Many nonprofits don't have the same marketing resources as for-profits. As a result, they don't always know how to reach potential donors on social media.
A web applications that recommends social media platforms based on user-inputted information about the donor they're trying to reach. This also gets nonprofits thinking about who their target donor is.
I was hired as an intern at Donor Swell, which is a marketing agency that specifically helps nonprofits. Corinne (President) and I talked about common difficulties that nonprofits face when they're trying to spread their message and attract donors online.
Problem areas in nonprofit marketing
As a nonprofit, I’m not sure what to Tweet about and when is appropriate.
What news in the world is happening that might impact our nonprofit, that we should know about?
What content on our website do people like the most? What content should we put on our website?
As a nonprofit, what strategies can I use to gain a larger following on social media?
How can we differentiate ourselves from similar nonprofits?
Based on these problems, I came up with a list of concepts for tools that could address these. We narrowed these ideas down to several viable options.
We invited several nonprofit leaders to walk through our concepts and discuss how useful these would be in helping them achieve their goals, and why.
Idea - Rate their website on how easily people can donate (mobile friendly donation form, number of paths to donation page, color of button, etc.)
Identify most important platforms to be active on based on target donor
Rate nonprofit's website on how well it achieves organization's goals (check for a video, volunteer bios, annual report, etc)
Show blog posts/tweets/social media outlets of similar organizations (filter by similar size, cause, location, donor, etc)
The nonprofits we talked to identified the process of choosing social media platforms to be a significant pain point, since there seemed to be so many options. So I designed a tool that I thought could help.
Nonprofit leaders said "I would only use this tool if I trusted the results."
Many nonprofits haven't thought about marketing in terms of reaching a specific target donor.
We know nonprofits have limited resources, and are likely looking for the best platforms to be on. And, as they explore recommendations, they'll be curious how their choices in donors affect these recommendations.
It's difficult to know how two groups of donors might differ in the social media platforms they use.
I developed the back-end using Flask with Python. I used Bootstrap as the front-end framework. The biggest challenge was building the algorithm that ranked social media. I iterated on this mockup several times, and incorporated feedback from Corinne (President) as I went.
Algorithms that recommend things are hard, and filled with assumptions. I'm not an expert in nonprofit marketing, or even marketing, so developing the algorithm that ranked the platforms was difficult. I had most success with a simple system based on basic rules. A few simple rules made it easier to adjust the behavior when I got feedback.