Many nonprofits don't have the same marketing resources as for-profits. As a result, they generally struggle knowing 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 them 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.)
Idea - Identify most important platforms to be active on based on target donor
Idea - Rate nonprofit's website on how well it achieves organization's goals (check for a video, volunteer bios, annual report, etc)
Idea - 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.
1. One nonprofit leader during our focus group said "I would only use this tool if I trusted the results." So on the landing page, I clearly defined the research that the tool was based on
2. Many nonprofits haven't thought about marketing in terms of reaching a specific target donor. So we decided to make them answer several questions about their target donor before continuing.
3. Nonprofits probably won't be active on every social media platform. So initially I decided to show the top 3, and include their choices to encourage them to play around with different donor groups.
4. Because it's so difficult to know how two groups of donors might differ in the social media platforms they use, let them compare two different settings next to each other.
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.