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Reputation Management for Nonprofits and Charities

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There’s an old saying that says, in essence,

“Do good and good will come back to you.”

When it comes to digital marketing for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs, we think that “doing good” should be a guiding ethos.

Whether you’re providing food or shelter to communities in need, raising funds after a disaster, or campaigning for a more just and equitable society, you’re out there changing the world for the better – and your good works deserve to be recognized and amplified.

And, after all, the more you put your messaging out there, the better the chance that you’ll be able to recruit new volunteers, gather more donations, and further extend your reach.

As we’ve discussed before, digital marketing is one of the single most effective ways that you can help spread the word about your organization – and one of the most crucial elements of successful digital marketing for nonprofits and charities is online reputation management.

An effective reputation management strategy will allow you to gain new leads while also establishing even better relationships with your existing donors and supporters – but how does it work?

Essentially, online reputation management starts with accepting that "word of mouth" – which may have once driven new volunteers, donors, or members of the media to you – has changed; no longer do people just exchange ideas and suggestions over coffee. Instead, your potential audience is getting referrals and recommendations online, via search engines, social media, and, above all, through recommendation sites like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Yelp.  

Put simply, a reputation management plan will allow you to help monitor and guide the virtual conversation around your organization for the better, allowing you to turn your existing clients into powerful advocates and making sure that all of those reviews, rankings, and testimonials work in your favor.

Generally, we break down successful reputation management into three interrelated parts, each of which has a major role to play in making your organization stand out – for the all right reasons – online.

If you operate a nonprofit, charity, NGO, or service organization, here’s why it’s high time that you consider folding online reputation management into your marketing strategy:

Reach New Audiences With Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

For many individuals looking to give or get involved with charity or activism, a search engine like Google or Bing is the place to start. And, according to research from BrightLocal, those who do search out organizations like are going to make their choice quickly; 98% of searchers choose a service provider from the “first page” of Google (i.e., the top ten results).

What’s more, many searchers are looking to keep things close to home; Google knows this, which is why local listings are the 3rd most influential factor in search engine rankings.

So how are you reaching this massive audience of eager searchers looking to support an organization like yours?

In order to dominate on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search ranking pages, you’ll need a solid, local SEO strategy in place. For nonprofits, this will include:

That last point, in particular, is worth noting. Today, more users are using smartphones to find new service providers and conduct business than ever before.

If your site isn’t attractive, responsive, and highly functional on mobile devices –  and some research shows that up to 91% of small business websites aren’t optimized for phones – your potential audience won’t hesitate to move on to the organization who makes a better first impression on the go. In fact, more than half of all consumers will abandon you entirely if your site isn’t quick to load and functional on mobile devices.  

Engage Your Advocates With Reviews and Testimonials

In addition to relying on search engines, much of your prospective audience will first come across your organization via a review or listing service, a category which today encompasses sites ranging from Facebook, to Google, to CitySeach, to Yelp.

Research suggests that the vast majority of consumers say that they consider third party reviews important in their decision when making a decision about a nonprofit or similar organization; indeed, a full 92% of consumers research service companies online before selecting one.

The best way to put your best foot forward on these review sites and local resources is to make sure that their content works in your favor. This will involve monitoring what is said about you online, managing negative reviews as they crop up, and encouraging your clients to post positive reviews.

So, how can your local nonprofit accomplish those big picture goals? Here at Geek Chicago, we partner with a national reputation management service to offer our clients access to a review management tool with a proven track record of success.

Essentially, we’ll set up a workflow that lets you automatically reach out to your clients via text or email after you’ve completed your business with them, encouraging them to rate and review your organization on a variety of relevant sites.

Establishing this line of communication early will help you encourage your happiest clients to post glowing reviews and testimonials. At the same time, reaching out like this allows you to “park” negative comments before they come up. You may be surprised, but research shows that just giving less-satisfied clients a chance to vent privately to you over email could well prevent them from ever posting that negative public review in the first place.

The most important thing to know is that you don’t have to leave the word of mouth about your nonprofit up to chance! Instead, our tool will help you monitor and respond to all of your feedback and, ultimately, steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

Keep Building Buzz With Social Media and Email Marketing

So far, we’ve talked about reputation management in terms of what it takes – and what it can do – to get new audiences to discover you for the first time.

But what about those who you can turn into lifelong friends and partners, ready to turn to you again and again? Can reputation management and digital marketing actually help keep your clients coming back? Yes!

In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage loyalty and retention among your client base – and it’s important that you do, since research shows that a brand-loyal consumer is worth up to 10x as much as the value of their first purchase.

Most of these long-term audience maintenance strategies take place over two main digital channels: social media and email.

When it comes to social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, it’s important that you remain active on your pages and profiles and really foster a sense of community between your organization and your audience, which may include volunteers, employees, individuals or groups you’ve helped, or first time visitors.

To that end, take care to respond to positive and negative feedback and answer any queries as they’re posted; don’t be afraid to pose questions and polls of your own; offer up interesting blog posts and fresh visual content; and give your dedicated followers a “peek behind the curtain” with behind-the-scenes stories, insights, and exclusive social media offerings.

You can also use social media, particularly Facebook, as a paid advertising channel; the platform’s sophisticated targeting tools make it easy to identify and appeal to a narrow audience, including users who’ve already searched for or otherwise showed an interest in your organization (a process that we call “remarketing”).

Email marketing is also a powerful tool for retention and reputation management; reaching out to your past clients or supporters in their inbox with fresh blog content or updates can be a great way to make sure that you’re top of mind the next time they need to consult with a nonprofit – or offer a recommendation of one to a friend or colleague!

Curious about what it would take to execute this three-part reputation management plan for your nonprofit, charity, NGO, or personal brand?

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any and all of your digital marketing questions or concerns! Our experienced team is here and always ready to help you accomplish even more amazing things.

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).