September 24, 2017
 
Build Your Online Presence on a Limited Budget

By Nick Colakovic

Nick Colakovic
An online presence is a must today for most nonprofit organizations, and a strong online presence can go a long way to effectively communicate its message, promote its mission, and build a loyal core of supporters.

Besides raising awareness about organizational goals, a strong online presence can help it grow, by attracting potential volunteers and donors, as well as potential users of services.

The following should help you build an effective online presence, even on a limited budget.

1. Build a Nonprofit Website

The first and most important step you need to take is to create a website for your nonprofit organization. Your website should be the hub for all the content you create – to share your ideas and try to convey the right message to your target audience. Without a website, you cannot establish an effective online presence.

To make a website, you need to purchase a domain name, which generally comes very cheap, and choose a web hosting provider that will make your website accessible online. Many web hosting providers offer services at a very reasonable price, so be sure to conduct thorough research to find the best one that suits your needs.

You also need to pick a website platform, many of which are free. WordPress is one of the best web platforms available and almost all of its features are free. Also worth considering are Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Webs, among others, all of which offer a free trial and pricing that is usually around $12 per month.

2. Start a Blog

You should create a blog the moment you create your website, since a blog is one of the most powerful mediums for communicating with your target audience. It provides you with a way to offer more in-depth content to your target audience and successfully engage them in what you do.

You need to provide the supporters of your nonprofit organization with high-quality content that will address their pain points and offer solutions, so that they can connect to it and see your nonprofit’s ultimate goal as a worthy cause.

You should consider creating videos that feature your supporters and include them on your blog, since it will show that your nonprofit organization cares about its volunteers and donors. This will encourage people to support you and participate in your cause.

3. Engage in Social Media

Social media can open a lot of opportunity doors for your nonprofit, since you can share all of your content and reach out to millions of people who are willing to take part in your organization. If you share every blog post, along with your supporter videos, you can effectively extend your reach and make people who are interested in what you do your most loyal advocates, since they will likely share your content on their social media accounts.

Social media provide the perfect environment for sharing your ideas and building a community of supporters who will take pride in doing good work and taking part in something that can help a lot of people in the long run. It’s important to actively engage in social media and empower people to interact with one another and share ideas that will bring positive value not only to your organization, but also to the community, which is exactly the main goal of your nonprofit.

Evaluating the options regarding digital media and social networks may seem a bit overwhelming when building an online presence from scratch, but, if you carefully research the best options available to you, you will get on the right track quickly.

It's a Matter of Time

As noted, most of what is described above can be done with little out-of-pocket cost. But building an online presence is done over the medium to long term, i.e., years. That means the first decision your organization needs to make is to commit to the effort. And that translates into dedicating staff’s or possibly volunteer’s time to it.

Is it worth the effort? Definitely. In today's digital world, a strong online presence will help you spread your message and, in the process, gain the supporters who will help you fulfill your mission.

Nick Colakovic, a blogging expert who manages the blog on firstsiteguide.com, helps other bloggers take their craft to the next level and understand the joy of being online. Email him at nick@firstsiteguide.com.

November 2016

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