The online video market continued to gain momentum in 2010, with an average of 179 million Americans watching video each month, according to a new white paper from comScore. Engagement levels also rose during the year, with viewers watching online videos more frequently.  So, is your nonprofit using video to engage donors?

If not, now is your chance.  Visit and get your free Flip Video camera from Cisco. 

After you have it, here are some tips for engaging donors with video.

  1. Post it on YouTube and your site–It helps with search engine rankings.
  2. Keep it short and make it interesting
  3. End with a call to action

Take-away: Go to and get your camera, and then start filming!

14 Great Nonprofit Website Tips

Your organizations website is one of the most important assets you have in communicating your mission, yet it is often the last thing we think about as we prepare campaigns, events, and calls to action.  Here are a few best practices designed to help increase the ROI of your online donations.
1. Keep it short
Use short sentences and simple words.

2. Keep it positive
As a general rule, keep the story positive.  It is fair to share the plight of those you serve, but be sure to share how your organization is changing it, making it better, and how the donor can help.  People are driven to action by the desire to make a difference keep that in mind as you write the content for your site.

3. Use logos, graphics, and pictures
Make sure you are using your own graphics.  Avoid using clip art or stock photography.  Use images and elements that tell your unique story, and convey what your mission is all about.
4. Fire Sale Fonts and Sizing
Make sure your fonts are between 12 and 14px for the majority of your text. Using fonts sizes smaller than that make it hard to read and larger than that are a waste of space.  Stick with Arial or Times fonts for the majority of your text.  These fonts are clean and easy to read, and make sure all the fonts on your site match.

5. The Donate Button
Visibility is key for the donate button.  We recommend that at a minimum you place the button in the top right corner of every page.   It is hard to tell exactly what page a donor will be when he/she decides to donate, so make it easy.

6. Donate, Help, or Give
Test whether or not changing the name of your button makes a difference in your online donations.   We have seen cases where simply changing the text on the button to Help Us has increased online donations.

7. Ask for emails
Collecting a list of constituents’ email addresses will prove very valuable over time.  Ask for email addresses on the form and on the home page.  Potential donors may not want to give today, but they may want to hear more about your organization, and the projects that you are doing. 

8. Share the News
A newsletter is a great way to communicate.  Newsletters allow you to share your story, increase engagement, and get people involved in what you are doing.  Be sure to use the newsletter to push people back to your website where they can learn more and make a donation.
9. Search engine optimization
When you are writing the short and sweet content for your site, be sure to include key words or phrases people looking for your organization might type into the search bar.  For example, if you are a food pantry include food pantry, food donation, feeding the hungry, etc… as people looking to donate or seeking your service are likely to type those types of things into the search bar.

10. Stay on your page
Don’t make donors leave your site to donate.   Having to login to another site to donate to an organization is a strong barrier to donating.

11. Show the progress
Donors want to see that their contribution helped.  Add a progress bar to your donation page to show potential donors the goal and how they can contribute to it.

12. Color matters
The colors that you use on your site do matter.   For example, blue is calming, red is for an alert or emergency.  Make sure that the colors you are using communicate the intended emotion.

13. Not everything is front page news
The homepage should not list every program you have at your organization.   Everyone wants their project on the home page, but he homepage should be reserved for the organization as a whole.   Share the organizations mission on it and the projects that support that mission on ancillary pages.

14. Share the wealth
On your home page share how your organization is making a difference.  Share how their donation will help, and share what will happen if they don’t help.

Take-away: If you have other great tips, please share them here.  We all gain when we all share!

Reprinted from my blog post on

Can a bad event name or campaign help your nonprofit?

I recently read a great blog post about bad brand names, and that got me thinking.  Would a bad event name or nonprofit campaign have the same effect.   Here are some pros and cons to think about before you embark on a bad theme.


1.       Stands Out in the Clutter

We live in an era of clutter on every front and that includes event clutter.  In a sea of events that set out to be sweet, memorable, good and the like a bad, funny and sometimes shocking name definitely stands out. 

Project Kaisei, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and clean up of marine debris, is doing something a little bit taboo with their latest fundraising campaign—they are threatening a goldfish with polluted waters to entice potential donors to take action. Their Facebook campaign, ‘Save Kai’, put a goldfish named Kai in a segregated space within an aquarium filled with plastic pollution.  Supporters are invited to make donations to have pieces of the plastic removed from the tank before Kai is released into the deadly “Plastic Vortex” at the end of the month.
2.       Arouses Curiosity

What happens when your friend tells you about a bad habit of another friend or a colleague tells you that someone else in your team is lazy and inefficient?  Chances are you are ready to listen, even willing to accept and propagate the idea simply because sad as it is we tend to be more receptive to negative ideas. 

This is precisely what a bad campaign works on…our innate curiosity about the bad or the negative.  We cannot stop ourselves from wanting to know more about a negative consequence!

3.       It’s Controversial and in the News


A great example of a successful "bad" themed advertising effort.


Bad themes are like bad news…controversial and in the news! This means that a bad theme is like an instant ticket to fame. 

The shocking PETA ads are a prime example of in the news.   Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny the news coverage PETA has garnered from the sometimes scandalous ads.






 While bad nonprofit themes can do and have done wonders for many a nonprofit using them, they will not always produce the best results, here’s why…

1.       Short Term Effect

A bad theme will initially arouse curiosity, shock, dare, tease but its effects will largely be limited to the short-term.  Only a determined effort to deliver quality and the ability to keep people interested in the organization will help the organization retain donor interest and further build on it.  Simply relying on the theme or event is not enough!

 2.       Could Backfire

Bad campaigns are a strategy that could backfire simply because they have the potential to turn people off and offend them even while having the ability to pique curiosity and grab attention.  By all means pick a bad campaign but weigh the chances of this backfiring as a brand building move too! 

3.       Cannot Work Unless the Offering is Rock Solid

At the end of the day people donate to an organziation because they believe in the mission.  They don’t donate just because they like the name.  So unless your nonprofit is a rock solid offering a bad campaign or event could very easily end up ringing the death knell for your organization.

 Take-away: Think before you leap.  A bad name may be just what you need to get the awareness.  Be smart, prepared, and ready to take action before and after the launch to ensure success.