Creating an Online Newspaper for your Non-Profit: Who’s Going to Read it and Why They’ll Love It

There’s enough news about your non-profit’s industry or cause to fill an entire newspaper. So why don’t you give it one?

Paper.li is a platform that allows organizations to curate and present a customized online “newspaper.” The site gives you the chance to bring together all sorts of content on chosen subjects, industries and causes in one place. The process involves adding keywords, influential Twitter users and relevant hashtags in order to capture content being tweeted out. If it’s done well, the resulting “newspaper”, created on a daily or weekly basis (depending on your preference) gives readers a snapshot of interesting and important news and insight for a particular industry or cause. The link can be tweeted out, posted to Facebook and added to a blog post or Pinterest board. The automated tweet feature also includes mentions of some key contributors.

Incline Weekly Example 1

There are other areas of your paper that be customized in order to appeal to your audience and promote the content. For example, the name of the publication can be changed to be engaging and informative and a Twitter widget can be added. It is also possible to view stats on how many visitors your account had and how many have subscribed.

Incline Weekly Tweet

The value of the paper.li platform isn’t contained to a few members or sections of your association or non-profit’s community. The benefit that a paper brings extends to every group that is vital to making your organization thrive. The following are a list of key elements to your non-profit and why they’ll be reading your online “newspaper,”:

The Sponsor

Sponsors are integral parts of any initiative your association or other non-profit wants to follow through with. They help provide needed resources to make events, services, publications, etc., a success. However, it’s no secret that sponsors want something out of the deal as well. They want your members to recognize them, understand their value and invest in them.

Having an online newspaper allows sponsors to see the trends in the industry and understand the issues and updates that your organization’s community talks the most about. Providing sponsors with this information in one easy-to-access place allows them to see that your members will value their services and helps them plan with your non-profit to sponsor smarter, making it a win-win for both parties.

The Member/Donor/Volunteer

These are the people that make your organization’s world go round. You give them valuable services and they provide your non-profit/association with member dues, financial resources and a purpose. One of the services that an organization can give to this group that is extremely valuable is information. Education and information makes your community members’ lives better by giving them access to strategies that advance their career or passion.

A paper.li newspaper is one of the best ways to bring together the information that is relevant to members on a platform that is accessible to all. Members, donors and volunteers are able to see what is being said and by who. There can be a blog about a new app that is helping those in your industry or an article from a magazine about new ways to support a cause. And this is just the tip of the educational iceberg on paper.li. This is a very effective and efficient way for your community to learn, network and continue to grow in their careers or lives.

The Staff

It’s great for your staff to be tied into all the latest news and trends in the industry in order to promote your cause and generate new ideas to grow your organization. Unfortunately, this is not always a possibility, especially as content is pushed through social media platforms at an astonishing rate these days. However, paper.li can help a non-profit’s staff keep up-to-date with the industry/cause more easily.

A paper.li account can also help staff in a brainstorming new ways to better serve your association/non-profit community. The event staff can prepare more relevant education sessions at conferences or create engaging fundraising event by monitoring the issues people are talking about on your online newspaper. Member relations staff can develop new and better services and tweak older ones to be more relevant.

The Media

Members of the media are often your organization’s link between your industry/cause and the general public. Media may jump into a story without too much prior knowledge of the environment or people that your organization deals with or what it is trying to achieve. An online newspaper can help bridge this gap in knowledge for members of the media and can help direct to influential people in the industry who are well-spoken and well-respected.

An online newspaper also situates your organization as its own media outlet. Having this available to the general public helps to relay a message to people while cutting down on industry jargon and other barriers to access. It is a medium you control and can be changed to fit the changing time your organization may encounter. This ensures that your organization stays relevant in the long-term and established the association/non-profit as a go-to resource for information and expertise.

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A paper.li account can be beneficial in many ways to many stakeholders. Take the time to set one up and maintain it and your organization will reap the benefits for a long time to come.

How to Create an Awesome How-to for Your Non-profit Community

How-to guides are tremendously popular at the moment. Websites like wikiHow give step-by-step instructions to curious Google searchers and advice articles dominate Twitter feeds.

The rise of how-to content on the internet is well-deserved. People are looking for information and these guides are catering to the needs and cravings of an increasingly tech-savvy population.

How-to guides can give associations and other non-profits a great opportunity to provide members with more value and increase awareness of a cause or industry among the general public. One of the chief reasons members join an association is to learn and grow professionally. How-to guides are a great way to make learning easy and your organization’s other services more accessible.

There are many online platforms that provide you with the tools to create a successful how-to guide, ranging from YouTube to blogs and infographics.

Still don’t know where to start with your own how-to? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a how-to guide of our own!

Step 1- Choose a Focus

Having a how-to guide requires something that needs explaining. If you are helping to explain something that is very simple or that none of your members need to know, readers/viewers will have no use for your guide.

For example, pick a newer service that your organization provides to members and create a how-to for accessing that service and getting the best out of it. This is useful for members and promotes your organization’s value to its community.

Step 2- Plot the Steps

Before you even get started creating your how-to online, it’s a good idea to write down and review the steps. Completing this step can tell you a few crucial things about your guide including: Is the issue too simple? Will people have use for it? Are there too many or too few steps? What audience am I trying to target?

Answering these questions before you begin will place you in the shoes of your members or the general public, which will help you make a better how-to that addresses their needs and concerns.

Step 3- Chose a Platform

Not all social media platforms were created equal; some are better for your how-to guide than others. The two platforms that lend themselves to good how-tos are blogs and YouTube. Both allow for visual storytelling, longer explanations and accessibility by just about anyone.

Think about which platforms are best for your certain guide. Are written words and photos/infographics on a blog good enough? Or does a video showing a step-by-step explanation do the trick better? Think about the resources and technical knowledge you have and how many people you can reach with each platform.

Step 4- Be Clear and Concise

Once you have started making your how-to guide, make sure to keep it simple. The purpose of your guide is to make it easy for the average Joe to access your association’s benefits. If you fill your how-to with complicated steps, vague references and technical jargon, people will become even more lost than before.

Step 5- Use Visuals and Examples

Many people learn by seeing. Adding visual, whether it’s a video, pictures or an infographic, is always helpful. If members are able to follow along with the how-to as it is explained, it becomes much easier to get the hang of the activity.

This how-to guide from the American Diabetes Association is a great example of the power of visuals in getting a message across.

Step 6- Do a Trial Run

Before you release your how-to for viewing by members or the public, be sure to take it for a test drive. Follow along with the steps yourself and ask a colleague or volunteer to try it out as well. You may find that there are some steps missing or a gap in the information. Testing your how-to will ensure that everything is clear, concise and complete so your members will get the most out your guide.

Step 7- Promote It

There’s no sense in having a well-made how-to guide if no one sees it. Promote your guide on other social media platforms and on your website. Make it available at conferences and meetings. Make it accessible for everyone.

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How-to guides are a great way to engage your members and add value in the process. Pay attention to detail, keep it simple and let your members know it’s there.

What do you think makes a great how-to guide? Let us know in the comments!

The Dos and Don’ts of Running a Contest on Social Media for Non-Profits

If your non-profit is ever looking for a win/win scenario on social media, a contest is the way to go.

Social media contests are nothing new, but a well thought out and creative one can help your association or other non-profit achieve its goals. The second part of that win/win comes when your members or community have a chance to voice their opinion, win a prize and a have a little fun, all at the same time.

But just like anything you do on social media, contests shouldn’t be created haphazardly. A poorly formulated contest can do more harm than good for your organization. So we’ve set out to compile a list of dos and don’ts when planning a contest for your non-profit that will go a long way to helping you increase engagement and promote awareness on social media.

The Dos

Do create contests that will help you reach your overall goals. It’s important to ask yourself what the overall goal of your social media presence are and how can you structure a contest to help you reach this goal. For example, if your association wants to promote a new service, you might want to consider setting up a contest that encourages members to post about the benefits of said service or contribute feedback about it. Conversely, if you already have a large following on Twitter or Facebook, starting a contest that aims to increase followers is probably not a great way to allocate your resources.

Do take the time to plan the contest thoroughly. Take some time to ensure all the angles of your contest are covered, including budget, design, timing, wording, possible problems, etc. It’s also a good idea to make sure all relevant departments and personnel are informed of the contest, its goals, its rules and how it’s all going to work. This way, all staff members can answer questions and promote the contest to your community.

Do monitor the contest and follow up with contestants. Whatever your goals are for creating a contest, increased engagement is probably at the root. Monitoring the contest submissions gives your non-profit a chance to communicate with its members and show them that their voice is being heard and will likely encourage them to keep participating in other facets of the organization. Doing so in a timely manner is important to showing your community how much you care about them and how much value you can offer them.

Do have a plan to highlight the winner. Showcasing the eventual winner of your contest is a great way to not only cap off a successful initiative, but also tell a story about a member of your community. The winner of your contest may be a member of your association, a long-time volunteer for your non-profit or a new person in your community. Use this opportunity to tell their story and connect your organization with the great tale.

The Don’ts

Don’t skip the fine print. Writing up a list of contest rules, the methods for choosing a winner and any legal add-ons can save you a lot of headaches and possible court dates in the future. When your process is clear and transparent, it will make for a smoother ride for both you and contestants and encourage your community to participate in future contests.

Don’t ignore the regional and social media platform rules for running a contest. There are certain laws that your province or state may have about running contests. Similarly, many social media platforms also have guidelines to follow when running a promotion. Read up on these rules before starting up your contest because a misstep at this stage could cause you to be kicked off a site or be called out by lawmakers.

Don’t let up with the promotion. Let your followers know about the contest. And then let them know again and again. Don’ get us wrong, nothing is worse than being bombarded with the same message constantly on social media, but a consistent reminder to your community about the contest can help it flourish. Brainstorm some creative ways to promote the contest throughout the duration of it, such as using current submissions as a way to get potential contestants interested. Always be clear about what the contest involves and its parameters.

Don’t think it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a potential for disgruntled members or trolling social media users to use your contest as a platform to provoke a nasty response or air their grievances. Think about the possible scenarios beforehand and create a response strategy. It’s not a certainty that this will happen, but it’s always a great idea to be prepared to stop the negativity before it ruins the campaign and perhaps even turn it into a positive.

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Contests are great ways to get your non-profit’s community engaged. Your organization can also reap some other benefits, such as increased use of a service, more awareness of a cause, an increased following or crucial feedback. Preparation, creativity and attention to detail are all key factors in putting on a successful contest. If you keep that in mind, it could be a jackpot for both you and your members.

Six Ways to Sound More Like a Human and Less Like a Robot

Use more technology, but be more human.

That last sentence seems kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? But it’s an important lesson to remember when you are managing social media platforms for an organization. As technology advances and online marketing becomes the norm, people are increasingly looking for a human touch amongst the cyber-babble.

This is even more important if you are managing the social media of an association or other non-profit. People are drawn to these organizations exactly because they offer something distinctly human. They offer networking, mentors, a helping hand and a chance to give. All these benefits come with personal stories and the opportunity to make a life or several lives better.

But the question remains, how does one keep from sounding like a robot on social media, a mode of communication that, at times, offers little in the way of personal contact? Here are six tips that can help you inject some spirit into your Tweets, Facebook posts, pins and blog.

1. Don’t Copy and Paste Headlines

Explain the content in your own words; it’s as simple as that. Nothing seems more robotic (and just downright lazy) than simply copy and pasting the exact headline or description of an article, video or blog post. Be creative with your description of the content you are sharing. Make it fit with your brand and use words that resonate with your audience

2. Tailor Responses to Individuals

Responding to people in the first place is a good sign, but you need to go a step further to avoid a comparison to R2-D2. If someone shares your post or retweets one of your tweets, say thank you, but don’t do it the same way you just did for another follower. If you receive some criticism or feedback, address the person directly. Whatever you do, don’t throw a canned response at them. This strategy may take a little more time, attention to detail and research, but it will be well worth the extra resources.

3. Tell Stories About Other Humans

In the realm of social media, you are what you post. When you post content about real people, whether that’s your members, staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors or the people you give you give to, it goes a long way to softening the rough edges of a big, organizational account. It highlights your non-profit’s ability to relate to people, connect with their needs and interact with them on a human level.

4. Ask Questions and Respond to Answers

No human being just talks at people all day, every day. That’s why it’s important to ask questions of your following. Not only can this result in great engagement and key feedback for your organization, it can also help members see the non-profit as more human than robot. Asking questions is a normal part of any conversation. Listening and responding answers means you care about what other people are saying. Sharing this experience highlights the humanity in your organization and allows your community to see there really is a person behind those tweets/posts/blogs/pins.

5. Keep Up Human Appearances

There are just some things humans cannot do and people will shine a negative light on your organization if it seems like you are circumventing these obstacles. For example, one person cannot keep up a shred of a meaningful relationship with 2000 people. So don’t follow 2000 people on Twitter. Only connect with those who share relevant content and provide you with chances to engage.

This doesn’t mean you have to keep your “Following” section to 50 people, but try being somewhat selective. People will appreciate that your organization is not in the social media game purely because of the numbers, but rather the quality of the connections it maintains. This loyalty will be reciprocated.

6. Have Fun

We know, we know, this is a vague and cliché tip, but there’s a reason everyone says it; because it works. Don’t take yourself too seriously when formulating content. It’s okay to make jokes, use slang, craft a play on words or try something new one in a while. Being formal all the time is overrated and can put people off your organization. Most people look to social media to connect with friends and pursue a passion, so make it easy for your community to see you as a friend and a fun way to accomplish goals and dreams.

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When you manage social media platforms for an association or non-profit, leave the robot on the dance floor and show your human side. Your community will appreciate it and want to keep coming back. Once that happen, the possibilities are somewhere near limitless.