Running a nonprofit organization is extremely difficult. Unless you’ve been blessed with a massive endowment or a generous namesake patron with bottomless pockets, operating a charitable or educational organization is as challenging as running any for-profit business. Many of the problems are the same, with a constant need to find and grow income.
Not only does your organization’s message need to be heard from among your “competitors,” you’re also competing for a share of a finite (or shrinking) pool of funds. Foundations and individual donors can only give so much, and the needs are great. Your message is but one in a cacophony of deserving missions — all seeking to improve our world.
And Update My Website has been working for a few months to assist one such nonprofit organization, Parenting Now!, stand out and be heard. We’re helping them follow a path that has worked wonders for many other businesses and organizations: Content Marketing.
The situation we learned about when we first met this organization will likely sound similar to other groups you may know. The presenting issue was a website that they were not happy with. This was now the fourth site the group had as their public face, which had been done by several different vendors and staff members.
The good news was the site was implemented in WordPress, which was helpful, as it was a CMS and it wasn’t proprietary. The bad news was the website did not reflect the national stature and visual identity of the organization. The site not only looked unprofessional, it was especially good at hiding what was actually a rich and valuable source of information for parents and others.
In addition to having a neglected website, Parenting Now! was an active user of Facebook. The Facebook page got regular updates and the group was reaching a number of local parents. However, as we have written about, the reach of posts on that platform is declining. The new Executive Director, Lynne Swartz, had read the article, and gave me a call.
Parenting Now! provides parenting education and support to families with young children. They fulfill their mission through direct service to families and sales of curricula and material to parenting educators.
Since its founding in 1978, Parenting Now! has served more than 93,000 local parents and children.
Parenting Now! has developed nationally recognized parenting education curricula used at more than 800 sites in 46 states and Washington, D.C.; 18 international locations; and in Native American and Native Hawaiian communities.
Content Audiences: parents, alumni, corporate and individual donors, volunteers, funding agencies and foundations, other parenting education service providers worldwide.
Begin With Research
Interviews were held with the organization’s management team and with all major departments to learn more about their goals, their activities, and their priorities for the website and for connecting with their respective audiences.
We did a deep dive into the current website, to understand the content of the site, the technical structure, and the current readership of the site, using tools like Google Analytics.
And with this basic information, we began to create what will be a more important tool over time: a Content Marketing Plan. This documented strategy will be used to guide the development of new website content and future social media sharing. The preliminary plan enabled us to make thoughtful decisions about how to address the immediate need, an updated website.
Working with And Update My Website has been a shot in the arm for our organization. You’ve helped us refresh our marketing strategy, bringing us more closely into alignment and approach with what our young families experience in the rest of their online worlds. Thank you!
— Lynne Swartz, Executive Director of Parenting Now!
Building a Better Website & Foundation
As resources and time were constrained, we agreed to build a new website, then improve the site’s content over time. We also agreed that we didn’t need to get it right, or perfect, in one pass. We would make our best guess at what to change, measure the results, and adapt the plan with the new information. This takes the stress off everyone, and improves our chances of measurable success.
The New Website
The Old Website
Original website, long sidebar.
The new website, well, you can be the judge. What we’ve done is give the site a new, solid foundation. The site is built on the Genesis Framework, with a modern, responsive theme that has been customized to match the branding of the organization. The site, with better code underneath, is importantly responsive. It displays well across a variety of screen sizes and platforms. This is important especially as busy parents, a core audience, is very likely to use a smartphone to view the site.
We also note that this site’s navigation is configured to align with the persona types we identified during our initial planning stages. It is more clear to a parent or a potential donor, where we want them to visit.
With these changes we’ve also added tools to empower user sharing of content with social networks, an important method of increasing the reach of a site’s content. Each share brings new exposure to the mission of Parenting Now! at no added cost to the organization.
We’ve also trained the organization’s staff in using the website, and are providing ongoing guidance for both technical and marketing improvements. This will make the entire process more affordable and more likely to continue. Nothing blocks progress like having to constantly ask an outsider for help.
To be clear, we’re at the beginning of what will be a long-term path. Like parenting, this is a process, not an event. The website’s content, while good, needs more work to inform the public and to connect with each of the audiences we’ve identified. For this non-profit, content marketing needs to become a way of life, not a single event, like launching a new website.
We, along with the staff of this organization, expect to fully develop the marketing plan we have started — and implement it. Email marketing will be added, to create a one-to-one connection with engaged visitors. Web content, especially blog posts targeted for each persona will be planned, calendared, written, published and promoted on social media.
We plan to share updates on the progress made by this great organization over time, with the hope that others can learn how non-profit content marketing can work for their causes. Already we note an increase of pageviews and pages per visit, just by better displaying the existing content. The real measure of how this plan is working will be significant movement in Key Performance Indicators, things like website engagement, social sharing, link building, volunteer recruitment, and donations.
If you’d like to learn more about how content marketing can help your organization, we’re but a click away.