The Tech for Social Change Baltimore Meetup Message Board Meeting Logistics, Details, and Notes › 2013 July - Chris Tuttle - Online Engagement

2013 July - Chris Tuttle - Online Engagement

Kate B.
Harrogate, GB
Post #: 41
Chris Tuttle reviewed 25 easy-to-implement opportunities to help nonprofit charities build better relationships, take more actions, and raise more money. (And showed off Google Glass beforehand by taking an audience photo.)

What is "engagement"? Audience suggested pushing and receiving messages tied to an organization's mission. Chris encourages people to think of it as building relationships with others. Engagement tactics can be high or low touch. For example, a high-touch tactic could be having lunch with a donor, while a low-touch tactic could be posting on Facebook.

As far as donations, research shows that the more contact your organization has with a donor, the more he or she will likely give. Also, the longer you have a relationship with a donor, the more he or she will likely give.

On to Chris' tips:

  • Include a favicon. A favicon is a small image that shows in the address bar of a browser and other places. Chris suggests using to create a favicon if you don't have one.

  • Make your calls to action clear. You have 5 seconds on your website and 4 seconds in email to capture and direct a reader's attention to what you want them to do next. Be consistent. Draw the eye to what is important.

    If you want them to donate, make your donate button stand out. Chris recommends a color that contrasts with your website. Also, keep the language on your donate button simple. For example, Chris suspects that the Public Justice Center would see more donations if the button said "Donate Now" instead of "Donate to the PJC".


    Don't highlight more than three options. If you give people more than three options, they will get confused. Large images and words or colors can distract people. Use them only to highlight areas you want people to pay attention to.

    Your website affects offline donations, not just online donations. Before making an offline donation, 75 percent of donors will go to your website to research your organization first. This is an opportunity for your organization to engage with them through another channel.

  • Customize your 404 error page. A 404 error page shows when a visitor tries to visit a page that no longer exists. This might be because the content was moved or because the address was mistyped. Unintentionally, the standard 404 error page encourages people to leave your website. It doesn't help them find what they were looking for.

    Change the page to direct people to the search or your website's site map. The National Aquarium's 404 error page is a great example. It directs people to the main navigation and search and fits in with the National Aquarium's website.

    Google Analytics can also help you help people find what they are looking for on your website, especially those people who are referred to the search after hitting your website's 404 error page. You can see what common keywords people search for.

    Most websites have dead links and missing pages, and Google provides a tool in its Webmaster Tools to help you identify and fix broken inbound links. Chris likes to check this once a month.

  • Suggest donation amounts for donors. When your donation page lists specific amounts, people are likely to give more. Standard amounts include $25, $50, $100, $250, and $500. (You should tailor these numbers to your community and organization.) Don't give more than six options and always include an option where people can enter their own amount.

    That said, bumping up the lowest is likely to bump up your donations. Even if they intended to give less, people will still likely pick the lowest number you give them instead of entering a lower amount. (Chris thinks it's because people don't want to appear cheap.) For example, Chris ran a campaign with a client where they used $36, $60, $106, $360, and $600 instead of the standard amounts above. They found donations increased by 28.2 percent.

    Streamlining your donation form will also improve donations. If you don't need a field, take it out. In fact, removing some fields can be an excuse to engage with a donor. For example, if you remove the matching gift field, this is an opportunity to call, thank the donor, and ask whether the gift might qualify as a matching gift.

  • Show donors where their money goes. A chart can be a simple way to give donors the big picture without overwhelming them. You can link the image to a page with detailed reports and more data.

  • Use video in your email messages. To embed a video in your email message, take a screenshot of the video with the play button showing. (If you can't get the play button in the screenshot, use an image editor to add it). Put the image in your email message and link it to the video online.

    This way you can put the video anywhere: on its own page with extra text or embedded on a page with a donation form. Just be careful to avoid giving people the impression you are tricking them into giving a donation.

    Shorter videos are more likely to be watched.

  • Make it easy for people to share your content. People who share your content on social networks are more likely to donate in the future.

    Use a tool like ShareThis or AddThis to create sharing buttons for social websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Chris prefers AddThis because of a few options it has, like showing site visitors the buttons for their preferred sites (the ones they are already logged into).

    One great place to put these buttons is in the footers of blog posts.

  • Customize the Twitter tweet used when someone shares your content. This is another AddThis feature. The default text markets AddThis. Don't use it. Use your organization's Twitter handle instead.

  • Add a list of trending content to your website. AddThis keeps track of the most shared content on your website. They provide a widget you can embed in your website to let people know what the most popular content is.

  • Integrate your offline and online communications. Use your online communications to let people know they are about to or should have received a flyer in the mail or use your newsletter to let people know they'll be receiving an email with an invitation to an upcoming event. You can also start a story in email and finish it in the mail. Or start the story in email and finish it in a video.

    An appeal to help an organization go green is a great example of this technique. Ask people to donate by email because it saves the organization money and protects the environment. If you do this, make certain to pull people from your follow-up mail appeal.

Kate B.
Harrogate, GB
Post #: 42
  • Customize the tabs on your Facebook page. Make your Facebook page stand out. Use images for the tabs on the page and point people to YouTube, Twitter, or the sign-up page for your email newsletter. The images should be 111x74. Chris provided images for organizations to use.

  • Include a link to your email newsletter's sign-up form on Facebook. Of those who like your organization's Facebook page, 98 percent will never come to the page again, and only 15 percent will see the Facebook content you post. This makes email significantly better than Facebook.

  • Add trust seals to your donation form. Displaying one or more trust seals on your donation form will increase donations. (Of course, only use the seals that are valid for your site.)

  • Use video creatively. Instead of the same old About page, consider including a short video for each person. It gives people a new way to engage with your content.

  • Promote online channels offline. At events, make certain your signage includes prompts about posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other appropriate places. Aside from events, remember to include online pointers on envelopes, postcards, and so on.

  • Create a custom Twitter background. Use a custom Twitter background to include more information about your organization, its mission, and the hashtags you commonly use. Also, don't forget to include the hashtags in your bio.

  • Crowdsource blog content. Chris was very busy and needed a blog post. Instead of creating the content himself, he emailed 40 Twitter friends and asked them to post a tip for using Twitter with the hashtag #TwitterTips after a certain time. He said the first 20 would be part of a blog.

    Crowdsourcing the content also gives you an initial audience boost. Everyone likes to see themselves in print.

  • Crowdsource images with Instagram. Instagram allows you to embed pictures in your website based on their hashtag. But be careful! There isn't a filter, so you need to monitor the feed to see what people are posting.

  • Look for opportunities to start the next conversation. Don't waste space. After someone has submitted a form, don't just show them what they typed. Ask them to do something more. For example, if someone is signing up to receive free stickers, use the next page to ask them to donate to help keep the stickers free.

  • Build a web of constituent engagement. The more people engage with your organization, the more likely they are to engage again. Look for ways to make your next call to action. For example, 60 to 80 percent of donors open the donation acknowledgement email. (Only 20 to 30 percent of list recipients open an appeal letter, and only 15 to 25 percent open an e-newsletter.) Customize this acknowledgement email to make your next call to action.

  • Use email preview text wisely. In the email preview, people usually see who the email is from, when the email arrived, and the subject. The subject is the most important. Be honest when you are writing the subject. Make it straightforward, like "Save the Date, Seniors Win Housing, 100 Judges Trained." Sometimes, you can also used the ALT tag in an email header to insert extra text into the subject line.

    Don't use [Name of Organization] News. Avoid sending the email from a celebrity. Use the organization's name or the name of a person from your organization.

  • Don't ignore mobile. This tip will take more than 2 hours to implement, but it's still a good tip. Mobile use is increasing and will continue to increase. You can't ignore it.

    If you can't make your whole website mobile friendly, then focus on making the pages you are linking to in your emails mobile friendly.

  • Socialize webpages. If you are have particularly powerful stats or quotes, allow people to tweet just that item.

  • Socialize your emails. Suggest content that people could post on social networks. To do this, you might need to learn a little bit of HTML, or check out

  • Set up custom links to share on social networks. Again, this is suggesting content for people to post on their social networks.

Chris posted his slides online.

You can also read Kelly McKew's recap of the event on the GB.TC blog.
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