that is by building an audience.
Here’s the thing: audiences don’t come around if there’s nothing new to see.
If your website is just some pages explaining the work you do and that’s all it is and it never changes, it’s just another dusty DVD on my shelf. Once I’ve looked at it once, there’s no real reason for me to come back.
However, if you regularly publish new material that’s high quality and relevant to my interests, then I’m absolutely interested in coming back!
Now you’re Netflix, not a DVD.
So how do you do that? It’s not something you can dive into lightly and without a plan.
Well, you can, but you’ll waste a bunch of time and resources and not have much luck. So if that’s what you’re into, by all means…
But, if you think wasting time and resources is a bad idea (gold star for you), then you need a plan. Who’s your audience? What’s the intended outcome? What does your audience like? What do they read? Where do they read it?
There are literally hundreds of blog posts to be written about all of that. But I’m not doing that today. I just don’t feel like it, if I’m being honest.
Today, I want to share some ideas and inspiration.
Cool ideas from cool nonprofits.
One of my favorite ways I’ve seen nonprofits create an audience around their work is by making a super creative, targeted resources that helps solve a problem for their audience.
If you take a look at the most visited nonprofit websites, you’ll see most of them do this in some capacity. That’s why they have such huge traffic numbers: people don’t just come to their site once. They come again and again and again. Then they share it with multiple friends, and those friends come back again and again and again.
Now, we can’t all become the next Wikipedia, but there are tons of great examples out there of nonprofits who created web resources in order to drive repeat visitors to their site.
Let’s take a look at a few:
**A word of warning on this one: it’s a database of hate symbols. Some of them may make you uncomfortable. Discretion advised.**
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a nonprofit that has long fought for civil rights and social justice for disenfranchised groups. They’ve been vocal critics of hate in all its forms.
Knowing that their supporters want to help further the cause, they created this database of frequently used hate symbols so to help bring them out of secrecy, so they can be called out and reported appropriately when spotted.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be a lonely experience. Who amongst your social circle can really understand what you’re going through?
The American Lung Association saw a chance to solve this with their Inspire.com support communities. Users can ask questions, interact, and read resources for dealing with their disease.
Taproot Foundation connects people looking to do skilled-volunteering or pro bono work with nonprofits in need. On their website, nonprofits can apply to find pro bono workers, and pro bono workers can browse jobs.
Skill-volunteering is increasing in popularity, particularly amongst young people, so this is a great way to connect with that audience.
This one is simple and for the life of me, I don’t know why more nonprofits don’t take advantage of it. Chances are, you’ve already got some high quality photos lying around of some of your programs. Format them for social media sites, add some branding, and voila! A resource people who care about your cause can use!
DoSomething’s central mission is helping teens and young adults find ways they can improve the world around them without a car, an adult, or money. On their homepage, visitors can pick projects to do filtered by cause area, time, and project type. It’s so incredibly easy and seamless. Teens looking to do some community service can find creative projects and sign up for instructions on how to do it.
Check out this “Trash Scavenger Hunt” as an example. Brilliant!
More great ideas.
Looking for some more great ideas? Check out this free webinar we’re hosting on how to drive more traffic to your nonprofit’s website!