Three Online Reputation Management Tips for Non-Profit Organizations

Running a non-profit organization can be quite similar to running a for-profit company. Both non-profit and for-profit companies seek to increase revenues and minimize expenses, but they differ in one very important way: their approach to marketing.  While for-profit businesses view marketing as an investment that generates additional sales, non-profit organizations tend to see marketing as a necessary, but unimportant expenditure that takes resources away from core mission.


Unfortunately this often leaves non-profits with limited brand recognition and low community visibility. Particularly in the modern economy, highly visible entities with successful marketing campaigns tend to attract donors and supporters. Even if a non-profit cannot emulate a for-profit business with a large marketing budget, any organization can perform basic steps to improve their public image.


Unlike for-profits, tax-exempt entities in the U.S. are already required to provide basic marketing data to the public. This information, which includes organization mission, key personnel, and marketing expenditures, is freely available online. Since general information about these 501(c)(3), entities is already accessible, not-for-profits should focus their online marketing efforts towards dissemination of positive information. One common method is to engage in online reputation management to highlight meaningful, positive items about a non-profit.


Online reputation management allows all entities to improve brand identity and increase revenue. Although professional online reputation management companies may be too expensive for small non-profits, even a tiny local organization can enact three simple steps to improve online reputation.


Analyze Your Non-Profit Organization’s Online Reputation

The first step for any organization interested in long-term success should be to analyze its current online reputation. Understanding what members of the public see when searching for an organization is a prerequisite to any marketing effort.


Thanks to the dominance of the two major search engines, Google and Bing, analyzing your non-profit organization’s online reputation is an easy process:

  • Query each search engine with the name of your non-profit organization. For each of the results on the first two pages, note whether the item is positive, negative, or neutral.
  • Run similar queries with variations of your organization name or by appending words like “review” or “mission”.
  • Track the entirety of search results for your organization.
  • Compare the relative proportion of positive results about your organization to that of organizations or a similar size with similar missions.

As opposed to for-profits, the goal with a non-profit is not necessarily to be “better” than competing organizations. Rather, the goal is to see if the composition of search results matches the overall image the non-profit wants to provide. If too many results refer to a negative event or too few results discuss the organization mission, then the non-profit can utilize online reputation management to alter the results.


Setup News Alerts For Your Non-Profit’s Reputation

While having a good perspective of your non-profit organization’s current online reputation is necessary, it is not sufficient. The internet changes constantly and results for any particular query may change from day-to-day. Paid online reputation management companies often run comprehensive search analysis on a weekly basis, but this level of data analysis may not be possible for non-profits.


A lower-resource alternative is to rely on free Google Alerts to track mentions of your organization. In addition to being free, alerts take only a few minutes to setup and offer customized news updates direct to your email address.


One quick strategy for setting up alerts for your organization is outlined by Raj Verma, a manager at online reputation management firm Argon Marketing:

“Create three Google Alerts: One with just your organization name;  one with your organization name and “review”; one with “non-profit” and your geographical area of service. Thanks to the new Google Hummingbird algorithm, just these three alerts will catch nearly every new mention of your non-profit.


Identify Online Supporters and Ask For Their Help

Tracking online mentions of your organization has one other tangible benefit. The combination of a comprehensive search analysis and news alerts should enable you to identify pre-existing online supporters. These supporters are internet users who have already posted positive, public information related to your organization. Whether on individual blogs, third-party review sites, or social media, such beneficial mentions of your non-profit are immensely valuable.


Very often these public mentions will refer to your organization by name, but not include any direct links to your website or social media accounts. The mentions by themselves are useful, but links from these properties would be even more important. Since these supporters already have a favorable impression of your organization, it is a simple matter of asking them to provide a link to your website or active social media account.


Not only will these added links help with any search engine optimization efforts, but also provide future visitors with a way to connect with your organization. For particularly important online mentions, existing supporters might also be willing to include a phone number or email address to someone at your non-profit. These direct connections increase the likelihood that prospective donors or beneficiaries interact with your organization. Equally as important, links and online contacts make it far more likely that positive mentions of your non-profit will rank highly in major search engines.


Non-Profit Online Reputation Management

Entities of any size could use these three basic tips to start non-profit online reputation management. For a small non-profit, a basic effort will take less than a few hours per month. Larger organizations could achieve similar success through free help from volunteers.


Hiring a professional online reputation management company may be out of reach for a non-profit organization with a small marketing budget. But any organization would benefit from a simple plan to improve online reputation.


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Jurgita Glodenyte


Jurgita Glodenyte

Jurgita Glodenyte is an online/digital & social media marketer, manager, strategist, consultant, trainer and public speaker. Her goal is to give companies she works with the tools to make them successful in a technology based economy. Jurgita has written a few books on digital marketing & social media.
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