Grass is growing, buds are budding, and spring is finally here! It’s the perfect time for you to take a step back from your daily grind and take a minute to clean up your communications. With just a few small steps, you can make a big difference in how your organization is seen by outsiders. And, if you’re lucky, you may even find some ways to make your job a bit easier.
Get an Outside Opinion
This is the quickest way to help you identify what needs fine-tuning for your organization. If you have the budget, a communications audit is great first-time, low cost project to do with a consultant or a firm. This will tell you how outside observers see your organization from your website, printed collateral, and social media. A great place to start is Hubspot’s Website Grader, which will give you free marketing advice on your site!
If you don’t have the budget, try sending your website and social links to a few friends or friends of board members, with a few attached questions, such as, “Given this information, what do you think our organization does?” or “What types of clients do we serve?” Asking pointed questions will direct their feedback. This could be the first step for a full-blown, DIY communications audit!
Watch Someone Navigate Your Website
This is, hands-down, the cheapest user experience (UX) project you can undertake. I like to get a friends to sit down with me for 10 minutes and try to find a few pieces of information on a website. Watching how different people navigate the site you already have can help you understand how a simple change, such as adding a “contact us” button to the top of your website, can vastly improve your click through rates and visit length. This is also a great step to take before you start a website redesign!
Or if you want to get some free user testing on a larger scale, try a free trial with Usertesting.com, which has a large base of individuals who will navigate your site and give you feedback. Crazy Egg also can show you useful heatmaps to see exactly where people are clicking when they get to your site.
Get Rid of Those Broken Links
All of our websites have these. This is the report that came out a few years ago, or images that you have moved around, that remain broken on the site. Whenever a new intern joins our organization, I ask them to read through the website to find typos or broken links to us to fix. This gives them a solid foundation of what the organization does or has done, and helps us freshen up our website. It’s a win-win!
Don’t have an intern you can get to look it over? Try Site Improve, which gives you a free broken link check on your website!
Organize Your Logos
Branding is vital to nonprofits. This is one of those things I always mutter to myself I should have done years ago, but never actually get around to doing it. If you, like many nonprofits, have had many logo iterations or refreshes, make sure you have all your logos (black and white, on a white background, transparent background, square, long, vertical, etc.) in one file that everyone can access.
Better yet, make it a secret page on your website so anyone in the organization can access it and send it to partners, or upload them to a public Dropbox folder. This will cut your digging-through-old-folders time in half, and streamline your graphics work.
Compare Printed Collateral
Bring together all your printed collateral (brochures, rack cards, flyers, templates, postcards, etc.) and look at it all together. Does it look like all the pieces belong to the same organization? Do the pieces follow the same fonts, headings, and color themes? Additionally, if the items are posted in public areas, how does the piece stand up to its neighbors? Is there anything you can do to make your piece stand out from the crowd? A quick look over these pieces in context can help you make the piece even more effective. And finally, think deeply about the action you want your audience to take from each piece of collateral. Is it to call you, visit the website, or attend an event? Make sure each piece has one clear call to action (CTA) that is emphasized in the piece.
Anything else you do every year to clean up the cobwebs in your communications? Let us know!
Allison is a nonprofit communications consultant and friend of Williams Whittle who specializes in creating affordable communications strategies for small nonprofits. She has five years of nonprofit and association experience including developing communications strategies, conducting an organizational rebrand, and building a custom social network.